Making Friends with My Gut

Listening to my gut or my instincts and setting boundaries are two things I have never excelled at.

I will typically give people more chances than perhaps they deserve, and in the process allow myself to be walked all over. Their happiness and well-being are, after all paramount to my own.

There have been a few instances now over these last few weeks where I have been given opportunities to hone my skills with both of these practices.  It’s been challenging and has often times felt as though I was going against what seemed to come naturally to me: blind and often misguided trust.

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, I have recently jumped onto the job hunting band wagon in an effort to ease my way back into a semi-regular working routine.  I’ve felt ready too, and eager at the chance to learn a new skill and maybe meet some new people.

A couple of weeks back I met with a good friend for coffee, who recommended a job search site that I hadn’t been using.  After our date, I got home and registered on the site, and spent the better part of an hour looking at various teaching positions and sending off a handful of resumes and applications.  The next day the phone calls started.

I ended up accepting what I think will be a great fit of a job.  It involves elements of the work I have been doing over the last 6 months or so, but will also hopefully challenge me in new ways.  After accepting this position, I felt really positive and confident about my decision.  The hours are such where it will allow me to continue on with the private tutoring I have been building and developing over the last 2 months.  It isn’t too onerous a job, and I don’t think I’ll have to worry about threats from clients, or being afraid to walk home as I was with a previous job.  It will allow me the freedom to be flexible and creative with my lesson planning, while providing a solid bank of resources I can draw on and supplement with.

The day after accepting this position, the phone calls and emails continued.  It is now nearly two weeks after I spent that one afternoon, sending out a handful of resumes and much to my surprise I seem to have captured an almost %100 call-back rate.  While this has boosted my confidence for all of five minutes in helping me realize I really am employable, it has in turn created a lot of instances where I have second guessed my choice, and some intense doubt has crept in.

I wonder if I chose the right job, or if maybe through my choice, I will have passed up an opportunity that I should have chosen.  I start to weigh out logistics of salary and time, and availability.

It quickly starts then, to become quite overwhelming and as is my habit when experiencing overwhelm, I shut down.  This usually happens after an extended period of second guessing and option weighing.  Needless to say, by the time shut down happens, I am usually completely spent, emotionally and exhausted, mentally.

In spite of the shut down, I do remind myself periodically that I’ve made what I believe to be a good choice, and if it isn’t meant to be something else will come up.  This always happens.  The next something may not be what I planned, or what I was necessarily seeking, but it is never involves the end of the world or my physical implosion, as I often imagine will be the case.  Everything works out.

When I walked into the interview for the position that I accepted, I had a good gut feeling about it.  So, while in my moments of second guessing, or complete shut down, I will continue to remind myself of that gut feeling.  And that everything will be okay, regardless.

The boundary setting plays a role here too.  A few weeks back when I was only looking for minimum wage positions, I very quickly realized what my boundaries were and was able to act on them-something I haven’t been able to do in ages.  I ended up turning down a position that was far more disorganized than what I was willing to work with.  I stepped my game up in recognizing that a minimum wage paying, on-call, no guaranteed hours position was also something I was not prepared to take on.  The realizations sometimes came a bit later than my perfectionist brain would have preferred, but the point is that I acted on them.

I do have some work to do though on my flexibility with boundaries.  As I detailed in another post, I have learned now over these last 8 months that where I used to sit in one extreme, filled with quiet passivity and inaction, I have now shifted over to the other side of things, where I experience some rather intense feelings about things from time to time.  It is the same with my ability to set boundaries.  Whereas I was once incapable of setting them, I am now almost proactively setting them, which may sound great but doesn’t work in all situations.  It makes me a lot more cautious/selective than I used to be, and if it is possible even more stubborn in that I insist on sticking to my guns.

This stubbornness though proved to be fruitful more recently as I think it helped me dodge a bit of an unpleasant bullet.  I had plans to get together with someone for coffee.  When they got in touch with me the day before, and asked for a change in the time of our meeting, I turned it down, politely of course and suggested a reschedule.  I was met with a bit of an abrasive response, but as I still like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (aka more chances than they perhaps deserve) I brushed the curt response off, and carried on.  I stuck to my guns though-the newly suggested time would not work for me.  The me of 5 years ago would have switched my own plans in an instant in order to be as accommodating as humanly possible, but yesterday I wasn’t having it.

As the day wore on, I developed a bit of a feeling-an instinct-that maybe I didn’t really want to meet this individual.  There had been a few red flags that I actively passed off, but now those with the combination of the curt response I had earlier, I was beginning to think that I might want to avoid this meeting.

Listening to my gut then, I sent a message early this morning, cancelling the meeting and almost instantly had my gut instinct confirmed.  I won’t go into the details of the response I received, but suffice it to say I made the right call.

In establishing some boundaries (again perhaps stubbornly) I managed to open up a bit of a channel between what my gut was telling me and reality.

I’ve never been very good at that-listening to my gut, but also accepting people at face value.  I will often silence or ignore my instincts and, likewise, ignore the sometimes glaring red flags that are flying up left, right and centre about a situation or an individual.

It’s a strange dichotomy-how unwilling I am to trust myself and how willing I am to trust others who often times are undeserving of my trust.  I’ve been doing a bit of work on myself more intensely over these last several weeks, and while there have been a few revelations, I’m not entirely sure I have that one unpacked and understood yet.

In time.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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