Trust Your Gut!
by Jean Blackmer
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
As moms, we make a myriad of decisions each day, not only for ourselves, but also for our children. Some of our decisions may seem insignificant in the big picture, such as what socks to wear, what to pack our kids for lunch or what type of shampoo to purchase. Other decisions are more significant, such as whether to go back to work or not, what schooling option works best for our family or what activities we’re going to cut with the loss of a spouse’s job.
Not only do we make countless decisions, but we are also faced with endless options, and sometimes a clear-cut answer is not easily found. Most times there is not one right answer. So what’s a mama to do?
In researching decision making for my book, MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering, I came across a fascinating finding: emotions play a vital role in decision making. In his book, How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer tells the story of a man named Elliot who had a small brain tumor removed. Before the operation Elliot was a model father, husband, employee and volunteer at his church. But after the operation Elliot was unable to make decisions. Everyday decisions such as what type of toothpaste to purchase would cause Elliot to agonize for hours.
Elliot’s surgeon decided to investigate. After a series of tests, he found that Elliot’s operation left him devoid of emotion. This was an astounding discovery because it was believed decision making was a very rational process and human emotions were irrational. Because of Elliot’s case, the theory that a person without emotions would make better decisions was tossed out the window. Many brain scientists now believe that a person who doesn’t feel can’t make up his or her mind.
This is great news for moms. Sometimes we are the “feelers” of the family. Rather than discounting a woman’s emotional tendencies, this evidence validates the concept that feelings are an integral part of decision making. Listening to our God-given gift of feelings may actually help us make better decisions.
So, how do we tune in to these gut-level feelings?
Get physical. The physical responses of your body give you information. If making a certain decision causes your heart to race, your stomach to knot up or your breath to shorten, then this could be telling you that your decision is not right.
Unplug. Intentionally remove yourself from all electronic input including: Twitter feeds, Facebook messages, emails and voice mail messages. Sit and listen to your own thoughts. Give yourself time and space to reflect rather than being distracted by constant input from these electronic sources.
Don’t follow fear. Following your gut feelings is not fear-based. it should result in a confident sensation. Our feelings are worth listening to! Combining what we learn as we develop as moms with our feelings will help us make wise decisions and become the confident moms our children need.
So, next time you need to make a decision, don’t be afraid to trust your gut!
Jean Blackmer is the publishing manager for MOPS International and the author of MomSense: A Common-Sense Guide to Confident Mothering. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Zane and their three sons. Contact her at jblackmer@MOPS.org or twitter.com/jeanblackmer.