I Didn’t Find God: I Found My Gut
The minute that you immerse yourself in the online world of self-help: signing up for websites, following Instagrammers, reading blogs and listening to podcasts, you’ll be bombarded by different advice, inspirational quotes, snappy sound bites and opinions from every corner of the earth. Some of it will stick, but lots of it will wash over you, in one ear and out the other: well meaning, but forgotten instantly.
I have been both the recipient of this information overload and also a contributor of it, in that Soberistas and The Rest Is History are online resources and thus built almost entirely of online content.
But if I can impart any advice whatsoever to help you locate peace of mind (and this is the thing that almost everyone I communicate with online is searching for), it would be based solely on these two things:
a) Locate your gut’s voice and listen to it - at all costs
b) Start to look at your life LESS as a complete entity, and more of a meandering path with highs and lows, numerous routes, yet-to-be-opened doors and no sense of permanency
I am not a scientist but I do read a lot about physical and mental wellbeing, and one thing I have learnt over recent months is that our gut is like a second brain. It has a voice. It speaks to us. I have also learnt over the years that the emotional component of the brain in our noggin should not be considered the oracle, the speaker of all things wise and correct. Actually, much of the time, it should be ignored and told to shut the hell up.
Here are a couple of examples.
In all the relationships that have gone wrong for me over the years, I have known, deep down, from very early on, that they were not going to work out. I could feel it, sense it, was aware in the pit of my stomach of a little voice crying out, straining to be heard – it won’t work! Leave it alone! Be on your own! But I ignored that voice and listened instead to the one in my head, the one that said, “You can make it work”, “Better this than being alone”, “Look at how nice he is! You might not find anyone else as nice if you jack this one in”. I followed the voice in my head until it sent me stark-raving nuts and I ended up finishing the relationship anyway amongst floods of tears, heartache and agonising regrets.
A second example: booze. For years, my gut told me that alcohol was not my friend. Every single time I got pissed, my gut told me that I would never learn to moderate, I would never get on the right side of my relationship with booze, I would always be on the back foot. I ignored that voice in my gut and instead listened to the one in my head, the one that said, “You are a party animal, not a drunk!” and “Everyone loves to get drunk, there’s nothing wrong with you” and “If you can’t let your hair down, what is life all about?”. Eventually, that voice in my head got me so drunk I ended up in hospital and nearly croaked.
Admittedly, hearing the voice in my gut did not happen instantaneously the moment I stopped drinking. The things that have helped me discover it and hear it so loudly I could never ignore it again, are meditation, running and yoga. Never a believer of the ‘woo-woo’ hippy-dippy stuff, it took me rather a long time to investigate these things with an open mind, and to not just ‘do them’ but to lose myself in them and completely trust the process. The result has been that I am now able to listen to a very clear voice that emanates from my gut, and, simultaneously, have been able to find the strength of mind to shut my head up when it is talking nonsense at me.
The second thing I would like to tell you about in this blog is the notion of life as a meandering path, not a complete entity of which the ending is set in stone. If you are currently embarking on a challenging chapter in your life do not regard it as, ‘This is it, forever’. Perceive it instead as, right now, just for the foreseeable future “I am going to have a bash at this. And I will see where it takes me”. This sounds so simplistic but it’s crucial to wrap your head around if you want to make things easier for yourself during the tough times. As soon as you tell yourself that this is how things are going to be for the REST OF YOUR DAYS, you’ll go into full on panic mode. We can’t comprehend that kind of limitless pain and struggle. It overwhelms us.
Frame it like this instead – life is long, it contains a multitude of wild possibilities and different paths for me to choose from. Right now, I’m having a go at ‘this way’ (insert your particular rough patch) and I’ll just see how it goes. This could relate to a period of singledom, or not drinking, or a change in career, or deciding to move locations. The essential thing to remember in any of these situations is, you are not signing up for a commitment for life – it’s not a legally binding contract that means you can’t change back in a few months. You’re just doing it FOR NOW.
Try reframing your mind set in these two ways, and see how much of a difference it makes to you.