Don't Trust your Gut it's Full of Shit

Photo: Reta Boychuck

Photo: Reta Boychuck

You guys, self-sabbotage is a real thing! After my accident I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to paddle again. Paddling was such a foundational part of my identity and losing it would be truly devastating. Almost every part of my life was built around or a product of paddling. As a result, I needed to prove to myself that if paddling was taken away from me I would still be me and I would have other value to offer the world. So I went full steam ahead in my writing and creativity. And that has been wonderful, liberating, and eye-opening. But has caused me to neglect other things.

Now, with the first competition of the season just around the corner I found myself resisting it. I wasn't excited I was riddled with anxiety. I did not want to go and this was completely out of character.

You see, last season I felt like I was in my prime. I felt the strongest I ever had both physically and mentally. And just like that, within a split second, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. And there I was, starting from scratch AGAIN. At first, I thought my anxiety of going to Paddlefest was only because of some lingering PTSD, as this will be my first time going back to where it all happened. And while that may be a little true, there are two other major contributors to my anxiety....

1. Fear of these competitions being a harsh reminder of how far I am physically from where I was before the accident.
2. Fear of having it all taken away from me again. This is where the self-sabotage comes into play. I've been subconsciously detaching myself from that world. That way, if it is taken from me again it won't be as devastating. I never totally understood why people would run away from the thing they are most afraid of losing. You are, after all, creating the outcome you are trying to avoid aren’t you? And as someone who has often gone for what she wants without even considering the consequences of failure this concept just didn’t make sense. But now, I get it. The loss is much easier to swallow when there is an absence of personal investment.

Simply becoming aware of one’s fears automatically strips it of it’s power. It’s the first step needed to shift one’s perspective. With this realization and some coaxing from a good friend I was able to see all the positive about going to Paddlefest. My fear is still there but it’s not impairing my judgment.

I wrote this little haiku the other day,
”I was told to trust my gut
I trusted
But then I realized my gut was full of shit.”

It’s like my subconscious was trying to tell me something! I actually wrote it to be punny but now realize there was a lesson in there that I was about to learn. We always tell people to trust their “gut”, also know as the intuition. But I don’t think that’s always the most constructive approach to decision making. Our “gut” feeling can be one based on irrational fears, anxiety, spite, or biases. If I were to listen to my “gut” this week I wouldn’t be going to Paddlefest, because it didn’t “feel right”. Sometimes I think we use our intuition as a cop out to avoid doing things that scare us and to justify our actions. Especially living in a time where so many people are afraid of discomfort and being called out on their shit.

I believe self-awareness is the most useful tool in decision making. Taking the time to understand why we’re feeling the way we are instead of blindly following our intuition. Because sometimes our intuition is way off base! And if I followed my intuition all of the time I would be such a flake.