Shouldn’t We Always Listen to Our Gut?

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“Every time you say yes but your body is saying no, your nervous system finds a way to say no for you.”

I read this online today, (scrolling through instagram…ugh!) and at first it really resonated with me. Maybe it does for you too. It sure can take a toll when we ignore what our body is telling us. We all have been there– we agree to the job that is all wrong for us, say yes to a commitment that overextends us, or which puts us with people who make us uncomfortable. We may in those cases have a “gut feeling” that we’re making the wrong decision and we may later find ourselves with a migraine, a stomach-ache, tight achey muscles, or many other bodily expressions of a nervous system “saying no.” So if that all can happen, what’s wrong with this statement? 

Well first*, it’s unrealistic. We have to do things all the time, probably every day, that our body says some kind of no to. We have jobs to do, or children we’re responsible for, and long-term needs or goals that all necessitate our choosing to do things we’re uncomfortable with becuase the big picture outweighs a short-term aversion to doing something. 

Not only that, but many times when we perceive our body as saying no, it’s a fear reaction or some other threat-reaction based on past experiences that doesn’t apply to the current situation. If we say no to every experience and relationship that our body has some trepidations over, we will miss out on living the full life we want. 

The choice isn’t between staying in your absolute comfort zone, and toughing it out. There’s a third choice. That’s where the somatic awareness work of SE and Feldenkrais methods can really shift and open up people to new possibilities in their life. We can discover the power to be aware and present with the variety of responses we are having all at once. Your gut is saying no to that family get together, but what part of you is saying it needs to be done? What happens when you choose to follow one, but honor both? You find a strength that comes with self-acceptance — as it doesn’t necessitate the hardening of our feelings or the shrinking from what challenges us. 

Dan Rindler, GCFP, SEP