9. Trust your instincts (God is in our deepest desires)

December 5, 2017 in 10 Spiritual Exercises for Everyone

“Desire is a key way that God’s voice is heard in our lives,” says Fr. Jim Martin, SJ. Part of the joy and the pain of being human is that we find ourselves made up of complex desires and instincts. We want to live a great life and do something significant and yet we find ourselves compromising and living less than ideal lives. Our instincts often seem to betray us, promising much but not delivering.

In our often fickle and superficial culture we are less connected with our own instincts and often more concerned about external pressures like looking good or not losing face. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to look inside and to work out what we really feel about a situation or person, and then to act on it. Sometimes we don’t trust our instincts or desires, are not used to looking within and are accustomed to letting things go with the resultant listlessness or sense of dissatisfaction. Alternatively, we mistake our fleeting moods or feelings for instincts and live at the mercy of them.

One of the challenges of trusting our instincts is acknowledging that we can get it wrong, can be swayed by emotion or bias, or can misread situations or people. However, this is not a reason to disengage, only a reminder of how careful we have to be and how important the process is:

  • How do I feel internally about this situation or person e.g. angry, uneasy, loving, apathetic, repulsed?
  • How could I be misreading this situation e.g. am I angry, hungry, tired, projecting, unhappy in myself? Pray for help and courage.
  • What would be a reasonable, not impulsive, response e.g. how could I speak my truth in a way that will be heard? What courage do I need to say what I really feel would be needed to transform this situation?
  • What would a loving God want me to do?