Tuesday, April 27, 2010

...everyone has one and they all STINK

Surely, you've heard what they say about opinions. There is no shortage of people with opinions and likewise, those who want to share them with you. I believe that most people tell you what they think because they have good intentions. They care about you, want you to be happy and they are attempting to be helpful.

The thing is, it's easy to feel like you're drowning in opinions. So much so, that your own voice can quickly become lost in the shuffle. When a major, life-altering decision looms in front of you, the people who love you walk a thin line. They shakily straddle a line between telling you what you should do (or what they would do) and letting you make your own decisions.

One of my very favorite books is the NY Times bestseller, The Gift of Fear written by Gavin de Becker, who is an expert in psychology and predicting violence. He's been on Oprah several times and has preached an idea that has stuck with me. Gavin says that human beings are the only animal that will instinctively sense fear and ignore it. A gazelle wouldn't walk into an elevator to ride up 5 floors with a lion, so why do we? Well, we do it because we don't want to be impolite. We do it because we don't want people to dislike us or think we're snooty. We often hear people who have been assaulted or violated say that they just "had a feeling" or "something didn't feel right." The moment we ignore those feelings, says de Becker, is the moment we put ourselves in danger.

This feeling, that sense that we have? It's our gut. I believe that in every major decision we make---I'm talking about high caliber, life altering decisions here---it's our gut that tells us which direction to go. It's just a matter of whether we're willing to listen to what it says.

Think about it: The last time you made a major decision, like buying a house or marrying someone, your mind raced. Maybe you made the right choice; perhaps you failed miserably. Did you convince yourself it was right, or was it right?

Regardless, there was a point where you had an epiphany and realized what was right. That was your gut talking. So often, it's our first thought, the one that immediately crops into our brain when we are presented with an important choice. Soon enough, though, our hearts and brains take over and cause us to doubt ourselves. We want to give it some time, we don't want to rush into things, we want to wait and see how it shakes out. We worry that we might disappoint people, or go against what someone "thinks" we should do. We fear that perhaps we're making the wrong choice and fear that we'll live in regret in ten years.

Time is a good thing, it really is. It almost always provides us with clarity and allows us to sift through the background noise. It can be torturous, but it's necessary. For me, a proud member of the "I can't stand waiting for anything and I want to do it right now and not have to wait this is driving me crazy" club, it can be nearly impossible.

My advice: give it time and always trust your gut.

Except, of course, when it tells you it's a good idea to go to Taco Bell at 2 a.m. That's clearly not the best advice your gut has ever given you.

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