When you don’t follow your instincts and it comes back to haunt you, do you hear your inner critic saying: “You see, you should have listened to what I told you!”
In the 10th Anniversary Edition of my book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening that was published this past week in paperback, I’ve written a chapter on the importance of trusting your instincts in the creative process.
Sure, there are always lessons to be learned when you don’t listen in and come up with the short stick but what happens when you do listen to your inner voice and end up with results that aren’t what you wanted?
How do you deal with that? Do you let it erode your self confidence and trust? Do you kick yourself and say “Why didn’t I?”
Do you tell yourself that from this point onward, you’re going to follow the conventional route and play it safe so that you don’t get burnt?
If so, you’re missing the point of why following your instincts is a win/win situation– even when the results aren’t positive.
I’ll share a quick story with you about my littlest pup, Jacob Benjamin. This feisty 9 year old Australian terrier was diagnosed with a tumor this past spring. He was operated on, the tumor was removed, and within a matter of a few days the doctor not only told me (in an urgent tone) that the tumor was malignant but that Jacob MUST undergo chemotherapy.
As soon as someone says the phrases “you must” or “you should” to me, a red flag goes up. In this instance, although I was terribly scared, I heard my wise voice say, “Frannie, slow down. Don’t rush. Check it out.”
And so I did: I spent the next couple of weeks researching, discussing the situation with a few friends who are into alternative medicines, and consulted with a homeopathic vet.
Had I felt that the chemotherapy offered Jacob an opportunity to survive for a longer period of time with a quality of life, I might have gone for it. But there was absolutely nothing in the literature that offered any hope for survival with his type of tumor for longer than a year- even with chemo- except in extraordinary cases.
So I made the decision to feed him only a fresh diet of chicken, sweet potato, red peppers, carrots, apples, spirulina, and cumin, plus a few other plant substances.
I wish I could say that it was an easy decision but it wasn’t. I wrestled with the fact that every single doctor I spoke with recommended chemotherapy for him. Yet again and again, I heard my wise voice say “Don’t do that to Jacob. Let him live out his life with the joie de vivre that hs made him the unique, extraordinary dog that he is.”
To make a long story short, Jacob not only survived, he thrived for close to 6 months. I and everyone around him sent him intentions of ‘well-being’, rather than treating him as a patient. It wasn’t until the last week of his life that I knew the end for him, on this earth, was near. Last week, when I saw that he could find no comfort, I made the decision to put him down.
Any dog owner who is reading this story knows the tremendous pain of losing a four legged. It is not like losing a member of your family. It is literally losing a member of your family.
So, the bottom line is this: I listened to my instincts and didn’t get the results I wanted. Yet, I still strongly believe that there are hidden lessons in following my gut, regardless of the outcome. Here’s why:
5 Hidden Blessings In Following Your Instincts Regardless of the Results
1. You’re living your values. You’re staking your claim, making your voice heard, and saying ‘This is who I am and what I stand for.”
Whoever said that living your values would automatically give you a home run or even get you to first base every time you’re up to bat?
2. You feel empowered. You’re in charge, active, and alert because the decision you made, even when it’s a small one, is made by you. You’re not passively following a script written by someone else.
3. It enables you to live in the moment. When you do something with conviction, from a place deep within your heart, there’s a sense of ‘rightness’. It’s like two pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly. It just is. And when that happens, you’re free to enjoy the present, with few worries about the future.
4. There are no regrets. When you listen to your heart centered place, there’s a feeling of ‘I gave it my best shot’, whether it’s a new job you decided to take that didn’t work out, a relationship you went the extra mile for that turned sour, or a dog with cancer for whom you chose an alternative treatment that didn’t lengthen his life for a protracted period of time.
5. You strengthen your instinct muscles. Think about it. You spend your life making decisions. Each decision has an impact and a ripple effect on how you live. If you consciously and consistently practice using your instinct muscles, imagine the positive changes you can make in your life over a fairly short period of time.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. I would love to hear about a time when you trusted your instincts, with the results not being what you wanted, and how you handled it.
