One of the best and most valuable lessons I’ve learned and i’m still learning is, how to differentiate between my gut instinct and anxious thoughts driven by fear.
The learning of this has been a long rumbling road, where I have fallen down many times and gotten back up again.
As a child growing up around Domestic Violence, I developed Anxiety very early on, my ability to trust my instinct was taken away from me in place of having to listen to my as i hate to call him, ‘my step fathers’ thoughts, feelings and ways of how everything should be. At that time, my only and strongest instinct that I had learned, was choosing whether to fight or flight.
Not the most useful on going way of learning to trust your instinct as this came from a place of FEAR, but I digress.
When you are so young and living in such a controlled environment, you involuntarily give away your natural instinct to trust anything in place of fear of any consequence.
As a result, I found my thoughts feelings views on life through the eyes of other people. I had no real idea of who i was, what i thought about anything and it didn’t feel that important to me as i relied on others to lead that for me.
The only time i really felt like i could embrace my own thoughts and feelings, was when i was left completely alone, which happened from time to time as i was an only child for the first 18 years of my life.
I blended in, I purposely sought out friends with dominating personalities that I could emulate, I did what seemed cool and got me accepted and for this I was very popular which I loved. I followed the crowds and although on the surface it seemed great, but inside there was a person who was often screaming on the inside at how unhappy i felt or to say something or do something different, but my decision was ALWAYS fear led.
It wasn’t until I got older, that it hit me that I wasn’t living a life that I was happy with and throughout, I’d had bursts of frustration but not enough, self belief, esteem and strength to speak up and do something about it, trusting my instinct meant me having to change alot about my life at the time and i mean everything, (the people I hung around with, my job, the things I was doing) and FEAR of that held me back from making those changes.
That wasn’t until my break down, that I found myself very much alone, being at such a low ebb forces you to do some much needed soul searching and self work. I began to spend more time with myself, and I began to ask myself questions about how I really felt about the life I was living, my own opinion on things and looking at moments with guilt, where I wish I’d spoken up or made certain choices, but I didn’t due to lack of trust in my own judgement.
I knew that something had to change, I needed to become my own person not what everyone else wanted me to be. This is how I started to learn what my instinct was and how to learn to trust it.
So with the background of how this came to be out the way, now to tell you how I differentiate between the two!
Fear for me, is a feeling, I actually feel it, the spike in my adrenaline, a heightened feeling and I usually have no idea which way to turn, and at this point, Id stop and search through my feelings and ask myself where is it coming from and why? Its like sorting through a big pot of glitter to find a needle. (my mind is pretty colourful so glitters the best description of what its like in there)
My instinct, on the other hand is an absolute feeling, that comes from a calm place, its a complete knowing that, whatever is it i am thinking is what i should do, and it comes with complete assurance that is the right thing to do without question.
That is how you know, whereas fear comes surrounded with conflicted feelings and questions.
When I didn’t know what my instinct was, my life was all over the place and I can honestly say that, since I learned to trust it, I have never gone wrong. Its only ever been when I have made choices made out of fear that have I seen things go wrong and its in the dissecting of that, is when I’ve realised my decision came from a place of fear.
Think about the last time you made a good decision and how it felt and again with a bad one?
Perhaps the difficulty and confusion about our instinct comes in constant experiences in not learning to trust it enough, so when something happens, I suggest stepping back and diagnose it, ask yourself how do I feel, is it an overwhelming feeling a calm knowing one? Or a flight/flight response that stems from a fearful place.
Your instinct doesn’t have any questions, it just knows. The other thing about trusting your instinct is that not everyone may align with it and that is okay, that is why IT IS YOUR INSTINCT so
It is inbuilt for you to learn to trust for your own protection, so stop second guessing yourself and take back your power.