As a female, I strongly believe in the power of female intuition and trusting my instincts. Prior to becoming a social worker/therapist and prior to my transition into adulthood, I was very bad at reading people’s behaviors and seeing clear signs of issues in my relationships. Overtime with a lot of practice, both positive and negative, I started to learn about this notion of “gut feelings”.
In wanting to explain accurately what exactly I am referring to when I use the term gut feelings, I naturally went to my most credible sources, The American Psychological Association and Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines a gut feeling as, “An instinct or intuition; an immediate or basic feeling or reaction without a logical rationale.” So what I thought was just an expression or a lucky guess, in fact, was researched by Dr. Siri Carpenter who found that there is actual medical evidence linking the “brain in your gut” to exerting powerful influence over the one in your head. So with this research, it validates the feelings that I personally have every time my body reacts uncomfortably to a situation sparking this idea in my mind that something just is not right.
For those of us who are big over analyzers and self doubters, we become very skilled in the art of talking ourselves out of our initial instinctual reactions, and pathologizing different behaviors or situations to convince ourselves that what we feel is not an accurate measurement of judgement.
From a personal example. one of my first experiences was a few years ago during a long term relationship where I was able to notice that I had a clear immediate reaction to a situation and a feeling in my gut that something was not sitting well with me. The things that my boyfriend was telling me at the time in conjunction with how he was telling me and my personal observations of his body language and movements, I felt as though things did not align and I needed to address them. When I finally worked up the courage to stand up for myself and confront my boyfriend about the discrepancies that I was noticing, he became instantly irate storming out of the house stating that I was crazy and making up stories in my head. He also continued to tell me that the things I chose to focus on were so unimportant in the grand scheme of our relationship and that I dwell on issues that are completely trivial.
After my boyfriend left the house, I sat alone with my thoughts trying to replay situations in my mind and examine everything he or I said and did. As I recalled all of the different events in that interaction and just how upset he became over my accusations, I started to feel like I truly was being dramatic, or over reacting or making things up. I shortly thereafter called my boyfriend to apologize for my words and for making assumptions and hoped that he could forgive me. He continued to make me feel bad about the situation and relaying to me that he would need time to get over the terrible things that I had thought about him.
As the typical female in relationship desperation, I decided to just confirm that this in fact was my imagination and if so, despite causing turmoil in my relationship, I would still feel much better if I was wrong about the issue instead of being proven right about some pretty hurtful transgressions. I did a little online “research” (how did people every live without Google?!)
Low and behold, with my super, girl on a mission, FBI ways, I found exactly what I was looking for and in fact, the things that I had initially suspected about my boyfriend were unfortunately correct. At this point I was completely overwhelmed by all of the different things I was feeling. I was feeling so hurt and sick about what I had just confirmed, yet I simultaneously was feeling relieved and vindicated that I wasn’t a crazy, over reacting, fictional story teller. I wasn’t sure which one made me feel worse; the fact that my trust was broken or the fact that someone manipulated me by playing up on my insecurities and self doubt.