A lot of the time we confuse intuition and emotion and it causes us to make stupid choices.
As humans, we do stupid things sometimes.
We jump into things that seem simple and get hurt. We tiptoe around things that are risky and they turn out just fine.
We build on the backs of our past experiences.
Have you ever done something that you though it was the the right thing to do? Thought you were jumping into someone’s arms willing to catch you and wound up falling flat on your butt?
The point is, we have all made that kind of decision. And we have all fallen on our butts at some point.
The horrible part of it is that every time we get that drive after we’ve fallen, we question our judgment… every… single… time.
And that sucks more than anything, not feeling like you can trust yourself to make those calls.
So, let’s talk about getting to a place where you CAN trust yourself to make those decisions and then learning to implement that trust regularly.
Let’s talk about why you can trust your gut in the first place.
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Your mind logs every bit of information that you observe throughout every day of your life. So if you are 18… you have 18 years of information and experience rolling around in your head. You just don’t have access to it all.
There’s this great trick that your mind does, specifically your subconscious. It is constantly searching for connections. When you start shopping for a specific car… you start to see them EVERYWHERE.
Several years ago I took my nephew to a Mavericks game, but my car ended up being in the shop when I went to go pick him up from school to drive the two hours to Dallas. So, I got a rental car… a Mazda 3.
This was almost 10 years ago, but I can tell you this right now… that car drove smoother than mine ever did. I started seeing them everywhere, even without trying. Still to this day, I see one and I think of the other things going on during that time. My nephew had just been hazed because it was his senior year. They put Nair on his head and gave him third degree burns.
We talked about it on the ride up there. I still remember the song we sang together and ended up cracking up… because who doesn’t love a little Busta Ryhmes “Look at Me Now”?
Now, Mazdas have nothing to do with Busta Ryhmes. But I think of him EVERY SINGLE TIME I see one now… ten years later.
Our minds do wonderful things… like muscle memory.
Gut Instinct .vs. Emotional Drive
For an example closer to what you are dealing with:
Let’s say you are in a relationship with someone and you notice that they are pulling away. You start to pick up on red flags. Do you know what makes you notice those things? Past experience makes you notice them. But it isn’t like you scour your memory for them. They come up when your brain makes the connection with something you notice in the here and now.
Instinct is an amazing thing, but you have to learn to recognize it and know the difference between that and just seeing what you want to see. That’s the hard part.
Be Aware of Your Feelings
Going into a situation after a breakup, you will find yourself wanting to do something drastic and spontaneous often. You have to learn whether you are following a natural instinct or just letting some wishful thinking. In order to know that you have to know how you feel about the situation.
You constantly have an ongoing conversation going on in your head. And you are rarely aware that it’s going on. Most of those thoughts are repeated again and again.
I had a falling out with a friend a while back and, to this day, I still replay a conversation we had and come up with better responses.
So, once you begin to recognize thoughts that you have and see them as responses to situations. You have to figure out what it is that is triggering that thought process.
Learn to pause before you make rash decisions.
Identify the emotion you are feeling and then figure out if there is another underlying emotion that is fueling the primary one. For example, anger is almost always hiding fear.
Accept the feelings that you are having. But wait until you are calm and collected before you make major decisions.
How Has Your Gut Instinct Worked in the Past
As I’m sure you are aware that strong instinct doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But everyone has it. It can be nurtured… like a baby… and stoked… like a fire. It grows. okay, maybe we shouldn’t call your instinct a fire baby. That would be… weird.
Okay, anyways, here’s what you are going to do:
Think back over your life and make a list of all the times that your instinct has pulled through for you.
I can think of one instance in particular.
I felt off about a date I went on in college.
There was literally nothing in particular that made me not like him. I just got a weird feeling about him. So when he asked for a second date, I told him I was flattered, but no.
For three weeks he was calling me every thirty minutes, even through the nights. Then he started showing up at my work and harassing my coworkers.
I realized that I avoided a pretty serious situation when I had to call the police to have him removed from my front yard, especially since I didn’t tell him where I lived.
So, make the list. It might be a long list. It might be short. But, no matter how active your instinct is, you need to learn to recognize the feeling that accompanied it.
How Instinct Works
So, now that you have the capacity to recognize the difference between the driving forces that are telling you what to do, let’s talk about strengthening your intuition. In order to do this you have to understand how intuition works.
It’s just like a muscle, once you understand how it works, you can exercise it and make it more efficient.
So, let’s talk about how it works. It all starts with where you get your information.
Information that comes from the outside, like physical things and the associations and assumptions you have about the world around you. IT is unpredictable and frustrating.
What happens when you are faced with something unexpected?
Do you react calmly right away or do you overreact?
Do you get defensive?
The reason this happens is because when our brains are presented with a situation it goes into “fight or flight” mode. “Fight or flight” is powered by adrenaline. Adrenaline is an automatic response and it doesn’t factor in caution or reason.
When you make assumptions that aren’t based on fact, you are setting yourself up to make mistakes.
When we pull information from our subconscious, the details are more easily accessed, just not always easily accepted.
