Gut Feelings–Our Inner Compass.

by on August 29, 2010

Monday, I had a dental appointment to have a root canal.  This was my first visit to this dentist, but since almost all of my dental experiences have been positive, I expected the best. Walking into the office, a sign greeted me that read, “Turn off Cell Phones. No Food or Drinks.” The receptionist did not greet me.  She barely met my eyes as she handed me a clipboard with a stack of forms to fill out, along with brisk instructions.  I filled out my forms, and the dental hygienist called me back to the dental examination room.

Since I was not greeted, but directed, to the dental chair, I can only assume it was a dental hygienist who proceeded to take x-rays of tooth #3. When she could not take a clear x-ray on her third try, she called in a person in blue scrubs, who – again – did not introduced herself.   I was beginning to wonder if they were pulling them in from the bus stop outside the office.

Moving on to x-ray number four, I expressed concern at the amount of trouble they were having x-raying my tooth.  The girl in blue scrubs flippantly rolled her eyes and said, “X-rays are important.”  Taking a deep breath, I considered the time out of my day I had scheduled for the appointment, the time I had spent driving and finding the dental office. I was primed for a root canal. I admonished myself to be patient. Myself said to me, “This feels all wrong.”

So I stood up and said, “I am not having a root canal. This is not the right place for me.” As I unclipped my bib, the bib clips got caught in my hair.  My exit was less than graceful as I painfully ripped the clips out of my hair and lunged for my purse, moving briskly for the door as my cell phone loudly rang circus music. Suffice it to say that my exit was not as smooth as I might have hoped for.

When I posted my experience on Facebook, Nancy promptly brought forth a new dental recommendation. An appointment was made for the next day. The office was friendly, everyone introduced themselves, the x-ray took one try, and Dr. Fitzgerald was professional and charming. He even checked up on me later in the day. My root canal started off rocky, but ended well.

The evening of my root canal, I had a class meeting. I dreaded the meeting much more than the root canal. The subject was child molestation.

The good news we learned at the meeting was, although we can’t always keep our children from danger, we can empower them to know when to step back and walk away. The psychologist facilitating our meeting voiced something I think every parent should write on their bathroom mirror. The point is not to hunt down child molesters, or teach children not to talk to strangers, or lecture about designated drivers, but to empower our children to listen to and trust their gut feelings – their intuition. The point is to validate them when they say something feels right or feels wrong, even when our experience of the situation is different. Say no to a ride from your parent’s friend if it doesn’t feel right.  Say yes to walking home a different way if your gut tells you to change course.

The root canal, the meeting, and the advice of the psychologist all reminded me to ask Cole first, “What were you feeling?” and second, “What were you thinking?”

Protecting our children, as they race forward at break-neck speeds is an ever growing challenge. We can, however, encourage them to trust their gut to guide them away from being a victim and towards strong, healthy choices. We empower or children by showing them how we  trust, pay attention, and perhaps walk away when our own guts says “this just feels all wrong.”

Glad you were in my Odd neighborhood. Feel free to hang around with us any time. Odd Loves Company and odd loves you and you and you!! I would love to hear how your gut feeling have guided you in the comment section of this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter!

Katybeth

{ 17 comments }

julia

Hi KB –
This is really good. When I saw something on trusting my gut — I trusted my gut and read it. I will be leaving Chicago to move to Wisconsin in one week. I still have strong “what the hell am I doing” feelings, but my gut tells me this is what I need to do, and I do feel it is right more than not.
You are an excellent writer!
Thanks!

Katybeth Jensen

Good Luck Julia! Change, in my opinion is always terrifying and of-course the minute you decide to move, where you are looks more perfect…but by validating the feeling inside you that say’s go…I’m certain you can count on support and additional counsel along the way. Keeps us posted!

Katybeth

Mimi Gordon

The little voice in my head..I argue with it way to often. I want to be nice, not cause waves….so I end up not listening and later having regrets.
Honestly, I have never really thought about how to foster this gut feeling in my children, maybe that is because I am so bad at it. On the other hand, at times I am at a loss about how to protect them. Thanks for sharing this, Katybeth…perhaps, it will help bring me peace of mind.

Katybeth Jensen

There is an old joke that says the same voice is your head that tells you to “jump off the bridge.” is the same voice that says on the way down “wow that was really stupid.” Sounds like you are cautious about about the feelings that come from inside, you don’t jump easily. It also sounds like you are considering trusting your gut a little more often…I bet peace of mind is right around the corner!

Mary

Wow! This is a timely post. My head is telling me No No No but my gut was telling me Yes. I am stuck in maybe. I want to go for it, I really do but what if….
Is this why I’m so off charts worried about my children all the time because I can’t trust my own gut? If I could trust my own gut more would I be able to let my children make more of their own choices?

Katybeth Jensen

Go for it! “Maybe” is an awful place to be stuck. If it doesn’t work out, just listen again and change directions. That sounds right on about your children.

Good Luck, Thanks for stopping by Odd.

Lee Ann

Hi KB…and Julie!

I too, have always used my gut as a compass to help guide me. It takes practice. For a long time, I didn’t feel my instincts were enough. It took awhile to believe in myself and trust what I was feeling. I have rarely been sorry with a decision. Even in retrospect – if something went amiss, my initial decision was always right, even if the outcome was not what I had thought.

Julie, I am moving from Northwest Indiana (home for 45 years) to Seattle. My gut, my head, my heart, my whole being – is telling me this is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I need to go for it. So I am! I can’t wait! Good luck to you!

Thanks, KB.

