I was talking with a friend the other day and the statement “trust your gut” came up in conversation. For my friend this is one of the main places for him to get information about a situation. As we were talking, I pointed out that for some people the internal trust needed to “go with their gut” has been corrupted. This brought up sadness for both of us and the question of how to restore this gut trust?
I know my own journey with gut trust has been fraught with lots of issues. I had an overactive gut that saw danger in the subtlest of things: emotional intimacy, physical closeness, touch. To walk through the world knowing that these intimacies are vitally important for my overall health, and to know on another level that my gut was saying “Run away, defend, quickly!” brought about a lot of pain and grief.
I was stuck in the cycle of wanting to be close with others because it was good for me, and this intense fear from my gut when people would get too close. By the time this all started to shift I had given up hope that I would ever be able to attach normally to another human being. My internal wires were all crossed and confused, so many years of struggle had passed, and my gut was a live wire shooting sparks of panic through my system. Definitely not fun.
How this all shifted for me was through psychotherapy that involved touch. I had to be involved in a safe relationship with a therapist where I could go slow enough to feel what happened in me in intimate relationship, and to know I had all the time I needed to feel and let go of every little spark that shocked my system. This was probably the hardest thing I ever went through, not only because of the physical discomfort in my gut and nervous system, but because of the grief and ego destruction the process entailed.
I had been trying to protect and defend myself for so long and that had to stop. I had to feel my deepest longing for connection and the grief that arose in opening to that unmet need. I had to speak what I felt, engage in conflict, and be a big fucking mess for a while (God bless my therapist’s heart!!). But then it all started to calm down, my gut reacted less, my desire for honest, open intimacy deepened, and I had some hope that I was going to be ok. And eventually a deep gut level knowing I am ok.
This to me is a miracle. I do not live without sparks of panic or distrust in relationship to intimacy, but the charge around them is way less. I know what it is like to trust, love, and make it through these waves in “safe enough” relationship (there is no 100% safe relationship, damn!).
In my work and in my life the keys of learning to restore gut trust has been first to not make any decision when activated (this is beyond valuable) this means when confused, angry, fearful, vengeful, grieving to pause and come back home to center within yourself. To drop your shoulders, soften your heart, and let this disturbance in your gut, heart, and nervous system process through without defending against it. This creates a ton of grounded self-confidence, and self-trust. Then without forcing it the solution will present itself to the current situation, often (for me) this solution is in agreement with the flow of life and aligns the heart, gut, and mind.
True freedom is not making all the right decisions, or being perfect at this thing called life, but being able to allow the old disturbances to pass through and come back to our deepest center and acting from there. Simple but not easy, yet well worth the risk!
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg