The role of a parent is to teach your children but many times they end up teaching us a few lessons. These lessons have greatly helped us in dealing with the stress in our personal and working lives. My son Daniel had just turned five when he gave me a lesson in trusting your instincts…
“Are you sure you want to do this mate?” I asked Daniel as I removed his bike’s training wheels.”
“Yep” he replied without a moment’s hesitation.
“Did you want to wear any padding? We’ve got wrist pads, knee pads and elbow pads”
“Just the wrist and knee pads, thanks Daddy.”
I strapped the protective pads on him as he put on his helmet.
“Let’s go mate”, “I said as I wheeled him out of the garage. As we went down the embankment of our driveway I found myself clinging to Daniel’s shirt.
“Let go, Daddy. Let go,”Daniel said calmly.
I let go and to my amazement Daniel went down the embankment and rode his bike up the street for about thirty metres letting out a “Woo Hoo!” in delight. After dropping his bike and falling on his feet while trying to negotiate a turn Daniel called out to me.
“Are you alright champ?” I asked.
“Yeah. Dad, can you take this?” he replied, ripping off his knee pads and wrist pads. “These are hurting me. I can’t ride properly with these on”
He proceeded to jump back onto his bike and ride around for the next twenty minutes.
As I watched him I realized that I learn so much from watching my children. Today I learnt to be more like a child. I learnt that like Daniel’s wrist and knee pads we can become so preoccupied trying not to get hurt or not to make a mistake that it can interfere with what we want to do. How many times in your life have you be frozen in fear? Afraid to take action because you were afraid of making a mistake.
The solution? …
Be more like a child. Just let go and do what comes naturally.
With increasing advances in medical technology it is easy for us to place greater faith in medical tests than we have with our own intuition and common sense. I am not saying to ignore medical tests. That would be foolish. What I am saying is not to ignore your own instincts. Your gut feelings are just as valid as any medical test. Medical tests and physicians aren’t perfect. They can say that you have something wrong when you haven’t. They can give you the all clear when you do have something wrong. That’s why we have all been blessed with the gift of intuition.
On the Ellen DeGeneres Show, I recall Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue revealing that she was initially given a clean bill of health when she went to investigate lumps in her breast. Fortunately, she sensed that something was wrong and followed her instincts and sought a second opinion. The result saved her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since had it successfully treated.
Following your instincts can also help give you clarity at times when you get back confusing results from medical tests.
During the birth of our third child Erika, my wife Angela lost a lot of blood. Upon leaving hospital she was advised to take iron supplements. Knowing that isolated supplements (supplements that are not in whole food form) can stress the liver, Angela agreed to take the supplements for a two week period and then get her blood iron levels tested.
After getting the follow up blood test Angela received a phone call from her doctor.
“How are my iron levels?” she asked.
“They are fine. “He replied.
“Good. I can stop taking those supplements now,” said Angela.
“But the blood test show that you now have hepatitis!” interrupted the doctor.
Fortunately Angela had worked within hospitals for 10 years and had a good medical knowledge. She also trusted her instincts. “Look I can assure you that I don’t have hepatitis.”
“But the blood test show that you have drastically elevated liver enzymes.” retorted the doctor.
“That would be due to taking those iron supplements. It can stress the liver.”
“I don’t think it does that,” replied the doctor.
Angela then used her common sense. She didn’t ignore the medical test and she didn’t ignore her instincts. “How about if we take another blood test in two weeks time? Would that be okay?”asked Angela.
The doctor hesitantly agreed.
For the next two weeks Angela did something very important. She let go.
What do I mean by ‘letting go’? Angela didn’t focus on the new blood test results at all. She was focusing on helping our new baby adjust to the world. She didn’t talk about the blood test. She didn’t waste her energy worrying about the new test results. She continued going about her life as usual.
Two weeks later, Angela called the doctor for the results of the blood test.
“Good news,” said the doctor. “Your liver enzymes and your iron levels are perfectly normal.”
“I thought so because for the last two weeks I have stopped taking those iron supplements.”
“And you were right Angela,” added the doctor. “I have been doing research and have found that various supplements can actually stress the liver.”
After Angela had hung up the phone she said, “I told you so.”
I was talking to a group about following your instincts when one participant asked, “I have so many voices going on in my head. How do I know which one to trust?”
It is important to listen to your heart. Don’t listen to your hurt. Don’t pay attention to your thoughts when you are upset or afraid. I know it sounds a bit corny but what I mean by this is that you should get yourself into an emotionally peaceful state. Imagine you are watching a glorious sunset or you are watching a young baby crawl for the first time. When you are experiencing this calmer, more peaceful state that is when you take notice of your thoughts.
From personal experience in coming from the verge of a nervous breakdown 12 years ago to now being described as pathologically happy I can say that the major gift I received from that experience was the absolute conviction in trusting and following your instincts. Fortunately, now I have three beautiful young children who remind me of this every day.