Trusting Your Inner Instincts

Instinct is reactionary to certain stimuli. The animal kingdom shows us this in feeding habits, mating, and fighting.

unlock-your-instinctShould you rely on your intuition by trusting your instincts? Going with your gut instinct may feel like the right decision to make, but are there other factors you should consider? Have you ever come to an intersection and you turned left, but felt you should have turned right? Then you realize your gut instinct was correct. Instinct is reactionary to certain stimuli. The animal kingdom shows us this in feeding habits, mating, and fighting. These are not things we learn, these are things we do. Unlike a reflex that is controlled via the nervous system, instincts come from the brain and are felt in your stomach.

These instincts are felt in your gut. When you are nervous you may feel nauseous, when you are in love you may feel butterflies in your stomach. Trusting your feelings is important when making decisions and will give you good advice. Think about making a first impression, the first time you meet someone you invoke an opinion about them, an instinct. When you hire a contractor like an electrician, a painter or a housekeeper, you get a gut feeling about the person you will be inviting into your home. This advice from your inner-self is as reliable as reading an advertisement.

Tap into this natural mechanism by breathing deeply and letting your stomach relax. Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, says, “You can’t tell what’s going on if your belly is always hard as a rock and flat. You’ve got to have your belly rounded a little bit to be in touch with your gut instincts.” Yeah, an excuse to NOT do sit-ups!

Using your instincts as a tool, with all other available information will make you more successful negotiating the choices and decisions we are faced with every day. However, do not rely entirely on that gut feeling. Check out this example from Roger Shepard’s book Mind Sights: Original Visual Illusions, Ambiguities, and Other Anomalies (W. H. Freeman, 1990):

Illustration of two tables © 1990 Roger N. Shepard

Illustration of two tables © 1990 Roger N. Shepard

Are these two tables the same shape and size? Almost everyone I ask immediately says one is a square and one is a rectangle.

They were wrong. Going with their gut caused them to be wrong. To prove this fact, trace the surface of either of the tables and then line it up over the other table. The two table surfaces are identical in both shape and size.

Here is another mind game for you I received from a good friend just this morning, go take a look, I’ll wait…

How did you do on that one? It is amazing what you think you saw and what actually happened isn’t it? Allowing your instinct to make your decisions is a bad idea. When making important decisions it is critical that you take the necessary time and access every available resource to weigh the pros and cons. The more important the outcome, the less you should rely on your instinct. This explains why making hasty decisions are often wrong. Be aware that your instinct is worth listening to, and take time making life’s more important decisions. When you seem to be at an impasse and are considering using your instincts – go with what your gut tells you to do, especially if it just feels “right”.

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1 Comment

  1. tommylee

    I don't know how Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom got her Dr. degree, but her explanation is utterly misleading and more to the point .. wrong. Gut feelings have nothing to do with rock hard abs or relaxing your gut and absolutely no justification to avoid sit-ups.

    What people call the “gut feeling” is part of our parasympathetic nerve system and more defined by the Solar Plexus which is part of the pneumogastric nerve or cranial nerve X (10th) out of the 12 paired Cranial Nerves, and is the only nerve exiting from the brain stem (medulla oblongata) and conveys sensory information about the state of the body's organs to the central nervous system. The Solar Plexus, also called Coeliac Plexus is a large interconnected bundle of nerves forming a ganglia (Knot) of such complexity that a spider's web seems a simple construction in comparison. This knot or ganglia is located behind the stomach and controls, monitors and reports the the entire Gastroenteric cavity including kidneys, liver, stomach, intestines, pancreas, gall bladder etc.

    “Peeing in your pants” due to fear, diarrhea due to fear and other emotions, heart racing etc. is “controlled” by the same Solar Plexus.

    Now the “Gut Feeling” is an emotional state made up out of a complex interaction between past impressions of similar circumstances, emotional state of mind and the “reporting system” of the solar plexus.

    Nothing more, nothing less….

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