I can’t remember when I exactly realised how much fear was dictating my life. It wasn’t a revelation as much as the result of patiently fitting tiny puzzle pieces of life together and guessing what the overall picture was. Either way, somehow about a year ago it became clear to me that most of my choices and life decisions were driven by fear. Fear explained why it took me about 4 months to plan a holiday, as well as several excel sheets with pros and cons for hotels and excursions. Fear was the reason I decided I didn’t want a serious relationship ever ever again. Fear was the reason I was always more comfortable baking cakes, where the instructions are detailed and clear and remove uncertainty, than free-style cooking with random ingredients.
Actually, the road to my slow epiphany was through ‘gut feel‘.
I’m on a lifelong quest to happiness. This manifests in me greedily reading every book on the topic and attempting every exercise statistically proven to increase happiness. Most of them are actually quite relaxing and come to me quite easily, such as dancing or practicing gratitude. But the one that I just couldn’t do, no matter how hard I tried, was trusting my instinct.
All the mindfulness books and happiness experts tell you to trust your instinct. They claim that somewhere, deep inside you, is a well of wisdom that somehow ‘knows’. Knows whether you should trust person A, take job B or decide what to eat on restaurant menu C. I tried listening to this inner voice. I tried while meditating. I tried while writing. I tried while getting tipsy. I expected the voice to speak clearly and give simple instructions, but I only heard silence. I concluded that I must be more shallow than average and not have an inner wise women after all.
But somehow, gradually, I noticed myself making rather ‘rash’ decisions. At first it felt like being disorganised and uncaring. Going on holidays in 2 weeks and still not having booked a hotel? Foolish! But I just told myself ‘what’s the worse that can happen?’ and went with the flow. And I had a GREAT time. Comforted by the fact that this new attitude was saving me a lot of the time I would normally have spent obsessing, I started applying the ‘what’s the worse that can happen?’ attitude to the rest of my life. More holidays without having prepared the schedule to the minute. New extracurricular activities. Sports, performing, bragging about myself at work. Before I knew it, I was swimming next to a whale shark.
I started to notice that shutting down my brain was basically the way to find my intuition. As opposed to thinking ‘I need to find my gut feeling‘, not thinking is the way to go.
Sure, I’ll never be the devil-may-care, sky-diving, not-knowing-where-the-next-pay-check-comes-from type of person. But I am no longer the stay-at-home, obsessively-plan-every-scenario, can’t-decide-anything-without-excel type of person either. And that is something my inner wise woman feels very good about.