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Gut Feelings and Other Feelings that Make Me Stop at the French Bakery

Yesterday, I had an incident.  It was sudden onset amnesia that caused me to stop at the French Bakery.  I’m not sure why…. it was like someone else was driving my car.  And when I woke up I had a caramel macaroon in my hand. And I realized I was trying not to eat sugar this week. My instincts had taken over without hesitation.

People say to trust your gut.  People say that you should trust your instincts and follow your heart.  But there is one, huge, glaring problem with that philosophy.  Your gut lies, your instincts can be blind or walk with a limp.   My instinct right now is to go lay on the couch and watch a British TV series and possible eat some waffle fries.  My instinct is to make decisions that do not always benefit my life.  So when the world is telling you to trust your instincts how do you know when its time to trust them and when its time to realize that instincts have historically not always been the positive direction?

“Telling us to obey our instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people’. People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war… each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of all the rest. By the very act of listening to one rather than to others we have already prejudged the case. If we did not bring to the examination of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them.

CS Lewis

It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.

Sigmund Freud

So in some ways life is all about building a greenhouse of structure around the wildflower of instincts.  It is not good to crush them but instead to know them.  To be aware of their genous, where they grow the healthiest and how to replant them in nurturing soil.  But most of all, our instincts need a gardener that prunes, weeds and watches them intently.  My instinct to go hibernate is my need for solace. My need to think, reflect and rejuvenate my words.  I channeled those instincts today into Spyhouse Coffee where I got a latte, sat by a window and made some plans, let myself relax and most of all-left myself rejuvenate in a way that could let my instincts rest and my spirit take over.  Fear has no place in my instincts. So I’m listening but with half of myself.  I also have a plan and a desire to accomplish.  And my instincts will be married to that desire. And as I prune them I can trust them more.  I’ll hear those instincts that are for the best.



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