Head, heart and gut

I’ve had a decision hanging over me over the past few weeks.

A decision about a course that I could be part of over an extended period of time.

Usually I would know what to do. I’d have a feeling or would know logically that it was the right or wrong thing to do for my life.

But this time it was different.

My head was ruling all my ponderings and wonderings.

I had so many questions going around my head. 

Should I do this course? Would it be good for me? Is the length of it too long? How would I afford it? Was it the right decision? What if I said ‘yes’ and it turned out to be the wrong decision? Would I disappoint others if I said ‘no’? Would I disappoint myself if I said ‘yes’? How would this fit into my duties of motherhood and being a wife and a daughter and a friend? How would this fit alongside work? Did I have enough leave for the course? What if I did this course and no longer fit in with where I am now? What if I didn’t do it and stayed stuck where I am?

So many questions! 

I felt so anxious about the answer because I didn’t know what to do and I always know what to do.

This was a new feeling to me.

And so I meditated on it and I sought a different perspective about what I should do.

And the message I got back is this:

“It’s okay to use your head to think logically about whether this is the right course for you. But don’t forget the other parts of you that need to inform your decision.

Your heart and your gut.

Listen to them.”

My friend Sarah has been an angel this weekend.

She has listened to me talk over again and again what I should do and has helped me to return to my heart and my intuition to find a balance in taking this decision.

I realised, with her help, that when I think from my heart and consider what this course could do for me, I want to do it. With uncertainty about where it would take me. With knowledge that this is a course that won’t serve me in my ‘career’. But not all things need to be purposeful to be right. And although I feel trepidation, it is a good trepidation of stepping into what might be possible.

My heart says yes despite the uncertainty.

I have listened to my intuition this weekend too. And when I’ve heard the voice of intuition, I’ve been met with an openness to this course. A big ‘yes’ inside me when I think of the excitement of uncertainty. The possibility that springs from something new and different and exciting.

And so I’ve decided to go for it. To enrol onto this course and see what that will bring.

Knowing that there are still questions and uncertainties but that’s okay. This uncertainty is a new experience for me, one I’m enjoying.

Not knowing.

I’m sharing this with you in case you have big decisions to make, dear friend, in the hope that you’ll not only listen to your logic, but also your heart and your gut.

They all have their wisdom to bring and can serve us in different ways as we make our way along the path of life.

Intuition

I’ve not been great at trusting my intuition, instead I’ve always tended to trust people in positions of authority. I think our education system, culture and my personality has meant that I tend to trust others and this has often manifested as trusting others more than I trust myself.

This is a tricky one to untangle but I think the crux of me trusting others more than my own intuition is this:

  1. I make assumptions about small things in life – where a restaurant is, what time a party starts, how long it will take me to get somewhere – but for the big things in life where others are depending on me being right (things at work, finances, facts), I will make sure I’m 100% certain that I’m right before offering my thoughts. So when someone else puts their opinion forward with conviction, I assume that their view is right (I mean surely they wouldn’t put their views forward if they weren’t 100% certain they were right?!). But I’ve become aware that this might not always be the case – they may not be right.
  2. I also used to think in absolutes – that there was a ‘right’ answer to everything. But my thinking has changed and I know that there are multiple answers to everything and I believe that one person’s right might be another person’s wrong.
  3. I’ve never liked confrontation very much or disagreeing with other people. As a coping mechanism – to not have to disagree with anyone – I’ve tended to let go of my opinions in favour of other people’s views. But I know that this isn’t how I want to live.

And so I know that I need to start listening to my own intuition more. And now is exactly the right time as a mother navigating the many and varied polarised views about parenting. There’s so much that I need to form an opinion on at the moment – feeding, whether to use a dummy or not, sleeping, how much stimulation he needs, the types of nappies we use, weaning, nurseries… So many decisions that need to be made and so many people weighing in with their opinions about what is best.

In order to trust my intuition about these things, I know that I need to address some of what I’ve explored above – getting better at confrontation, reminding myself that there are very few absolutes in life and practice living by the very eloquent words of the hiphop artist Chipmunk (is he still around?!) in the song Champion:

“opinions aren’t facts take them in and let them go”

And I also know that I need to trust my intuition about how to start trusting my intuition – I hope that makes sense! There are so many books, blogs, videos and people who have their own opinions about so many things. They can drown out my own instincts about what is best for me and my family. So I’m going to have a hiatus from reading, watching, following all these things in order to get some quiet and space to understand what is right for me.

One of my coaching clients made a really great point when we last spoke – how it’s better to start making small incremental changes instead of going for 100% perfection. And so I’m also going to take her very wise advice and work on trusting my instincts with trying to get my son, Jenson, to fall asleep by himself in the daytime.

And that’s what I did yesterday.

I put Jenson down in his bed when his eyes were red-rimmed and he was milk-drunk tired. He is used to sleeping on me and let me know he didn’t like this new arrangement by crying. I set my timer to 5 minutes – a time I was comfortable leaving him to grizzle (as long as it wasn’t the distressed cry that I recognise and would always respond to). But before the timer was up he stopped crying for a few moments and sat peacefully by himself before starting to grizzle again. And on this went for about 15 minutes until he went to sleep and had a 30 minute nap.

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I’d felt nervous about trying this but it showed me that I could set my own parameters – only leaving him when he was grizzling – and that my intuition that he was able to sleep alone was right.

And oh the things I did in those 30 minutes (I wonder how I spent my time before he came along!) – made and ate lunch, hung out the washing, wrote most of this, responded to some e-mails, sat in quiet for a moment. It was totally worth trusting my intuition for me to find some alone time in the day and for Jenson to learn to soothe himself – a skill I think is really important for him.

I know that this approach is not for everyone – some of my mum friends aren’t even considering leaving their little one to self-settle if it involves them crying until they are much older. But that’s what intuition is about, right? Knowing that we are individuals who will have different views, opinions, needs. And trusting ourselves that we will make the right judgement call…and that it’s ok if once in a while we get the call wrong.

It’s all about learning.

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