"Stress is what happens when your gut says 'no way,' but your mouth says 'no problem'."
~ Unknown

“Stress is what happens when your gut says ‘no way,’ but your mouth says ‘no problem’.”
~ Unknown

Saying “Yes” When My Gut Says No!

I first saw this quote on a refrigerator magnet in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I have since used it often in my seminars because it so nicely illustrates the importance of listening to our gut, or paying attention to our intuition. What this quote also says is that this “inner wisdom” can not only come in the form of an “inner voice,” but also a gut feeling. This is important because as we move toward making more purposeful decisions, we can use our entire body as a type of divining rod.

We certainly began life this way. As babies, and even as young children, most of us were very in touch with these inner signals. We knew immediately when something felt “off,” and didn’t hesitate to give voice to this knowledge. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, however, most of us have lost touch with this gut level knowing, or at least our willingness to acknowledge it. Now, instead of paying attention when something feels “off” and speaking to this awareness, many of us find ourselves just going along to get along. Whether we are trying to avoid rejection, abandonment, disapproval, or just some deep-seated fear that in order to be “liked” we mustn’t rock the boat, the result is that potentially valuable information is being lost when we ignore these “gut” feelings.

The problems that result from saying “no problem” when we really feel like saying “no way” are several fold. First, we will often find ourselves going in very different directions as a result of saying “yes” when we really mean “no,” or vice versa. Because this path is incongruent with what we need, it will likely become increasingly uncomfortable until we just can’t take it anymore. We then must undue all the incongruent decisions that have been made up to this point, and this can be a painful process for all concerned. Second, we often find ourselves resenting those for whom we “sacrificed” our intuition, thinking that it’s “their fault” and that they now “owe” us something for that sacrifice.

This perspective has obvious flaws because, given that this internal decision has remained internal, it is rare that the other person even knows what has happened. In fact, it’s possible that this person is even assuming that we are taking responsibility for taking care of ourselves (given we are in the best position to know what we need), and that our decisions reflect our best judgment and agreement. This will often result in their saying “Well, why didn’t you say something?” when, later, we finally do speak up.

The third problem and potentially most destructive, however, is the effect not trusting our intuition has on how we see ourselves. Or, as author Barbara Graham so eloquently puts it, “I’ve learned that each time we ignore our inner voice, we shrink a little inside.”

Therefore, given that our goals in life don’t include going down paths that are incongruent with what we need, resenting others for forcing us to make these incongruent choices, and continuing to diminish our sense of self in the process, maybe we should do ourselves and those around us a favor, and begin to pay more attention to these internal signals. As we do, we might discover the value of living authentically and congruently… where our gut and our words are saying the same thing.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill