How Following Our Instincts Now Can Protect Us from Pain Down the Line

“There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long, I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong. No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right for you. Just listen to the voice that speaks inside.” ~Shel Silverstein

Some time ago, a guy I knew suggested I go swimming with him and a friend of his. I accepted.

I didn’t know him well. Sometimes he would say hello and be warm, while other times he would ignore me. Since he was a longtime friend of a girl I knew, I was looking forward to getting to know him better so we could become friends too.

He and his friend dived several times from the ten-meter diving board. When it was my turn to jump, I was petrified.

I was standing on the diving board with a firm will to jump, but the emptiness below me paralyzed me.

My new friend climbed the stairs of the diving platform, came on the board, and kissed me on the mouth to encourage me. It was cute of him, but the situation stressed me even more. I knew him very little, and the fact that he blew hot and cold did not give me confidence.

When I finally got off the diving board, without having jumped, I told him how much I appreciated that he came to encourage me, but I preferred that we stay friends.

In the following months, whenever I bumped into him, he ignored me.

About six months later, as I was walking down the street, he ran out of a restaurant to greet me and offer to ski with him and his friends, which I accepted. I was surprised at his change in attitude and relieved that he was no longer mad at me for sending him away at the pool.

We spent a wonderful day of skiing, during which he was particularly friendly.

In the evening, we met at the local pub, where he told me of his desire to go out with me. I replied, again, that I preferred that we stay friends.

Later that evening, when I passed him on the pub stairs, he walked straight past without looking at me. It hurt me. I knew he was hurt, but it was unfair to ignore me again. I had spent a wonderful day with him and wished we could stay on good terms.

Following this, I felt uneasy and ended up telling him that I had changed my mind about him because I wanted things to go back how they were earlier that day, when he was warm and charming. That’s how our relationship started, but I quickly realized something was wrong.

I noticed that when he needed me or when we were planning to spend the night together, he was warm and generous with compliments. On the other hand, when I was useless to him, he was cold and distant. The sudden shift between the two extremes made me doubt his sincerity and feel manipulated.

Moreover, he did things secretively, which created an atmosphere of mistrust.

Also, he always created a busy schedule for himself, in which he assigned me time slots in advance.

If I suggested that we see each other at a time other than what he had initially planned, he did not let go until I gave in.

I felt like a pawn on his chessboard, and I was tiring of the lows but growing addicted to the highs.

When I would bring up issues in our relationship, he was not open to questioning himself. Each time, he managed to convince me that I was the cause of the problem. The argument ended with me crying and begging him to forgive me.

As a result, after each argument, I felt that the problem was still unsolved, and my frustration escalated.

He ended up leaving me, which was legitimate since we were constantly arguing.

The breakups I had experienced with other ex-boyfriends had left me either relieved or heartbroken, or both. This breakup left me with an identity crisis.

During our relationship, when my ex-partner found a flaw in my personality, he could not help but amplify it and remind me of it all the time.

That is when I started to doubt myself. Who was right, him or me? Maybe he was right, and I was this person he was describing.

It took me a while to realize that this relationship was toxic. Looking back, I wondered how I could have come to this.

How could I have been left by a man I had never wanted to be with and for whom I had never had romantic feelings?

Also, why had I tried so hard to make this relationship work when I was miserable throughout its course?

In other relationships, I’ve always had feelings for my partners. Those magical feelings that make you euphoric at the beginning, and every time you see someone who looks a little like your loved one, you think it’s him.

In this case, the unease after being ignored made me change my mind.

In his defense, my ex-partner never forced me to be in a relationship with him, and as an adult, I am responsible for my choices.

Yet, his strong-willed character always ended up defeating my decisions.

This experience taught me why you should listen to your inner voice and be in tune with yourself. The voice inside tells you what feels right and wrong for you.

Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition, even when people insist you go against it. Does that mean that you should think only of yourself? No, obviously. However, if what is being asked of you goes against your intuition, and even if you do not understand why, it is better not to do it.

If I had listened to my intuition and refused to go out with this guy, I would have hurt him briefly but saved him from a relationship that did not suit him. Moreover, I would have spared myself unnecessary suffering.

When you make decisions with your heart, you have no or fewer regrets if things go wrong.

It can take time to learn to listen to your inner voice and follow your instincts without feeling guilty—especially if you learned growing up to put other people before yourself, as I did.

If you feel that someone or something isn’t right for you but worry about upsetting someone else, remind yourself that a little short-term discomfort can often save you a lot of pain down the line.

About Pamela Nylander

Pamela Nylander, Ph.D., is a biologist and medical engineer who likes to explore nature and play chess. She is the founder of CilantroNews.com, a website that helps people find the best natural cures for their health problems. She believes in health through nature and thinks that health issues arise when there is an imbalance in the toxins the body needs to get rid of and the essential compounds obtained from healthy food.

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