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02/05/2005 Archived Entry: "Listen to your gut!"

EVER NOTICE HOW OTHER PEOPLE KEEP REPEATING THE SAME MISTAKES? Like that best friend of yours who gets caught in every financial scam that comes along, each time convinced that this one will bring prosperity. Or your sister who keeps getting into catastrophic relationships with interchangeably dreadful men. We're so much smarter than they are.

Yeah, like we never repeat our own mistakes.

Here's my big repeater. I know -- I know -- that if my gut is telling me one thing and my head is telling me another that my gut is always right. I should never listen to my head when there's a conflict. Maybe it's different for you; some of us are head people and some of us are instinct-runners. But for me: gut over brain, every time.

Except that time and again, I make the mistake of letting my head talk my gut out of what it knows.

Did it just last week. Got an email that set off at least five separate gut alarms. Wrongness just screamed out of this e-mail. But there were good elements in it, too. The person writing it seemed smart, reasonable, good humored, friendly. A regular Boy Scout yada yada. I held the mail for a few days while I checked around to see if any of my friends knew the writer or knew anything about him. Nobody did. So, based on the good, I gave this person a little wedge into my life. Bad news. Turned out to be the dumbest thing I've done so far this year. I shoulda known. I coulda stopped it. But I listened to my head saying "Boy Scout" instead of my gut saying "NO!"

I've told myself before I'm not gonna make that mistake again. Gut, not head, woman. But then the soft side of my brain gives people the benefit of the doubt. Brain says my gut perceptions must be wrong. My mother's voice lectures that I should be polite and not arbitrarily reject anybody. And so I do the same stupid damn dumb thing again.

No more "benefit of the doubt." I still haven't quite figured out how to enforce the gut-rules-brain rule infallibly. But no individual gets benefit of the doubt from me any more unless that person has earned it. If somebody smells, then I'm gonna assume it's because they're rotten meat. And no matter what the polite-Mom voice in my head says, I owe no courtesy or consideration to something crawling with maggots.

Posted by Claire @ 10:47 PM CST

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