Gut feeling, gut instinct, intuition… we all know this. It’s that feeling you get when you know something, without knowing how you know it.
The trouble is that we’ve been taught to or conditioned to ignore this feeling.
We’ve been told to ignore our instincts, stay quiet, fit in, keep the peace, avoid conflict. Or, the feeling gets ignored because we feel like it’s not something that we can act upon.
For example, perhaps someone continually asks you for favours. Of course, you don’t mind helping out, but perhaps it’s getting to the point where you’re exhausting yourself trying to do everything they need because you’ve got things going on in your life, too.
Your gut instinct will be telling you that you need to rest, but perhaps you feel like you can’t act on this because you don’t want to let this person down, be seen as unreliable, create conflict or put them out. Perhaps you want to start meditating in the mornings but think that you need to do other chores or exercise first, as a result, you get caught up and the meditating never happens.
With all this noise from the brain, our gut instincts get quieter. They are still there, but it becomes difficult to recognize whether it’s a gut instinct – your intuition – or something else like fear.
Here’s the first clue that it’s gut instinct…
It doesn’t make sense to your mind.
Often, the head brain and the gut-brain are out of alignment with each other. When a gut feeling comes along, the brain argues why this is not rational (because it often isn’t to the brain).
Recently I was staying at my parent’s place which is close to a dog beach. One morning I was planning to take the dogs to the beach early because we were going out that afternoon. As I was getting ready, I walked past the pool and had a sudden urge to go for a swim. Of course, that didn’t make sense because I had planned to go to the beach and would swim there. Plus, the dogs did need to be exercised. But that feeling didn’t go away.
Then as I was putting the dogs in the car, I thought I should wait for my husband because he was still asleep. Then I decided it would be easier if I just went, because I’d then be back before he woke up. I drove to the beach feeling uneasy the whole time.
Long story short, my dogs were involved in a dog fight on the beach. Plus, my husband woke up about 5 minutes after I had left. If I had trusted my gut and gone for a swim, none of this would have happened. Or, Matt would have been there to help with the situation.
The second clue is that your gut feeling is always your first thought. Always.
This is where self-doubt can be a big problem. Because if you don’t trust your first thought, you won’t listen to your gut instinct.
Your first thought is what is right energetically for you at that time.
I’ve always struggled to know what to wear (anyone else?!). Changing outfits, stressing about what looks good, what other people will be wearing, blah blah blah… it would take ages and I’d hate going to things because I’d have to decide what to wear.
I’ve started going with my first thought. Whatever my hand touches or whatever my first thought is about what I should wear – that’s what I’m going with. It often doesn’t make sense to my brain or it throws up arguments like ‘oh but what if you want to wear this tomorrow, wouldn’t this top be better, it might get hot later…’ (btw, if that sounds exhausting – it is!)
So I’m ignoring the brain in this instance otherwise I’ll be there all morning.
When I was giving a guest talk a few months ago I decided to wear a nice white top. Then my brain jumped in and decided I should be more ‘professional’. I put on another top which was dressier, but it didn’t feel right. I ended up going with the first top and felt much more comfortable to give the presentation, even though it wasn’t as much of a professional look (according to my head). It was more authentic, and that helped me to be more authentic in my presentation.
Your gut knows what you need. Always. Your brain wants to keep you safe, and it will tell you to do things that it believes will keep you safe. But these things aren’t always what you need.
Your brain will keep you safe, but it’s not going to give you what you need.
Your brain is a bit like a mouse. Always assessing the situation, worrying about the big, bad world and its preference is to stick to what it knows, because it survived that. It’s quite happy to stay in its protected hole where it’s safe. It will always go on what it knows, and this blocks you from trying new things that can help you to heal.
So when you’re feeling confused, when you’re uncertain about what’s right for you, if there’s something you really want to do but there’s a fear about your capacity to do it, listen to your gut.
When you trust your gut, amazing things happen. Healing happens. The body knows what it needs to heal, and it also knows what you need to heal. Listening to that gut feeling, making it louder and trusting yourself is a total game-changer.