(pic by ashleyg – go buy at Etsy)
I’ve been told many times that I over-think things. This was never more evident than a night recently where I ended up at a party where the host had turned his entire back yard into what amounted to a giant graffitti playground – the entire back gable wall was covered in improvised art. The host handed me paint cans and told me knock myself out. Faced with such a vast canvas, such an unlimited creative scope, I froze. For at least 20 mins, I had no idea what to do – no idea how to proceed.
That moment’s stuck with me for a few reasons. I recognized and was aware of feeling this way many times before, that feeling of paralysis and paranoia – the fear of not doing it “right”. I’ve for many years felt that “it’s not about doing it right, it’s about doing it” but it would seem that even that simple realization is easy to state while not easy to internalize and truly believe.
I suppose the instinct I’m talking about here can only come with a certain level of maturity – at the end of the day, you must have experiences of the world in order to hone any instincts upon which you intend to rely.
But for a variety of other reasons – my upbringing, early experiences, societal and spiritual routine – the use and trust of my instincts has been neglected, and neglected in favour of careful consideration – based on a fear of “getting it wrong”. Thought and consideration are important, no doubt – but I have a feeling that a lot of people’s upbringings were based on “not getting it wrong”, so much so that the balance of thougth & instinct is way off. I know it is for me. And I think it’s time to redress that balance.
To me, acting on instinct is a challenge to act without fear.
Instinct insists that we act on the idea that “feels the most right”. It is a tool not for use in a black & white world, but in a world full of decisions that are a rainbow-grey. Acting with instinct does not allow for calm balances of judgement, of careful consideration of which answer is “the right” one.
Instinct is described as “natural or intuitive way of acting”. Instinct is self-trust. Instinct is self-compassion in action. Instinct is a gut check, an immediate action based on a belief in yourself; that all you’ve learned, from your birth to this moment now, is worthy of this action, this consequence and will ultimately be for the good.
Instinct is faith – faith in yourself. And by extension, instinct is also faith in other people – faith that your actions are primarily motivated by the self but ultimately good. And faith that other people can handle it.
Go on, try it. Trust you instincts a wee bit more. If nothing else, it’ll make this week a whole lot more interesting.