I’ve messed my life up in ways that required a “cleanup-on-aisle-3” style mop job at least twice.
Once, when I decided to try and live in a “state of grace”, and ensure “my left hand didn’t know what the right was giving”.
And again, when I decided to “listen to my gut above all else”.
“Aw that sounds kinda nice though,” you might think.
So did I! But here’s the problem.
I was in my early 20’s, emerging from a Pretty Rough Go of things…
Don’t Make Promises Before Doing the Work
A huge part of the issue had been putting my self-worth in other people’s hands. And, as part of my recovery, I’d committed to what I felt was true authenticity; surrendering to my giving nature, and listening fiercely to my “inner voice”.
Enter: these two high-level, quasi-spiritual promises to myself that I felt might help me turn my life back around.
And they were promises I was absolutely NOT prepared to commit to.
I’ll go into the grace thing another time — but tl;dr: if you already struggle with low boundaries, turns out trying to entrench oneself in radical generosity before that’s addressed is a remarkably bad idea.
But let’s talk about the gut.
At that point, I’d spent so long overriding my own instincts about how I deserved to be treated, spoken to, and loved. I wanted so badly to trust myself completely.
So I did my best to act on my every deep feeling. The issue was, though? Sometimes, my feelings were wrong as hell.
Distinguishing Gut Instinct from Plain-Old Insecurity
At the time, I didn’t have a ton of guidance around what a confident, trusting, deep awareness truly felt like — or that it’s something that takes practice to develop.
For example, these days I know what a good idea worth pursuing feels like in my body. It’s a calm, steady hum. That doesn’t mean concerns and doubt don’t appear, but they’re like weather; passing dark clouds, little temporary squalls.
Back then though, I’d spent years very afraid, all the time. And so, still tuned into that channel, I started letting any passing fear or insecurity turn the ship.
I found myself quitting, saying no, and giving up A LOT.
At first it felt good.
AT LAST! I was in control of my destiny. I was finally in the driver’s seat calling the shots, so if my “gut” was like “AHH!“, I’d be like “OK got it, gut! I shall override nothing. My orders are loud and clear.“
But eventually, I began to wonder why I was still unhappy — especially when the Bad Things my “gut” had ASSURED me were just on the horizon never unfolded.
Not Every Brilliant Concept Is an Immediate “Hell Yes!”
Some of my coaching/spiritual/personal development folks already know what went wrong here:
I was letting my goofily-unregulated nervous system run the show… instead of my actual gut.
So instead, my fears and anxieties were making calls for my future. And both were trying desperately to keep me safe.
Thus, I’d unintentionally developed an allergy to risk, AND the need to sit in my self-belief in the face of the unknown.
I was also REALLY hoping a “gut feeling” was a flawless GPS for certainty (read: perfection).
And so, if I didn’t FEEL a certain way about something from the first second I thought of it, any time it took to cement or shape or anchor into that idea deeply was surely, I feared, an unnecessary override.
But not every really brilliant concept, message, or vision is an immediate OOH YES — especially in the creative world.
Courageous ownership of an idea (and the travels into the unknown that that ownership often requires) can take time to ground yourself in.
And Not Every Worry Is Worth Taking Seriously
So, how’s my “gut” these days?
I see it as an assuredness that stays consistent despite squalls of fear and doubt.
It’s also a signal and a tool, not a crystal ball of Perfect Knowing. And sometimes, flawed human that I am, I’m gonna read the signals wrong.
But I’m MUCH LESS likely to do so these days, because I’m no longer taking every passing worry so seriously that it makes calls for me. And that’s been an essential key.
And dang: it sure creates a lot less “cleanup on aisle 3”.