"Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself." Oprah Winfrey
Last week the unthinkable happened. A 17-year-old classmate of my daughter was killed in a fluke accident. Needless to say our whole family was shaken and saddened by this seemingly senseless event.
Allison’s natural and healthy grieving was beginning to take its course as we began to deal with the reality at hand. Fortunately, she hasn’t had many opportunities to deal with death in her young life. Dinner that night was painful; we had an understandably quiet and upset teenager trying to get through dinner, sinking deeper and deeper into a cacophony of feelings.
As her parent I knew it was up to me to comfort, support, provide wisdom and help her process this difficult experience, but how? It was time for me to intervene and I knew the first step was to embark on a conversation that would lead toward her healing.
As I started up the stairs to her room, my heart was in my throat and my thoughts overwhelming. “What would I say to her?“ What do I know about grief? I don’t have much experience with loss either. What if I burst into tears myself from feeling the pain my child is in?
As I rounded the corner and headed down the hall to her room I heard a voice from deep inside say, “trust your instincts, you’ll know what to say”. It stopped me dead in my tracks. “Trust my instincts”? Help! What does that mean?
In what felt like a lifetime, but was actually sixty seconds, I started to connect with my instincts.
Instincts are what urge us to respond, they are a powerful motivation or impulse. In this case my maternal need to comfort my child. Instincts are also the innate capability or aptitude we have to fulfill a task at hand, my being a good mother.
My instincts got me up the stairs, now what would I have to access to be a good and wise mother for my grieving daughter?
That was easy. I simply asked myself what she needed; space to share her feelings, someone to hold her while she cried, someone to tell her everything she was feeling was normal. These things actually come easy to me, I could do this.
Do you listen to and follow your instincts? Here are some tips for building and trusting your relationship with your instincts:
1. Learn to listen for your inner voice. The noise of your thoughts and fear often drown out your quiet voice within. Stop, breathe and see what you can hear.
2. Trust your heart. Value what you are feeling as well as what you are thinking. The first step toward trusting your heart is acknowledging, and appreciating your conditioned trust in logic. Both qualities are essential and if you tend to rely on logic over heart, focus on building your heart strength.
3. Remember your personal strengths. What are you good at? Draw from this when you act.
4. And finally, as Billy Wilder said, "Trust your instincts. Your mistakes might as well be your own instead of someone else's." It’s your life to learn and grow from. As long as you adopt a learner’s stance how far off can you really go?
I opened the door to my daughter’s room. I took a deep breath and held out my loving arms to welcome her in. In the time we spent together sometimes talking, sometimes silent, and with a lot of tears from both of us, she began the healing process. By the end of our time we were both laughing and reliving wonderful memories she had of her classmate.
My instincts served me well, they served my daughter well and I am a more confident parent as we all continue to heal.
Helaine Iris is a certified Life Coach, writer and teacher that loves her life. She works with individuals, entrepreneurs, and professionals, who want to integrate their life purpose with their personal and professional life to create a life that’s joyful, fulfilling and successful. Are you ready to take a step that could change your life? For a complimentary session visit her website http://www.pathofpurpose.com or call her 603-357-8546 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org