Last week, I mentioned a lesson from my 20s was learning to trust my body. The lesson my 30s is teaching me is learning to trust my gut.
You know that feeling when you're about to send an email, but you feel like you should wait a few minutes?
Or when you get invited to something and ev.er.y part of you is telling you not to commit, but you say yes anyway?
Or when someone asks you to collaborate, sit on a committee, promote their brand, host their event, etc. and a quiet little voice is saying: ask to sleep on it! But instead you say, of course! before even taking a breath?
That little voice is your gut.
It's strong and powerful. But I've noticed that we, as women, often don't listen to our guts. We trust our moms, sisters, husbands, boyfriends, friends - heck maybe even a cashier - before we trust our guts. We run our decisions up and down our safety lines, assuming everyone around us can provide greater insight into our situations than we could garner on our own.
But you know what? Most of the time, we already know what to do. If we get really quiet, we know how to proceed.
This summer, the pastor at our church talked about decision fatigue in society. We're making hundreds of decisions each day - the internet creating more access, which means more choices. With these choices, our minds are overwhelmed and we're losing the ability to make quick decisions.
In Kenya, Chris and I both noticed that we actually recovered from decision fatigue. We had no social invitations, very little discretion around our daily schedules or eating habits, no TV to watch and nothing to purchase. Each day, we woke up, went to work, worked out, made dinner and got in bed to read one of the three books we'd brought. We ate the same thing for breakfast and lunch each day.
We were making very few decisions and it created more space for our minds to settle. Our simplified lives allowed us to live a bit more freely, creating space for us to trust our guts when we needed to make decisions.
During the sermon at church, our pastor talked about how we, as Christians, often say "I'll pray on it" when we don't want to have to make a tough decision. And then, we ask everybody in our lives what to do. He talked about how God has already equipped us to make small decisions. It honors Him when we trust our guts, because He's speaking to us through them. He has already given us the ability to discern what is right when it comes to day-to-day decisions.
There are a million reasons we don't trust our own instincts. Sometimes, I think it's because women are relational, and inviting people into the decision-making process creates connection with those we love.
Sometimes, I think we're afraid to have the onus on us. If we get enough opinions, we can convince ourselves we all shared the decision, instead of taking complete responsibility for it.
At times, we lack the confidence to really go for it. To be brave enough to say, I know what to do! Because those are bold words.
These days, I'm working on trusting my gut in the big and small decisions. I'm learning to be a little bit bolder and believe that, if I make the wrong choice, it won't be the end of the world, because it creates greater space for grace and self-compassion.
Here's to hoping this lesson doesn't take me a decade to learn :)
PS: If you want to hear more about this topic, I thought this was a great podcast on it from Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle (scroll to episode 6).