Prioritizing Heart and Gut over Mind by VDA Editor Drea Miesnieks

For so much of our lives, what we have learned is to listen to our minds. We are often taught to substitute our innate feelings and perceptions that resonate deep in our guts and minds for the rationale that lives in our minds. While the mind is an incredibly powerful tool, makes a huge part of who we are, how we function, it can also sometimes lead to more confusion.

I like to think back to when we are children. When we were young, clean slates, we didn’t have as many of society’s norms imprinted on our minds. We didn’t judge someone based on money, taste in clothes, etc. There weren’t rules that we completely understood yet. Instead, we knew whether we could trust someone based on our gut, based on our heart. We hadn’t learned what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what was bad just yet. This was soon to come. All of these lessons are essential and make us who we are, help us make daily decisions, help us surround ourselves with the people who support our growth and happiness.  These realizations are not negative ones.

However, in times of confusion, where I truly can’t figure out what I want, what the right decision is, where I should be, where I should go, (…just to name a few), I realize that I’m resorting to my headspace. When we completely look to our minds to make decisions and problem solve, we leave out an essential part of the process: our hearts. I have begun looking for that deep feeling in my gut. One of the best pieces of advice my mom gave me when growing up was to follow my gut. Intuition usually tells me a safe versus risky situation. Intuition usually guides me in telling me what the right decision is.

Sometimes this can be tricky. I may know in my gut or heart that something is not right, that I need to step back and re-evaluate. When I begin getting deeper into my thoughts, I find myself rationalizing why this may be right, why I may not need change, why it’s safer to stay rather than bail. Then my mind flips into a story…telling me I’m making a snap decision that is unfounded. But then…I turn to my gut, I turn to my heart and my core, and I realize that I’m feeling these feelings for a reason. These feelings aren’t going away, but are truly there, and even if I don’t have the words to explain them, nor the thoughts to back them up, I currently perceive them to be truths.

Especially in times of big transition, I find it’s extremely helpful to lean into that intuition, rather than trying to rationale through a situation. Our minds are amazing mechanisms that will search for the solution, weigh both sides, which are extremely helpful tools for decision making. For me, I know there are times where my brain doesn’t know what the right solution is, doesn’t know where the right turn is. That’s when I tune into my heart and gut, and guide from there, rather than from my mind. 

My mind tells me that I should be searching for a long-term career so that when I graduate in May I will be OK…that I will have followed what a college graduate is ‘supposed’ to do. When I start looking at jobs, something in me screams out NO! My heart, and body know that I need time to explore, to grow before rooting into something long-term, in many areas of my life. My gut tells me I need to travel, explore, be on my own, rather than taking a safer, easier, more provided for route that many of my peers are taking. 

I am practicing leaning in to my feelings, rather than my thoughts. I am working on going back to that clean slate, where so much of me was not determined based on the beliefs of society, what was taught to me and demonstrated to me. I’m working on returning to my core, refining my intuition.

Most of the time, when we feel we make clear-headed decisions, we feel this has to be from our minds. Let’s try and make decisions from our heart and core, what we know to FEEL right, rather than what we perceive as right.

Home-Play

  • When feeling lost and confused, try to meditate. Turn your attention to the feelings in your body rather than the temporary thoughts flowing through your mind.
  • Throughout the day, check in to see how your emotional body is feeling, rather than only the mental.
  • If you journal, write down your thoughts as you usually would. Then, tune into your emotions. Tune into your core, how you feel inside rather than what you THINK you should feel. Write these down. Compare the thoughts vs. the feelings and see what resonates more with you.
  • Spend more time with children! We can learn so much from their less-tainted view of the world, of people.