Chances Are Your Intuition is Right
A few years ago, I read a really fascinating book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s book about the science behind a gut feeling. It goes into depth about how the body and mind are actually wired to have intuition as a fight or flight sense from back when we were cavemen and cavewomen.
For example, you might get a feeling when you go to buy a car that the salesman is lying to you, but you cannot put your finger on how you just know he is lying. There must’ve been something during your exchange that made the wiring in the brain send off an alarm telling you to watch out.
Only recently did I realize how much this book could have helped me in my life had I read it sooner.
There is this reoccurring scenario that has appeared throughout my life and it is the inability to trust myself and to trust in my own instinct. I’m not talking about trusting friends, strangers, or other people in general. I’m talking trust as in acting on the initial vibe I get in certain situations. I can recount experience after experience where I trusted what someone else had said to me over my own intuition or knowledge. In other words, I did not believe that I could be right in most circumstances.
If someone else was telling me something they were thinking was right, surely I must be wrong. It was rare in my twenties that I ever argued my point on pretty much anything. In my early thirties is when I actually think I started to speak up more and actually debate things with people, friends, and even family. If you’re reading this and you can relate, hopefully some of my experiences below will bring you to your senses because your gut feeling matters immensely! And so does your opinion of course. Knock knock self- where on earth have you been?
Here are some significant instances in my life that are prime examples of how ignoring that inner voice can get someone into trouble. In these examples I actually trusted what someone else had said to me over what my brain and body were screaming at me.
- The birth of my second son was a doozy. I almost had him in the car, then again on the pavement in the hospital parking lot, then in the elevator on the way up to delivery. I was physically trying NOT to push so we could make it to the hospital room and my body was like HELL NO. This was because I was holding onto the numbers the midwife had given me: 4:1:1. She had told me if my contractions were not 4 minutes apart, lasting for a minute and starting again each 60 seconds, then I should not go to the hospital. This was because I really wanted a VBAC and the concern was that if I went to the hospital too early the doctors would come up with a reason to give me a c-section. She also said if I could still walk and talk I should not head to the hospital or call her either . Well we almost didn’t make it to the hospital room thanks to me not listening to my body. I went from 11:1:1 to 9:1:1 to the uncontrollable urge to push my baby out. Forget the contractions being 4 minutes apart! I had a strong feeling that I should have headed to the hospital sooner, but flat out ignored my own sound advice.
- I made a stupid health-related decision that could have caused me paralysis. A few years ago I had a tiny pea-sized bump on my lower spine. My primary doctor told me it was common and unless it grew, not to worry about it. One day it grew to the size of a golf ball and looked like spider babies were going to hatch out of it. I went to a dermatologist where they promptly drained it and assured me it was no big deal. The doctor said if I started to feel sick or if it started to ache to go to a walk in urgent center or the ER, but that I might have better luck being seen faster at a walk in clinic. 30 minutes later I was in horrible shape. I called my husband and asked what I should do. He said it was probably infected, no big deal, and to follow the dermatologist’s advice and head to a an urgent care center. Looking back-I must’ve been delirious because I knew it was serious and I should have gone right to the ER- not a walk in clinic! The doctor at the clinic said indeed I had an infection that must’ve got into my blood when the dermatologist had drained the raised bump . He asked if he should operate right there to pull out whatever was left and to see what else was going on in there. He warned me that it could be serious. I was passing out and time was of the essence so I nodded my head. He needed to fix me. The local anesthetic needle went into my skin but then I felt it come out the other side. As a result, I could feel the numbing agent dripping down my back. I let the doc know the medicine did not go in and he said legally he could not give me the anesthetic twice. I pretty much died at this moment. I lay there feeling every cut and tool digging into my back for what felt like an eternity. I am pretty sure there was convulsing going on- no lie- and I cried pretty hard. To make matters even more uncomfortable, the deeper he cut into my back, the more he explained how serious the situation was. The cyst had long roots that had penetrated the 4 layers of skin and was breaking through the final layer, the fascia, which is the layer that protects the spinal cord. Had I waited any longer, he said I could have lost the ability to walk for up to 6 months, maybe longer. When he got it out, he helped me up and the nurse walked me to the waiting room. I went into shock there. You can’t go through something like that and just walk out of an urgent care ready to carry on with your life. My husband called me upset asking which clinic I had gone to. He had been trying to reach me for awhile. I tried to tell him but I could not speak properly. My mouth and brain did not work together and I was starting to shake uncontrollably. The gauze on my back had already been soaked in blood and saturated my shirt, ran down the seat of my pants and was dripping onto the waiting room floor. With the help of the receptionist we were able to get my husband directed to the clinic I was sitting in. When he arrived, he placed his hand on my back to help me out the door and I remember there was so much blood he had to borrow towels from the urgent care center to put on the car seat for the drive home. I had to go back 3 times to have drains and bandages changed. There is a nasty hack job of a scar on my back now as a result. What’s the take home message? I should have never gone alone and I should have gone to an actual surgeon in the ER at a hospital. I should not have listened to the derm, or my husband, or the urgent care doctor. I should have known based on how rapidly I became ill following my visit to the dermatologist, that something very serious was happening. If only I had followed through on my gut instinct.
- I questioned my decision to run like hell from a job with a predatory boss. One of the first office jobs I took when I moved to CT at 22 years-old was for a small business that was owned by a couple. There were 3 other employees and we all worked out of their home. One day the wife went on a business trip. At 5 pm when I was packing up to leave, her husband, also my boss, asked me to stay after everyone else. He called to me from their basement to come downstairs to his work station for a talk. He started asking me about my life, why I moved from Chicago to CT, and my boyfriend. Then it got all types of creepy and he moved over to the stairs obstructing my only way out. Then he SAT on the stairs just as we were wrapping up the conversation. It was an odd move because the natural thing to have done at this point in the conversation would have been to say “good-bye” or “see you tomorrow”. Instead he delved further into his questioning. He started asking me personal questions about my relationship. I quick made up a fib about dinner plans and squeezed past him and ran like hell out of there. I drove to the recruiter’s office in the morning to let her know what had happened. She debated with me that she had known the couple for many years and surely this was a misunderstanding. She called the couple on speaker at that moment and when she explained I was quitting because I felt uncomfortable, the man AND woman flew into a rage, screaming and swearing into the phone. The recruiter turned bright red and took them off speaker so I could no longer hear their name-calling. I left her office upset and she said she would call me when things settled down a bit. Thankfully, I had a job at an accessory store in a mall to bring in money until I got another full time professional position. To my horror, that was not my last experience with that man. He proceeded to call my cell phone for weeks leaving messages begging me to come back and work for them. Then he started showing up to my night job at the mall at closing time. I would have to hide in the back or duck behind the cash register, petrified he would see me and follow me to my car. We started getting hang ups on the days I worked and even on days when I wasn’t in. The staff also said he left his name a few times and asked that I please return his calls. To this day, it baffles me that the recruiter tried to coerce me into going back there. She had actually made me feel like I was overreacting and had dreamt up the whole thing. To think I had actually doubted myself and thought about going back at one point boils my blood.
These are only 3 examples where not trusting my own intuition got me into trouble or could have put me in far worse danger. The crazy thing is -I could give you so many more examples. What’s so interesting about life, that is often forgotten or unrealized is that we are still learning about ourselves . I challenge you to find out what you could be doing differently to improve yourself. Whether your 60 or 16, there are things about yourself that may not come to light until you are ready to acknowledge them.