Listen to Your Instincts, NOT Your Instigators

Instincts: natural intuitive powers

Instigators: people who urge, provoke, or incite to some specific action or course

Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself because I cannot seem to learn how NOT to let others make me doubt my instincts. I have quite a few people in my life who fairly regularly feel the need to urge my husband and I to take some action other than the one we choose. Some directly speak their mind and others are more passive-aggressive about the way they share their disapproval or doubt.

My husband and I have four children: three are adopted and two were born with challenges that lessened their quality of life. I know I am not the majority, but I believe the body is designed to work; and any pain or discomfort, or anytime the body’s organs are not functioning problem-free, it means something is causing the disturbance. I do NOT believe colic, food intolerances, reflux, sensory integration disorder, and other similar challenges are “normal.” I believe there is almost always a root cause, especially when a single child has more than one of these challenges, and I never accept the diagnoses that basically mean the doctors admit there is a problem but they don’t know why (such as IBS, chronic fatigue, etc.). Because of that I have always respectfully challenged doctors and advocated for answers far past when most people would accept the answer. Also because of that, my children are healthy, happy, and thriving in spite of challenges that would normally be extremely limiting.

I have found that my approach is not very popular: not with some doctors, and not with many of my family. Because I research heavily and ensure I am able to speak the language and challenge doctors when I feel it necessary, and I try and correct someone when I feel they have an incorrect perception or understanding, I have been called a know-it-all by my family and “one of THOSE Moms” by my kids’ doctors. I have also been accused of being a hypochondriac and even of having Münchausen Syndrome (i.e., I make up myself or the kids being sick for attention); though I have never understood the last two accusations, since my seemingly obsessive efforts are to make them healthy, not sick. Sadly, those who accuse me most tend to be those who I feel should be supporting me in my efforts to improve my children’s quality of life.

I am embarrassed to admit how many times friends or family have caused me to doubt myself, and the consequences in some instances were life threatening.

  • One time a group we were staying with felt I was overreacting to my son’s symptoms, which to them seemed “normal.” Even my husband wasn’t sure I needed to worry. When I finally listened to my gut and rushed him to the Emergicenter, he stopped breathing on me twice during the drive and the ER doctor yelled at me for not coming sooner. My husband has never doubted my instincts since, but the next day our group still felt I was exaggerating because my son looked “fine” and it was “ironic” that I was the only one to take him whenever these things happened.
  • Another time my 8-month old daughter seemed particularly lethargic and unlike herself, and I felt her lips seemed off-color, but everyone convinced me I was just overly worrying and she was just tired. The next day, when I decided to trust my gut and take her to see the doctor, I felt stupid because as soon as we arrived my lethargic daughter transitioned into a a smiling, cooing baby who charmed the nurse. At that moment, I was convinced they had been right and I was overreacting. That is, until the nurse found that her left lung was almost completely collapsed. She was taken to the hospital and admitted immediately.

Sadly, even after these and many other lessons of a similar nature, I recently allowed others’ comments to make me doubt myself AGAIN. As it turns out,  if I HAD backed down, I would have missed a key piece of my youngest daughter’s medical history and I may have inadvertently taught my daughter to doubt her own instincts as well.

I WILL eventually learn how to be confident in my instincts ALL OF THE TIME. But, until I do, my husband and I have decided that we need to make difficult decisions and surround ourselves with people who support us in our efforts to care for our children as we feel is right, rather than people who continue to make us doubt our choices. Those who are able to help us brainstorm, consider all our options, and question our thoughts logically, lovingly, and open-mindedly will continue to be our sounding boards and will receive updates. Those who question with judgment and condemnation in their words just will not hear from us. We are not doing this out of spite or anger, I personally feel I  need to do this to ensure I continue to have the strength to advocate for my children, and that my inability to be immune to others’ disapproval won’t end up harming my children if I don’t take action when I should.

Do you need to do this in your life too? In case you do, I will share my learning lessons with you. Obviously, I am not claiming to have mastered these completely, but I do know that they are skills I NEED to master and will be working on daily.

When you are facing a difficult life decision:

  • ALWAYS listen to your gut. Whether you call it your inner voice, your intuition, Buddha, or the Holy Spirit…try and listen to that voice first and external voices second.
  • Find people who respect your thoughts and decisions even when they don’t agree. Those people will add value to your lives by helping you think through alternate options and paths you may not have thought to consider; but they will do so in a way that makes you feel as though you are wrapped in a big warm cozy hug as you tackle the challenge together.
  • Challenge authority whenever you have to. No one person or doctor knows everything, and no one knows you or your child better than you do. So challenge if you need to: respectfully and firmly. Don’t confuse challenging someone’s opinion with disrespecting the person. Just choose polite and respectful words, express your reasoning, and persist when you feel you need to.
  • Recognize that family is not always right, but they do usually mean well. Attempt to close down discussions politely before your feelings are hurt and the conversation ends badly. Come back to the discussion at a later time and try and talk through what happened and how you could have avoided it.  If they won’t talk it out with you, and they won’t stop the behavior, then just limit conversations to what you feel is still respectful to them but not draining to you.
  • Be sure to eat healthier, drink more water, and get more sleep when you are under a lot of  stress. Take extra fish oil and stress B vitamins. It will always be harder to maintain calm and control if you are tired and suffering from fluctuating blood sugar and a constant flow of cortisol (the stress hormone).
  • Ask for help. This is a big one for me. I tend to try and be strong and not ask for help. I need to put myself out there more and make more good, supportive friends who I feel I can ask for help when I need it. A true friend will WANT to be there for you when you need support.
  • Consider all advice against your specific situation. Listen to others’ experiences in case something helps, but don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking someone else knows what is right for you or your child…even if they have seemingly been through the same thing. All seizures are not the same. All allergies are not the same. Any condition is on a spectrum, and everyone’s situation will fall in a different location within that spectrum. It is good to learn from each other, and to question yourself and be sure you are being objective; but it is not good to doubt yourself or let fear of judgment block you from acting.
  • Finally, recognize that even if you advocate strongly and you end up finding that nothing was wrong or it wasn’t what was originally thought, you still did the right thing. Knowing what it is NOT is often just as helpful. AND, at least then you are being true to yourself. After all, how will others respect us unless we learn to respect ourselves?

***updated 8/7/2013***


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Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

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