When it comes to relationships, no one can make decisions for you.
You’re the only one who knows what’s in your heart.
But there’s a problem with listening to your heart.
Your head doesn’t always agree.
In fact, they often tell you two separate things.
“Go ahead, text him and tell him what a great time you had!”
“No! Don’t do that. He’ll think you’re too eager.”
“But he seems like such a nice guy. And it’s just a friendly text.”
“You’re just going to shoot yourself in the foot, I’m telling you.”
Your head is the voice of reason. It believes in following rules. It warns you against acting impulsively. And it doesn’t trust your heart.
After all, hasn’t your heart led you astray before? Follow your heart, and look where you end up. You make better decisions when you think things through carefully … or do you?
Way too confusing.
That’s why I want to suggest an alternative way of making relationship decisions.
It involves listening to your second brain:
The brain in your gut.
Also known as the enteric nervous system, the 100 million neurons in your gut don’t just help digest the food you eat. They also affect your mood.
Ever felt sick to your stomach or got butterflies in your stomach? Then you’ve experienced the mind-gut connection.
Research into the fascinating world of the thinking gut is still in its infancy. But common sense urges us to trust our gut instincts. Because our gut is responding to a vast reservoir of subconscious processing.
Your conscious thoughts are like the tiny bit of an iceburg that sticks up above the water’s surface. 90% of your thought process is going on below the level of conscious awareness. But your gut is like an antenna. It picks up on all that subconscious processing.
It can be hard to tease out what your gut is saying when your heart is urging you to love freely and your head is warning you to hold back.
So here’s a trick I sometimes recommend.
Get clear on the question you’re asking. For example, are you wondering if you should go out with him again?
First, imagine what would happen if you said yes. Paint a clear picture in your head of what that would entail. Imagine yourself making arrangements to meet up, getting ready for the date, and waiting for him to arrive.
Then do this.
Breathe deeply so your stomach expands out as you inhale. In … out. In … out. As you feel into your gut, notice which sensation you feel more strongly: a sense of expansion or a sense of contraction.
If you feel a sense of expansiveness and space, then that’s a thumbs up. If you feel a sense of tightness or tension, it’s thumbs down.
Now do this exercise one more time. This time, imagine what would happen if you said no. Paint a clear picture in your head of what that would feel like. Then breathe into your gut. Are you getting the same answer?
Here’s another reason to trust those gut instincts.
The brain in your gut is heavily involved in your immune response, and your immune system has a stake in whether you pick the right guy.
From your immune system’s standpoint, the “right guy” is someone with a compatible genetic profile, giving you the best chance of having healthy children.
Since neither your head nor your heart can spot a compatible genetic profile, nature has made it easy for you. A compatible guy will smell good to you, and you’ll enjoy kissing him.
The reason kissing him is so revealing is, well, kind of gross.
According to the author of The Germ Code, Jason Tetro, “when we kiss deeply, some 80 million bacteria are transferred.” Your immune system reacts to those bacteria instantly, letting you know whether this guy is a match or not.
But if you’re not used to listening to your gut, you might try to override that information. Your head might try to convince you that you should give him a second chance, because he’s such a good catch. Your heart might try to tell you that you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to be with someone who clearly adores you.
Or your gut?
Here’s what I think.
If your gut says no, pay attention. It’s often picking up on things you can’t consciously perceive.
If your gut says yes, then proceed with caution. Weigh in the information you’re getting from your head and your heart.
Ultimately, you want every ounce of your being on the same page. You want to feel a great big YES when you think about this guy.
That’s the kind of love worth waiting for.