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8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

8 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Settling

Before you pop the question or put the champagne on ice to celebrate whatever form of partnership you have chosen, do me a favor, will you? Read the 8 questions you need to ask yourself before settling. Take your time and think abut them. These will be the foundation stones for your time together. Who wants to live “unhappily ever after?” With marriage rates in the USA at an all time low and divorce rates rocketing, these questions must be asked.

1. How well do you know your partner?

And what does your partner know about you?  Well, you are a wonderful person, for a start! But let us probe deeper and discover whether you are a balanced person and if you are prepared to try and change some defects or not. Ask yourself the following:

  • How you deal with mood swings and whether you are often moody.
  • If you are prepared to love and cherish your partner.
  • If you empathetic or not.
  • If you are aware of any defects, how do you think they might affect the relationship and if you are prepared to talk about them.

You should feel at ease exchanging views on how you both want to be better people and how this could impact the relationship.

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2. How often do you argue?

Think of the last argument you had with your partner. Maybe it did not solve anything or maybe you ended up at loggerheads. Maybe the fallout was pretty toxic in that there was a lot of resentment and hurtful remarks which lingered in the air afterwards. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may well have to think whether you are both compatible. Look at arguments in the following way. They are perfectly normal in any relationship, but they should always be managed so that they provide a negotiated decision or resolve a problem to both partners’ satisfaction.

“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” —Robert Quillen

3. What are your views on your careers?

“A career is wonderful but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” —Marilyn Monroe

Is there any risk that one of you might become a workaholic? At the other end of the spectrum, you have to look at a boring job which gives you neither satisfaction nor any prospect of a career. You have to think about whether your job is going to become the elephant in the room. You both need to be able to maintain a decent work-life balance if any relationship is going to stay the course. Talk about your plans and how these could:

  • Help you both with financial rewards and security.
  • Impact negatively on spending time together.
  • Lead to stress or worry.
  • Affect your children and their upbringing, if you decide to have a family.

4. What is your view of your partner’s limitations?

You need to think about this carefully. There may be problems with untidiness, distraction, forgetfulness and unpunctuality, just to name a few. The perfect partner does not exist and we will never know whether Cinderella and her Prince Charming split up! Now here is the question. If one partner tries to reform or convert the other, then problems will begin to bubble up to the surface. The key is being aware of these problems and attempting to change yourself first, rather than your nearest and dearest. Look at the give and take in your relationship and see whether it has been fairly balanced up to now.

5. Are you really happy with each other?

Many people have leaped into a marriage or partnership because of the fear of being alone or because of unbearable peer and family pressure. Sad, but true. But women are delaying marriage according to the Bowling Green State University. Think of it like this. Do not believe that things will change and that you will be able to adapt, if you do not feel 98% of the time happy, relaxed and satisfied now.

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6. How reliable are you?

In every sphere of life, reliability is the one quality that makes or breaks a relationship. You both need to know that you can depend on each other 100%. Reflect on how you have delivered on your promises up until now.  There will be times when you have to care for a loved one who is ill or deal with difficult children. There will be the day-to-day chores where each partner will have to deliver so that the home runs smoothly.  Give yourself a score on your own reliability and assess your partner too.

7. Do you share the same values?

One of the reasons you were attracted to each other was that you have similar views on lots of things, such as politics, cooking, gun control, equal human rights, and religion. There may be things that you disagree amicably about, but in general, your world view is pretty much in sync. But, if you argue a lot about politics or ethical values such as birth control or abortion, it may be time to reflect on how these could start to erode your relationship. There could be problems about having children if you have very different views on family planning, for example. Think of various scenarios such as “what if…” and ask your partner how she or he would react to these.

8. Do you want to have a family?

This is a key question. I once knew a couple where the wife deliberately sought to get pregnant in spite of her husband’s expressed desire to have no children. They ended up with three sons! Needless to say, the marriage floundered and ended most unhappily. Discuss your ideas about children and more importantly how to bring them up. Your own childhood will have an enormous influence on how you approach this. If it was an unhappy one, there will be a challenge to make sure that the same mistakes are not made. We often parent like our own parents did.

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“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” —George Bernard Shaw

Have you any other questions that you think are important? Let us know in the comments    

Featured photo credit: Divorce books/farm8 via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

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.

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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[1].

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[2], 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.

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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.

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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[3]. 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.

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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

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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