What is your gut telling you? No, seriously, for real?
Now, you may be asking yourself what exactly I’m talking about… Digestion? Feelings?
Actually, a little bit of both!
We live in an increasingly noisy world. A world in which everybody professes their opinion, whether it’s about the foods you choose to ingest, or the way you choose to lead your life. While there is some stellar advice available out there, most of it is still just noise, and it can be rather detrimental.
Without any quiet, we forget to listen to our gut. And when we don’t listen to it on a regular basis, we forget what it is to trust ourselves.
THE CASE OF FOOD
While we can literally talk about our gut in the case of food, it also provides us with a great illustration of this concept at large. With so many “experts” — qualified or not — shouting from the rooftops about everything from “superfoods” to “revolutionary” diets, it’s unsurprising that we can get confused.
Should we eat wheat? Should we avoid it? How about antioxidants? Does that mean we’re supposed to drink wine? Wait, aren’t we supposed to abstain? What about sugar? Are carbs bad? What’s enough protein? Is that too much protein? Avocados are good, right? What do you mean they’re mostly fat?
While our gears are spinning with these unending question, we keep forgetting to tap into our primary source of wisdom: ourselves.
How do we feel when we eat certain foods? Energetic? Sated? Tired? Bloated?
By paying attention to what goes on in our body — and remembering that we are the most qualified expert when it comes to how our body feels — we can often find the answers we seek. It doesn’t matter that a food is touted as miraculous by the newest internet sensation: if we don’t like it, or if it doesn’t make us feel good after eating it, it’s probably not right for us!
Granted, it can feel confusing at first, especially if we haven’t been paying attention to this relationship between what we eat and how we feel. The good thing is that starting is pretty easy! Check in with yourself: how do you feel twenty minutes after finishing your meal? How about a couple of hours after? How do you feel in the morning, after fasting through the night?
Every piece of input you can garner will help you better be in touch with your gut!
FEELING AND HUNCHES AND INTUITION, OH MY!
As much as there are throngs of people telling us how we should feed ourselves, there are just as many telling us how we should feel, and how we should lead our life accordingly.
Amidst all the noise, we tend to develop a never-ending list of shoulds, never pausing to ask if they’re right for us, and at the same time ignore some of our more powerful yearnings, simply because they haven’t made that agreed-upon list. We listen to all the voices out there, forgetting to zero in on the most important one.
When we’ve spent years operating this way — and for many of us, this means most of our adult life — coming back to a place where we’re able to not only hear but listen to that inner voice of ours takes some work. Worthwhile work it is, but it can be scary.
After all, if we’ve shut out our intuition, when do we know how it’s back?
It implies getting back in touch with how we truly feel, not just emotionally but physically too, and reconciling the two.
One of the simplest ways to reconnect this is by taking a moment to purposefully notice and lean into all the sensations that are twirling around in there, and that most of us try so adamantly to repress, by systematically distracting ourselves with technology, gossip, food, alcohol, overflowing schedules, etc.
Try this for a few weeks: in every situation that your day brings about, take a minute to check in with yourself:
- Can you name the emotion that you’re experiencing right now? (Try to be more specific than “feeling good” or “feeling bad” — emotions are complex and you may be feeling more than one at once.)
- What do you feel in your body while you’re experiencing this emotion? (You may need to do a body-part-by-body-part check, that’s fine.)
The beauty of this process is that is works from both ends of the spectrum: acknowledging emotion can help us make sense of what’s going on in our body. And when we become reacquainted with the way emotion manifests in our body, we can work backwards and use physical manifestations to better understand jumbled emotions!
This heightened sense of clarity is a powerful tool that we can then use in every aspect of our life: at work, in our personal relationships, or simply in terms of better managing our energy.
So, do you trust your gut?