In celebration of the publication of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, I will give away 1 copy of the paperback edition to an individual whose response grabs my heart!
If anyone feels so inspired to review (on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog) this new and updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, I will be more than happy to send you a PDF or Kindle Copy. Just let me know on the comments section at the end of this post.
**If you enjoyed this article, you might like to check out another one I’ve written: 9 Tips On Trusting Your Instincts.
EXCITING NEWS- I’ll be in NYC at the Expressive Therapies Summit from November 6-9.
PLEASE JOIN ME and SIGN UP FOR MY WORKSHOP on Thursday, November 6th when I will be teaching an expressive, hands-on and intimate full day workshop (10-515pm) with my dear friend, colleague,therapist, and Voice Dialogue Coach extraordinaire, Bridgit Dengel, called:
Inner Voice Dialogue & Edible Container Gardens: A Hybrid for Sowing Resilience
Here’s the description of the workshop:
Horticulture is a primordial practice, and its teachings serve as a metaphor for life. Container gardening provides a unique way to reap its therapeutic benefits within the time and space constraints of urban living. In this all-day experiential Master Class, participants will explore how to incorporate Inner Voice Dialogue (IVD) with the process of tending a plant to promote mindfulness, self-care, and self-acceptance. As a nonverbal activity that immerses the senses, gardening is an effective intervention for a wide range of issues, including mood and eating disorders, addictions, and trauma. The workshop will guide participants through the specific requirements of building container gardens, as well as discuss how gardening, when combined with IVD, can nurture active self-exploration and introspection. From seedling to dinner plate, the plant’s life cycle can serve as a powerful symbol for personal growth and inner harmony.
For more information on the conference, please click on:
I’ve wanted to reach out to you since I first saw the news about Jacob last week but I felt paralyzed by the collective sadness felt by each of us who loves and loses a four-legged kid. My heart always breaks a little bit each time I read of such a loss. Your little Jacob, now an angel, must have brought you such joy.
Years ago, my pug-girl Fancie was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease, not uncommon for pugs. My vet gave me two options: keep her on a regiment of pain meds and muscle relaxers or visit a vet who specialized in Chinese herbs, acupuncture and massage, a much more expensive and time consuming route. I chose the latter and each time I watched Fancie relax under her care, I knew I had made the right decision. I’ll always be grateful to my main vet for his openmindedness about treating symptoms.
I love knowing Fancie, Jacob and all our other furry kids are cavorting on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge!
Beth- I love your story about Fancie (and i love the name). We dogowners are a lucky breed in knowing the gift of having these fourpaws cavorting around our homes. Thanks for reaching it out. It means a lot to me. Fran
I’m sorry for your loss. I’m happy that you followed your instincts and enjoyed the last months with Jacob Benjamin! xo
Thanks sweet Tess.
I agree with you Fran, when we trust our instincts we have no regrets, we know we have followed the best option, we can reassure ourselves that inner voice is the voice of our soul.
I know it is so agonising to lose a loving member of our family, I know words can never heal or assuage that pain but I would still say that your decision to save Jacob from the excruciating experience of chemo was a sane one. May God grant you the peace and serenity to live without your loving Jacob.
Balroop- Your words resonate deeply with me-as they always do. You know? I never thought of my decision as being sane- but how right you are. It indeed was! thank so much for your blessing- with gratitude-Fran
What a touching story. I’m happy your dog was able to thrive for as long as he did. Chemotherapy would have been so stressful for both of you.
I think it’s so important to trust our instincts. I need more practice with this so I appreciate the depth of your conviction.
Sandra Pawula- I think there are pockets of time when we’re meant to work on certain aspects of ourselves. It seems that right now, trusting my instincts is front and center. Yes- about chemotherapy. I am so glad I chose not to do it. Thanks for your kind words. Fran