Butterflies or Knots? 6 Ways to Listen to Your Gut

When you listen to your gut, are there butterflies in it, or knots? The universe always has little ways to encourage us towards our greatest journeys, especially for those brave enough to listen. I’ve seen everything from the word, “yes” spelled in the foam of a cappuccino to receiving a check for the exact amount needed for a down payment. Around this time last year, I was speaking to my students before class about my upcoming 4 week trip to California and how I wasn’t sure if I should visit a friend in Hawaii at the end of the backpacking excursion. Moments after, I flipped open Journey to the Heart by Melodie Beattie to find the message, “Let yourself take the side trips.”

“Journey to the Heart” by Melodie Beattie

Some signs are striking like the universe just punched you in the gut and giggled like a bratty older sibling, and others are subtle, hoping you are paying attention to them.

In recent years I’ve felt a steady grow in my desire to be great, to feel grounded, to be well in the moment, and act in a way that is both selfless and everlasting. I’ve always wanted to write and be my own boss but still, like a bumper car reaming relentlessly into the railing of the track, pressed for the monotonous 9–5 job. It was strange to me that I couldn’t fit the expectations of a full-time job in the big city. I had a great GPA and a semester at Oxford University on my applications. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and now I know my hesitations were written all over those resumes–I was only fooling myself with each submission.

Every time the A-Typical option fell through for me, I wound up looking around and finding something even greater. I remember I was applying to full-time office jobs when I met my (now) former boss, Randy. He was having dinner with a friend at the upscale restaurant I was waitressing at back in August of 2015, and it was completely by chance that he wound up at my table instead of the one he had requested. The serendipitous encounter led to a remote job, which is exactly what I’ve dreamt of for myself but had–in that period of my life–lost faith that it would come to fruition.

My point is…

It’s not a simple task; trusting in the unknown. Call it what you will–God, the universe, your gut, the cappuccino foam… but it’s thrilling and it’s worth it.

Here are some of the best ways to tune in and know when to follow your instincts:

1. Meditate

Clear your mind to release distractions and connect with your intuition. Meditation looks different for everyone; sometimes it’s stillness, other times it’s painting, singing, dancing, or chopping wood. Find your meditation and let it melt away the outside world so that you can listen to yourself.

2. Write

Let the thoughts flow naturally and see what comes out. Journaling can be therapeutic but you can also use writing to …

3. Make a list

For the more analytical mind, a list of comparisons works like a charm. Be mindful as you make the list though. What are your values? What’s the cost of the pros and cons to you? Think about your time, energy, emotions, etc. and how each possibility effects you. For me, when I start making a list of comparisons, sometimes the first choice seems like it has more positive factors than the latter but I choose the other option because it feels better. Typically that looks like me writing for 2 minutes, staring at the list for 3, crumpling it up and tossing it out because the choice becomes obvious despite what the chart looks like.

4. Release Attachment

Nothing will be perfect, but you have to let go of what feels comfortable or “normal” in order to sink into your destiny. It’s when we press past the constraints of the ordinary that we meet the extraordinary.

5. Forgive

Not every path is clear and paved. Sh*t can get messy when you listen to your intuition, but like I said before, isn’t that kind of thrilling? You crawl through thorn bushes and trip over tree roots, just to come out on the other side bloody, muddy, out of breath, and smiling nonetheless because you did it. YOU did it, and it wasn’t pretty, but it was what you needed to do and if that isn’t empowering, well I don’t know what is. Forgive yourself for the road bumps, they’re necessary for moving forward.

6. Stop Letting Fear Drive

Sometimes the universe has some pretty scary things to say. Before I landed that full-time job, I had to trust a total stranger to fly me out to New Orleans. I had written two articles for him, met him once, and spoken to his other employee once on the phone, but my gut screamed, “DO IT!!!” So, I did. It turned out to be the beginning of an epic adventure.


Was there a time you followed your intuition and gained an incredible story from it? Leave a comment–I’d love to hear about it!


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