What’s Intuition Got to Do With It?
When confusion sets in.
Before waking up to a new awareness, my life was like the video game “Frogger,” trying to hop across the road through New York traffic, during rush hour, no crosswalks anywhere. I more often than not ended up flattened. I didn’t even know what I was searching for on the other side of the road, only that the side I was on wasn’t where I wanted to be. I kept jumping onto cars, thinking this car or that one was going to take me across the road. I hitched rides on the teacher truck, the artist bus, the mom minivan, the volunteer dump truck, the project manager ambulance, the business analyst station wagon, and the research assistant bike. Each one had it’s good points – the excitement of a brand new vehicle with its shiny paint job, new car smell, dependable tires, powerful engine, audio system, and the carpool with new people. I tried to stay on my rides, but none of these transports ever quite crossed the road for me, and I invariably slid off, jumped off, or fell off (pot holes, speed bumps, and stop lights). Dissatisfied, searching, annoyed, tired, and a bit lost, I seriously couldn’t figure out what to do with my life, but I kept jumping at chances like I was taught to do – say yes to opportunities.
The one thing that I hadn’t really paid attention to in regards to major decisions was how I actually felt about them; you know, instinct, intuition, gut reactions. Instead, I said yes to so many things that weren’t right for me and invited so many people into my life that were not people with whom I connected in a good way.
I became involved with jobs, projects, and others’ agendas that didn’t mesh well with me and eventually began to make me physically sick from the stress; as in dropping so much weight my shorts literally slipped off my hips in front of a stage full of peeps. Don’t worry – I caught them before they fell too far. Of course, several people saw the glorious view of my nylon-covered butt and pointedly told me to eat.
That weight-losing, stress-inducing, volunteer gig really hit me hard. I said yes to every single project – summer play set design/build/coordination/mothering, summer art camps creator/organizer/coordinator/teacher, and board president agenda mesherer. Emails, texts, phone calls: talking/negotiating/nagging/begging people were so not my favorite things to do. Plus, working five to eight hours a day for free while being a full-time mom was exhausting. When I quit everything all in one fell, no more swoop, they called it pulling an Ashley. I couldn’t even summon enough energy to give a good damn.
Of course, being the sucker for pain and perfectionism that I am, I decided to repeat the stress-me-out pattern just to make sure I had it right, hiring on for a job, which had about ten jobs rolled into one. I again became completely stressed out, underpaid, resentful, blaming, and well – lost. I lost myself, lost sight of my own goals, joys, wants, needs, and desires. I said yes to more and more and even pushed for more and more until it got to the point that I actually dreaded (sick stomach) my phone ringing or that dang text message beep (stomach drop), or that email ping (run away or heave the computer out the window, depending on the day).
I sincerely think scrubbing out toilets with my toothbrush sounded more appealing than my job near the end. Don’t get me wrong, my employer was a really nice person, but the job was an ambulance careening from one emergency to the next with sirens blaring and lights constantly on. I jumped out of that ambulance and got my toes run over pretty badly for it.
With flattened toes, I limped my way into the fed up zone, ready to figure out a smarter, better way to approach decisions. I was ready to get out of the stream of never-ending jobs (teacher, administrative assistant, lab supervisor, business analyst, research assistant, and project manager) that didn’t quite fulfill me or left me frenetic and frazzled. I was ready to stop jumping on the yes-ride of projects and volunteer positions, based on a list of pros and cons that marginally addressed my needs – social interaction, income, and brain stimulation. Spending my life trying to logically force my way into a decision wasn’t working, but the body pains and obvious cues sure made themselves felt (stress, heart palpitations, sleeplessness, worry, anxiety, and depression).
When I started saying no to things that didn’t feel good, I experienced serious body relief. On the positive side, I began to figure out the world wouldn’t end, people would like me or not, but I would still be just fine.
Exploring what I truly did like doing and listening to what made me feel good/satisfied/happy, I began to arrow in on how to incorporate those feel-good-in-my-center parts into my life. I tapped into my body feels to guide me and meshed together all the good things that I liked into a job that pays me and makes me happy, excited, and fulfilled. Listening to my feelings/intuition about people led me to wonderful people, and understanding my body wisdom led me to a greater connection to me and to better and better decisions.
Paying attention to those feelings that I had been ignoring, I began trying to sort out what my gut had been trying to tell me all along. What did those feelings in my core tell me?
Tight gut, sick gut, disgusted gut, happy gut, excited gut, relaxed gut.
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