How To Listen To Your InstinctsBy
How To Listen To Your Instincts And Make Better Decisions
How do you make decisions in your life?
Do you weigh the pros and cons?
Do you evaluate how the decision makes you feel?
Do you pay attention to what your body is telling you? For example, if you are asked to give a speech, does your heart rate increase and your hands start sweating at the thought?
Do you think about what other people will think and what they want you to do?
Do you listen to your gut?
The truth is that quite often we use one or two of these mechanisms to make decisions. However, we rarely remember to look at one of the most important mechanisms for guidance – our instincts.
Think about the decision to give a presentation. If you weigh the pros and cons, you are using your logical brain, right? You might consider the fact that your career will receive a boost from the presentation but it will also require some late nights and a bit of extra work. Those are valid considerations.
You might also listen to what your body is telling you, though you may not be aware of it. The idea of giving a presentation may make your fear responses kick into high gear. The fear of speaking in public is one of the most common and profound fears. Our heart rate increases, we gulp, our stomach hurts, we get a headache and even begin to perspire sometimes just thinking about it. That imaginary reaction, because you’re really not in any danger if you give a presentation, may cause you to decide not to do it. If you only listen to your body, you’d base your decision on a physical reaction that is unfounded and not real in terms of actual physical harm.
You may also begin to think about what happened the last time you gave a presentation. Perhaps you stumbled over your words or you were boring and those past experiences will likely affect your future decisions. Again, this is really an invalid way to make a decision because the past is just that, the past. It has no effect on the here and now.
You may also let your beliefs sway your decision. Perhaps you believe that you’re boring or that you aren’t smart enough to give this presentation or perhaps you believe that no one would really want to listen to you. However, the simple fact that you’ve been asked to do the presentation proves that wrong, correct?
The Brain In Your Gut
Most people forget to tune into or listen to their gut. Did you know you have brain cells in your stomach? You do. A type of cell called a Glial cell makes up most of your brain and these glial cells also reside in your gastrointestinal system – yes, you have brain cells in your gut. Pretty interesting, right? Scientists are still studying what it all means however it puts new power behind the phrase “Listen to your gut.”
You really do have a gut instinct. This gut instinct, though rarely listened to, usually turns out to be a great source of information. It bypasses false beliefs and the irrational fears and doubts that often come into play. It assigns no value to what other people think but essentially makes a decision based on what is best for you. It’s related to that saying, “You know the right answer lies deep inside of you.” When we listen to our gut we make successful and correct decisions for us.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the other parts of your decision making faculties.
- Your brain
- Your emotions
- Your physical body
- Your beliefs and experiences
The key is to acknowledge that you may be receiving incomplete or inaccurate information from them and to balance listening to your gut with listening to the rest of your signals.
It’s all about balance and it’s easy to get out of balance and forget to listen to your gut.
When we’re children we listened to it quickly and without thinking. Animals in the wild listen to it too. Imagine if a deer stopped to think – gosh should I run from that mountain lion? Maybe it’s full and has already eaten. I shouldn’t run because I’m not very fast and it’s going to catch me anyway. Well that poor deer would last about five seconds. However, if the deer listened to its instincts then it’d at least have a fighting chance.
Stress, false and limiting beliefs, day-to-day business, illness, and all the stuff that fills our days and our lives can get in the way of our very real ability to listen to and respond based on our gut. When you clean out the mental clutter and make tuning into your instincts a natural behavior, you’ll find that your decisions are easier to make. You’ll be more comfortable with making them, feel more certain, and they’ll be the right choices for you. Listening to your gut can set you on the path towards taking better care of yourself and others in the process.
©2009 Deborah A. Lindholm
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