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