For example, right now you are in situation where you feel like you’ve lost something. Along with that comes feelings of fear, abandonment, or resentment. It’s not always easy to identify or admit that we are feeling this way.
But, once you recognize those feelings and accept them, you have the opportunity to respond gracefully and have more positive outcomes.
All you have to do is learn how to react to the information in front of you.
Whether you are dealing with information that is coming from external sources or information that your mind comes up with, like beliefs or values, you have to decide how you are going to react to that information once you determine if your first are:
irrational – impulsive and emotional
rational – reasonable,thorough, and based on fact
So, lets talk about my favorite way to learn how to react appropriately. I get super excited ever time I talk about this thought process.
Mind Like Water
I LOVE this concept because it is SO true.
I was reading a book about organizing file systems and the author brought this up because a lot of people let their to-do’s pile up instead of addressing them.
The concept is this: In karate there is a way of thinking called “Mind Like Water.”
“Mind Like Water” is learning not to respond to little things as if they are huge. Think about when you throw a pebble into a lake… you don’t expect it to result in tidal waves, right?
And when you see a whale to one of those ridiculous belly flops, you’d be completely shocked if there was no splash at all… right?
That would be crazy!
Unless you’re in outer space, water reacts totally appropriately to whatever is thrown at it. You need to learn how to do that. Actually, you should become a MASTER at it!
Before the Hangover meme took over the internet, a friend and I were having an argument about her breakup. She kept saying,
“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me!”
Her boyfriend had cheated on her… with two of her sisters.
I went to get her some water and she locked the door to her room behind me. When I cam back she wouldn’t let me in. I could here her sobbing through the door, so I laid down on the floor and looked under the door. she was laying on the other side and kept saying, “I can’t breathe.” She was having a panic attack.
So I decided to talk her down by asking her the one thing my estranged uncle used to ask us when we got hurt when we were kids, like falling off the swing set.
“Alright, well what do you want on your headstone?”
Suddenly, she stopped crying.
“What the hell? You’re supposed to be making me feel better.”
“Well, obviously you can’t survive without him. So, I’m just being proactive.”
I could hear her doing that thing where you try to catch your breath after a good cry. She scooted closer to the door and stuck her fingers under. I could tell she was trying to point at me accusingly, but I opted to hold her hand.
“You are a terrible best friend.”
“Well, luckily I’ll be have to find a new best friend soon, so I can use what I learned here to be a better best friend to them. I mean… obviously, you’re dying.”
Her hand disappeared and the door flew open.
“Shutup! I’m not dying!”
I just sat there looking at her, waiting for it to dawn on her that she had just admitted that she could survive this even though she felt like crap.
You can have the greatest friends ever, but until you are honest with yourself about the severity of the situation, you can’t deal with it appropriately.
So, if you learn to ask yourself important questions before you let yourself react, you can move forward using your instinct, AKA your gut.
- Are you dying in the next five minutes? ten minutes? No? Then you can survive this.
- Will this keep you from doing accomplishing other things you want to accomplish? (There are very few things outside of death that will bring your entire life to a halt.)
If you find that you are overwhelmed with the feeling of “the end,” there is one more question to get yourself to a “Mind like Water” mindset.
- If this was happening to someone I care about (a sister, brother, or friend) would I think my reaction is an overreaction?
Think of your intuition as your board of advisers. And they’ve got your back.
Did you know that your mind can hold more than one opinion about something?
It’s called cognitive dissonance. It’s the result of internal dialogue and a lot of people think that there is something wrong with them when they realize that they can’t settle on one opinion.
When, in reality, it’s just empathy, the ability to see your situation from other people’s viewpoints.
This ability actually makes it possible to make more informed decisions.
Let’s say that you are dealing with the aftermath of a breakup, and you are having a hard time dealing with the emotional onslaught that comes with it. You want your ex back. But you also want to be with someone who values you.
Now, assuming your ex is treating you poorly after the breakup, then you have one of two choices.
- You can decide to wait around for her to suddenly respect you. (unlikely)
- You can go on with life and give the other people in your life a reason to respect you. Then, only get back together if she learns to see and treat you differently.
- You can go on with life and give the other people in your life a reason to respect you and find someone new who respects you from the beginning of the relationship.
In this situation, you have to determine what is more important to you. If it were me, I would choose to earn respect and then go from there, but that is because respect is important to me and getting your ex back is something you don’t necessarily have control over.
It’s like those SAT questions that ask which answer is MOST right. You have to decide what is MOST important to you.
And for the sake of my sanity, please don’t say getting laid, because if that is the most important thing to you… you have bigger issues than going through a breakup. I mean if that’s your reason then, go for it, but if you want to get her back and build a relationship, it should be based on more than sex.
Wrap it Up
Alright, we’ve covered a lot today and I have given you a LOT to think about.
So, I’ll just remind you of a couple things before I wrap things up.
You CAN survive any situation no matter how much it feels like you cant. All you have to decide is how to react and what is MOST important to you.
Leave your thoughts, questions and comments in below. Our team would love to hear from you!
And, as always… Do great things!