“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu
What is love other than to care for another more than you care for yourself? What is love other than to put another’s needs ahead of your own? What is love other than to love without expectation?Advertising
Love is not reciprocal. Love is selfless. It is giving through sacrifice, expecting nothing. You may have dreams, plans and expectations coming into a relationship, but as the old boxing quote says: “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.”
Instead of trying to force yourself into the fully-scripted roles of the perfect relationship, it’s advisable to let go of your expectations and dependence on your partner for affection and validation. Love that has no expectations cannot be betrayed. Betrayal is only possible when an exchange is expected.Advertising
So, for all that someone is, love them. Appreciate them for who they are rather than for how well they fit your pre-existing fantasies of how things should be. This way you’ll free your heart from any anger or frustration and begin to love unconditionally, even if it has to be love from afar.
When you love unconditionally without expecting anything, you’ll establish a special and rare relationship anchored on affection that is free and non-possessive. Your relationship will be pure and honest because you are not merely using another to satisfy general self-interested desires.Advertising
How often do we set the bar too high to reach and then use this as an excuse not to love completely? Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it right, “A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” Let everyone be completely who they are. Don’t try to control or change them. Just love them – as they are – right now.
View people through the lens of compassion and acceptance. And then let circumstances freely and naturally resolve themselves into the most perfect outcome for all involved. Chances are those you love without expectation will dazzle you when they in turn begin to see you in your truest light.Advertising
Here are little ways to love without expectation.
- Love yourself first—totally and unequivocally. Be okay with yourself. If you can do that, then the need for others disappears.
- Believe and have faith in the good intentions of that person you love. There is good in everyone.
- Accept that person just as they are. People are not ours to own or rearrange.
- Smile, laugh and spend more time with that person, exploring new and challenging activities together. It builds intimacy.
- Protect and defend him or her always, including protecting their sense of dignity as human beings.
- Be truthful and honest in your interaction with them. Stop playing them.
- Voice your love and affection to them openly. Whisper in their ear how beautiful they are each morning.
- Express your affection physically. A simple kiss on the cheek or light touch on the shoulder can bring healing.
- Respect and treat that person like a gentleman or lady—with courtesy and dignity.
- Don’t lie or cheat on them. Stay faithful to your relationship until the end.
- Don’t whine, nag or complain all the time. It vexes the spirit.
- Don’t criticize them all the time. Instead, encourage and support them whenever you can.
- Show more compassion. We all need a little understanding from others.
- Surprise them with deeds of kindness when they least expect it.
- Be there for them when they need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or someone to uplift their spirits.
- Don’t compare your relationship with what others’ have.
- Stay calm, collected and keep working on making your relationship better.
- Cultivate a thick skin in the relationship, knowing that challenges are an inevitable part of life.
- Forget your personal investment in that person or in the relationship. That way you won’t expect a return on investment.
- Don’t blackmail or manipulate them to do your bidding.
- Don’t keep unnecessary secrets from them. Secrets indicate that there is a lack of trust and authenticity in the relationship.
- Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and a view to understand where they are coming from.
- Speak up in defense of that person you love and the integrity of your relationship when confronted by others.
- Talk openly, face-to-face with that person about what’s bothering you.
- Stop focusing on that person’s flaws or things that upset you about them too much. It is not worth it.
- Sit, discuss and plan for the future together.
- Don’t shift blame and heap it on them, rather take responsibility for your own actions.
- Apologize for your mistakes, learn from them and make amends where appropriate.
- Forgive offenses committed and move on. Life is too short to hold on to grudges and be unhappy.
- Celebrate that person when they are in your life, and let them go when they leave. Don’t force anyone to stay.
If you can do these things and have no expectation for any particular outcome, it is a glorious sign of emotional maturity. You become a better person and take the reins in the relationship.
Last Updated on August 12, 2020
When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?
Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.
In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.
How to Listen to Your Gut
The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.
Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.
1. Tune Into Your Body
Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.
However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.
Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.
Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion.
2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision
Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.
There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain, which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel
Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.
As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.
This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.
4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off
As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.
Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!
5. Challenge Your Assumptions
When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.
In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.
A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”
6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!
There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.
Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.
Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.
Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..
We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.
The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.
We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.
7. Trust Yourself
It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.
Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.
If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.
The Bottom Line
The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!
Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.
More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut
- Should We Trust Our Gut Feeling When Making Decisions?
- How To Trust Your Intuition When You’re Making a Decision
Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com
|||^||Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing|
|||^||Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection|
|||^||Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust|