Inner voice of reason
I had been having horrible nightmares for weeks. Every night, like clockwork, these “dreams” have been invading my sleep in various scenarios, but with the same underlying theme. I knew the message, because my gut instinct had been speaking it to me for the better part of a year. Sometimes I listened and acted, but the gut and the heart aren’t always in synch, and I’d fall back into the same pattern. But this time my subconscious was screaming at me, making it impossible to ignore in my sleep what my inner voice had been telling me in my waking moments for far too long. I made the decision I could no longer avoid.
Only days after that, my copy of O, The Oprah magazine arrived in the mail. Usually I tuck it away until the weekend when I can dive into it, but one of the headlines jumped out at me: “When to Trust Your Gut.” I don’t believe in coincidences – I’m convinced this was a purposeful reminder that the inner voice is not a joke but a force to be reckoned with. In fact, this article had a scientific explanation for it. Our brain learns to recognize and organize patterns and stores it as information in our long-term memory that surfaces as a glimpse of the so-called “big picture” when we recognize some form of familiarity. In essence, following your gut instinct or intuition doesn’t necessarily deliver an immediate answer, rather it can help guide you to whatever decision it is you’re trying to make.
My friends, close and not so close, had been trying to steer me toward this decision for months on end. Even family members raised red flags. But it was my children who cemented it for me when, after confiding in them about it, my daughter said, “Well, duh. I could’ve told you that a long time ago!” Gotta love teenagers. Even my son, in his 8-year-old words, echoed the same sentiment. It seems everyone heard my inner voice but me.
I wish I could tell you the bad dreams have stopped. They haven’t. But they are less frequent. I suppose I’m now in that phase where I’m questioning why I didn’t listen to my inner voice more closely and, perhaps subconsciously, I’m still looking for the answer. I consider myself a smart, strong woman and the situation I was in was so obviously wrong, had I listened to my instincts, I more than likely would have saved myself many months of unnecessary drama.
Lessoned learned: Don’t wait for your inner voice to scream before paying attention. Even the slightest bit of doubt is reason to pause and question what that voice might be saying.
Catherine Anaya anchors CBS 5 News weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 10 p.m. She is the mother of two, a marathon runner and motivational speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.