Listen to my gut

I’ve heard people talk about listening to their brand vs. listening to their heart. In fact, one of my favorite comics is based on this – The Awkward Yeti (photo of gut above is from the Awkward Yeti). But I realize I listen to my gut. The voice in my gut feels different than the voice in my brain or heart. At times, it feels like both of these voices together, but other times, the voice feels bigger than me. It’s the influence from something outside of me. Call it muse, inspiration, universe, or god.

I often feel like I’m very logical, practical, and super brain driven. But honestly, I’m not. I tend to follow that voice in my gut more times than not. My gut voice becomes most active when it is time for me to change, and I need to create a different life. In the past when I was miserable with life, this gut voice would scream at me. I tried to ignore it, and I ended up with an inflamed GI track. So, now I try to be a lot more open to my gut voice when it speaks. It’s bad news when I try to ignore it.

Change has happened quickly for me when I’ve listened to my gut voice in the past. For example, when my gut told me it was time to move back to Utah. At first, I tried to ignore that voice. My brain said no, you promised yourself to never go back. However, when I found the courage to listen to my gut and move back, the move happened in less than 2 weeks.

Since I’ve been back in Utah, I’ve been more open to letting my gut guide me. When my gut speaks, often I think, well this isn’t the most logical decision, but then I do it anyway. Well, this summer my gut started screaming at me again. Screaming at me in the volume that says it’s time for something big. It’s time for change. My gut was telling me it was time to grow and evolve into a new me.

Look, I know change is constant, so it’s not surprising that it was time for me to change. But at the same time, change is scary because it is unknown. I started reading a lot to help me understand what my gut was asking me to do. The Tiny Buddha blog has been a fantastic resource for me as I’ve listened to my gut this summer.

What was the reason I had to change? I look at the world I live in, and I haven’t been happy with it. It’s filled with fear and hate. I often felt so helpless – How do I change the world so it’s one I’m proud to be part of. I don’t feel that powerful in the grand scheme of things. I live in Ogden, Utah, not in some big city where power is concentrated. I’m not rich, I don’t have influential connections, I don’t have millions of social media followers, and I don’t have a science degree to invent climate change solutions… this list can go on and on with all the ways I lack to change the world.

Well, my gut yelled at me. No, that’s not how you can change the world. However, I gave you words and the ability to live a life of your choosing. Your words are your power. Use them. Share them. Share you. Share your life.

Great! That’s scary. Share my words! Share my life! First off, I’m terrible at being vulnerable. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding being vulnerable. Completely afraid that if I was vulnerable, I would be rejected and shamed. And shame is the one emotion that completely shuts me down. I freeze. I hide. I wish I was invisible. Now, I don’t think this is an abnormal reaction to shame. I’ve read enough Brené Brown to know this is a very common reaction to shame.

But I knew if I was going to start sharing my words and my life, I would have to be vulnerable and risk rejection and shame. How could I change myself so rejection and shame would lose their power over me? How could I be vulnerable and not be afraid of what might happen? Well, that voice in my gut told me it was time to change. It was time to be vulnerable, to share myself through my words, and face my fear of rejection and shame.

So, that’s what I did this summer. I listened to my gut. I learned how to face my fears. I learned how to experience rejection and shame without running away. I learned how to be vulnerable. To do this, I did a ton of journaling. I write to understand myself. I write help me experience my feelings. I write to get to know myself better. I also did a lot of meditation. I would take time to meditate and sit with my emotions. I would focus on feeling all my emotions not just the good emotions. Sitting with my emotions meant I had to feel them, I would acknowledge them and let them be. I wouldn’t force them away or try to hide. I had to let the pass when they passed on their own, not because I was trying to rush through them.

I also took a lot of time taking care of me. Treating myself with love and kindness, working on accepting all of me including those things I’m not happy with. Turning inward and listing to my gut voice and even listening to my hater voice so I could see what it was telling me what I’m afraid of. To face shame and rejection, I had to build myself up with love so I could withstand whatever they might throw at me. Part of self-care was also learning not to care what other people think. What others think is more about them and rarely about me. I noticed I would imagine what others might think of me and that would become my hater voice. I had to make that process stop. Now, when I start to care, I just think it’s none of my business what others think of me.

Finally, I had to face a few things about myself that caused me shame and that I was afraid I would be rejected if anyone knew about them. I had to face them, sit with them, and accept them as part of me. I had tried to hide them or pretend they weren’t there. I had to accept the shame they caused. So, I would sit in my bed and think, this is part of me. I’m okay with this as part of me. (ps. I’m not mentioning what they are because they are still personal but keeping something private doesn’t mean I’m ashamed anymore. It just means I’m claiming that just for me, and if you did find out I would be okay.) So, I sat there until I could accept it as part of me and the shame left. I knew that if I was rejected over these things, I had felt shame about, that this was their problem and not mine. And once I knew I had survived facing my shame that I had been hiding from, I could do that with anything that brought me shame or rejection. So, I think I’m ready.

This summer has been quite a journey and adventure for me. I do feel like I’m starting to come through the other side of this change. I’m ready to start sharing my words and the process I went through. I’m ready to be vulnerable and not let my fear of rejection and shame stop me. I’m excited and grateful for the gift of my words and the power they give me. I’m ready to share my life and the vision of the world I want to live in.