Going with Your Gut is Crap

Follow your dreams. Be unrealistic. Go for it, boo boo.

I’m talking about the feel-good, soft self-help advice we see floating around. Go with your gut. No one can argue with that. Your gut is always right.

Except when it’s not. Imagine this scenario. You go to a foreign country alone. You don’t speak the language. You’re scared. And then you see the Golden Arches, and a machine where you can order. You can even select English as the language. Phew!

Your gut is telling you to do what you know, to do what is safe: Order the Big Mac from the machine. Avoid conflict, eat something you already like, and satiate your hunger.

Or you’re in a vicious cycle of a toxic relationship. You’re invited out by someone else who seems nice. But you don’t know if that would pan out, and you’ve already spent so much time and energy on the toxic relationship.

You feel in your gut that the relationship you’re already in has to work.

Right?

I have PTSD, and so my gut is always telling me not to trust others, to close myself off, to be on the defensive.

When someone shows genuine interest in me, I’m suspicious. What do they really want?

I live on high alert, and I perceive everything as dangerous. I feel safest in bed with my curtains literally taped shut and playing a TV show I’ve seen a million times.

But could you imagine if I lived my life that way?

My gut is giving me directions that would cause me to self-destruct. I cannot let it drive.

My gut wanted to stay home, safe, warm. To have food delivered. To visit the same places and talk to the same people…or, on bad days, not talk to anyone at all.

But now I cannot deny that my anxiety is lower. I am better at planning. I have closer relationships. I am able to keep my paranoid thoughts in check.

I have the ability to scan my bank account and look for a pharmacy and decide okay, I will try the local food. If I get sick, I’ll have a good story. But I will still be safe.

I have the ability to look at someone who is treating me poorly and say okay, this person has already proven to me that they won’t treat me well. Time to give someone else a chance.

If I stayed going with my gut, I would not have developed this kind of awareness.

If your gut is always steering you toward what is comfortable and safe, and you oblige, there are certain risks for your soul.

This is, for example, how racist and sexist notions are allowed to safely exist. People are raised with a certain “traditional” belief and so they feel it “in their gut” to be true.

Going with your gut can be a convenient excuse not to push your beliefs, to stay “how you are.”

But this isn’t always what happens. People change whether they like it or not. And if your universe isn’t growing, it may be shrinking…without your realizing it.

Your animal “gut” will want to hide, but your intuition will want to push you.

The gut is the animal. The lizard. The thing that wants to hide. It’s even a part of your body, in the center of your body. Your gut can be very useful. I’m alive because of my gut, because of fight, flight, freeze.

But my gut can not be in control all the time. Not if I want to be the best version of myself.

It’s my responsibility to examine sneaky, toxic beliefs that feel safe. It’s the job of my intuition: the higher self.

Intuition is the voice that tells you to do a cartwheel on soft grass after watching the Olympics.

The gut is the voice critiquing the gymnast for not quite getting the landing.

Intuition is the response to something new, but exercising it safely. Intuition is looking back at Mom before doing your new trick.

The gut is too scared to try out for the team.

Intuition tells you to create, the gut is scared of what people on Reddit might say.

We need both, but the gut cannot drive all the time. Your gut will have you drinking to numb the pain and telling yourself you’re having fun, and then doing it all over again once the pain comes back. Your gut will let the partner of your dreams leave out of fear of rejection.

Your gut’s job is just to keep you alive and relatively safe and pain-free: Listening to it will not make you happy.

Do not go with your gut. Question your gut. Question what your animal brain is telling you. Dig a little deeper.

A whole bunch of insecure, illogical feelings will probably fall right out.

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Going with Your Gut is Crap

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