You’re not wrong
How often do you make decisions based on what you simply seem to know, in your core, to be true?
You can call it instinct, or intuition… or just your ‘gut’. Whatever it is, do you trust it?
But here’s the thing: you’re not wrong.
A little story
When I was 20, I leaned in and kissed him.
We talked and kissed again. Made vague plans for a future date. Parted for the night.
Actually, we parted.
I had seen him a few times before that particular date. We had met at a party of mutual friends. We shared a love of buffalo wings. He had me in tears with laughter with stories about his brothers. He was a grad student in engineering. We went out a couple of times – dinner, a picnic. He was kind of perfect.
Kind of. Until I kissed him. And then we never went out again.
For a long time, I tried to figure it out. What had gone sideways? I would still occasionally see him in the student union or out with a group of friends, and he was friendly but distant. Over and over again, I replayed the time we spent together. I did not mistake the attraction. I did not misinterpret our connection. I did not make up the desire.
My intuition was not wrong. But somehow, my action was not quite right.
How often do you follow your gut?
Our intuition, inner voice, gut instinct… choose the term you prefer… picks up on cues beyond our basic visual and audio data. It picks up on micro expressions our eyes don’t have time to register but our brains do. It picks up on vocal quivers that indicate a deeper level of feeling. It reads the energy behind the words, the gestures that indicate nervousness or excitement. Our intuition tells us when someone is repressing a strong emotion, when someone is lying – to us or to herself- or when a situation is about to go sideways. It’s that feeling you get that goes beyond your logical thoughts or the activity you see around you.
Using your intuition – respecting it and responding to it – is a powerful action. It’s trusting yourself fully.
But there are times when even though your intuition is spot on, the action you take based on that may seem wrong – that is, it doesn’t generate the response you expected given what you “know”. As in the case of that kiss. Was I wrong for going along with my intuition?
I was not. Because while I questioned my ability to read a person and situation for a long time after that, I did later learn that my intuition was spot-on but there was another reason, which had nothing to do with me, that triggered the engineering student’s sudden distance.
More importantly, by following my intuition, I learned. Quite a bit. I learned that Mr. Near Perfect was not for me, nor would he ever be. I learned that spending hours replaying scenarios and making up new ones with imaginary conversations is a colossal waste of time. I learned that I can spend many days making up 57 counter arguments to what my gut is telling me and still won’t be any the wiser until I finally take action.
I gained a greater sense of trust in myself and in my observation skills. I gained the joy of being spontaneous. I gained the pleasure of owning my reactions – emotional and logical – and not feeling the need to explain them or apologize for them. I gained the freedom to just be myself.
If you follow your gut, allow yourself to be that curious, somewhat unpredictable person who’s eager to burst out, what do you have to lose?
But more importantly, what do you have to gain?
Natalie Hahn is a principal at Dirty Girls Consulting, offering special programs that coach women moving into leadership roles. Women work differently, think differently, and it is up to us to allow this difference to become our strengths. We explore breaking free of traditional standards, accomplishing professional and personal goals to create an authentic, fully loved life. Read more Dirty Girl Consulting blogs here.