Yesterday, I had a disturbing experience. As I worked at my computer, I looked out the window to see my new next-door neighbor go into a violent rage and abuse his dog. I immediately ran out of the room and called the city to report the abuse.

Besides being concerned for the dogs welfare, I was afraid for my own. The type of rage I saw was scary. I believe this man is dangerous. After I spent some time on the phone with my family getting emotional support, I called the police non-emergency number to ask if they had any suggestions on how to deal with a neighbor you’re afraid of. The officer told me to continue doing my own business and follow my instincts with how I related with him.

So much of my training in life has been about NOT following my instincts, but instead on following a formula. When I went to college, my dad told me to get a technical degree because that’s how he became successful. My dad never told me to follow my instincts to pick out my major. So I followed his formula, which brought me very limited success because it wasn’t my passion. My instincts were telling me to get a degree in interior design! But I had been so trained to ignore and not trust my instincts and to instead follow an authorities formula, I couldn’t find the courage to do what I really wanted to do.

Over the years, I’ve had the fortune of people coming into my life who knew the value of their instincts. When I was in my first marriage, which was very dysfunctional, I had a close friend who kept encouraging me to listen to my gut. She said my instincts were right on, and they were.

Sometimes, my instincts would tell me something wasn’t in the right timing. When I have ignored that message, I have later seen why my instincts were right. Observing this phenomenon has helped me build trust in my instincts.

Over time, I’ve learned to work with my instincts in productive ways. I listen to them now. For example, my instincts will tell me an interaction with someone isn’t healthy. My mind will make up a story to go make sense of it. The story may or may not be true, but the underlying message my instincts are telling me, “this interaction isn’t healthy,” is always true. So I decide how I will handle things based on that underlying message.

Are your instincts trying to tell you something? If so, what’s the underlying message?

Filed under: Intuition