Katybeth Jensen

Thanks for a great comment, Lee Ann. It so exciting about your move! Great point about it taking practice to trust to your gut feeling and to take action.

Glad you were in our Odd neighborhood! 😀

Beverley

I think the older I get the more I trust my gut. Sometimes its hard to separate out the fear. I have tried to foster this in my children. Sometimes its easier to foster it around thing like “mom, than person gives me a creeps” than “mom, I’m warm enough” 😀 . But it usually starts at the coat level.

Thanks for a great post.

Katybeth Jensen

Beverley,
I’m laughing about your coat reference. I’m sure most parents can relate. Its easier to let you kids gut decide what college is right for them..than if they need a coat or not!
Thanks for dropping by Odd.

Nancy Gaynor Leahy

My inner compass works for my children but I often shut it down for myself. When my daughter was going into high school we had to decide to remain at the Evangelical school, go to the Catholic coed school or boarding school in Lake Forest. She was an exemplory student and ultimately it was her choice. We paid, but she knew after one day of shadowing what was best. My son was given the esame choices. Neither child did what suited my comfort zone. I allowed them the freedom to choose. Shadow days are designed for this very thing. All parents make mistakes but I would say the best choice I ever made was to follow my instinct and let the student choose where they would thrive best. I knew they were smart enough to know what was best. It is a very unselfish because especially with my first born I wanted her close but she wanted the change. I know she would not be the strong woman she is today if I went with my choice. She may have been 14 but she was a wise 14 after all she is my kid !

Katybeth Jensen

“after all she is my kid…” she got the courage to follow her own gut feeling from someone….maybe you can talk to her about how to listen to your own little voice more. Like Lee Ann says it take practice..and i don’t think any of prefect it.

Always nice to see you on Odd, Nancy!

Teresa

I think I trust my gut instincts a lot (at least now). The examples that come to mind first, always involve my daughter. Steering her from the wrong kind of friends early on even though I hardly knew them. Closely monitoring her internet use even though all my friends told me I was invading her privacy. My “gut” kicked in big time when I became a mother. I was more of a pushover when it came to my own personal experiences. Perhaps, I learned from them. 🙂

Katybeth Jensen

Its so hard to give up “nice” and walk when it doesn’t feel right. Our gut is sometimes pretty rude and abrupt. Even the word “gut” does not sound very feminine and nice. I bet your gut instincts just keep getting stronger and stronger!

Nancy Gaynor Leahy

I was five months pregnant with Thomas it was a Friday night and we were entertaining two couples at Mortons steak house for dinner. I went to the restroom and suddenly I was hemorrhaging large amounts of blood. Swiftly I was brought to Prentice Womens Hospital. Upon examination a huge Doctor the size of Michael Jordan examined me and said ” you’ve miscarried” and you will need a D & C ( which basically is an abortion). This Dr’s name was Dr. Oz. His size and voice were very strong and he insisted they prepare me for surgery. Jim left the room overwhelmed with emotions. I took a few deep breaths and said to myself this guy is full of shit ! I had misacarried so many times and I knew this felt different. This doctor was so adamant and raised his voice at me. I pulled out the I.V’s put on my bloody clothes and began to walk out the door. Jim walked in and said ” WTH” Nancy? I said get the car ! He ordered me to get into the bed. I then took my sweet husband by the neck of his shirt and said with a rage you may never know. Get the F’n car or I will kill you! He got the message and took me home. For two days that hospital called my husband to bring me back scaring him and telling him that I had a dead baby inside of me. But I didn’t listen and would not listen! I prayed through the night with various prayer groups. Actually two nights. Jim was convinced I was insane. I agreed to see my OBGYN on Monday morning and he gave me an ultra sound. It showed my son staring at me with all four limbs moving wildly like an Everready battery. I called Dr. Oz and told him off and said ” remember something Dr. Oz you are a doctor and not God ” ! You could use a large dose of humility ! My son was born perfectly 7lbs 11 ozs. The bleeding was basically a nose bleed from the many scars from the previous implanted embryos that did die. I rarely believe a doctor about anything to this day. Thanks Katy beth because sometimes as time passes we forget the many miracles bestowed on us from the Almighty. This post reminds me to never underestimate the power of a mighty God !

Katybeth Jensen

Wow, Nancy. Your son, is the most amazing example of the importance of following your own inner guidance system and not someone else’s!

Jayne

I heard about a book called ‘The Gift Of Fear’ a few years back on just this subject. Listening to our inner voice is just so important. When I can forget my need to be polite …and liked by everyone…I’m fortunately pretty intuitive. I certainly get feelings about people, usually within the first half hour of meeting them, and don’t think I’ve ever been wrong.

There was an occasion when I was away at college and my friend and I were out at a nightclub. She was the sweet girl from the big city (whose home environment should therefore have taught her some street smarts) and I was the (quiet, shy and very polite) girl from the boondocks. I was gobsmacked when she accepted a lift home from a guy whom I took an instant dislike to and she just wouldn’t listen to reason. So I gatecrashed the lift. He sped off and when we reached the turning for our road zoomed right on by – heading at speed out of Oxford towards the direction of the airbase at Kidlington. I immediately turned into a banshee, shouting that if he didn’t stop the f*i@g car NOW I’d scream my f*i$g head off. It worked. We got home safely. Obviously nothing happened so I can’t be sure but I do believe that my instinct saved my friend from something quite awful that night.

I’ve always told my girls to assess things for themselves when it comes to people and safety and if they are even slightly uncomfortable with a person or situation then they must do what *they* think is right, even if it means differing from all their friends.

That Einstein chappie was a clever bunny, wasn’t he? 🙂
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