“Always trust your instincts. They are messages from your soul.”
Wow! For me, that statement has the power of a tsunami.
Between my Bipolar Disorder, the emotional trauma that I experienced in a highly dysfunctional family, and the over-intellectualization that I used as one way to avoid the mental anguish and pain, my instincts were muted and stuffed in a pad-locked closet as far back as I can remember.
Or perhaps better stated, I wasn’t even conscious that I had them until I got older, deeper into the insane chapter of my life, and, eventually, into Recovery.
The (perhaps unintended) way in which I was raised was as a little robot “programmed” to achieve. If I feared something, I was forced to do it. If I struggled with something, I was drilled on it mercilessly until I could do it. And, if my human limitations prevented me from mastering something, I was mocked for it.
It was like growing up in a quasi boot camp environment where people-pleasing and performing were one’s raison d’être AND “justification” for existing.
I “graduated” from training with honors, getting my Eagle Scout award at the youngest possible age and graduating Valedictorian of my HS class of 323. I even made it through “fat” camp, as my weight went from a high of 212 to 155 in one school year.
Gaslighting, berating, verbal abuse, shaming and punishment to “motivate” were staples. While love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and patience were meted out in very small doses. And in a very conditional manner. Love had to be “earned” through perfection and achievement.
Not exactly an ideal incubator for mental or emotional health. Anxiety, depression, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, self-hatred, performance anxiety, ruminations, insomnia, deep feelings of inadequacy, and many more demons haunted me throughout my formative years.
I was too busy “performing” to get my essential emotional needs met in that sheltered but toxic environment to cultivate my instincts or to develop a connection with them.
But today, after 25 years of accruing experience, strength, and hope in Recovery, I am very focused both on my spiritual condition and on the messages my soul sends me via my instincts or “gut.”
And, slowly, one day at a time, I am learning to act on those messages. The results have been marvelous!