Almost everyone experiences a “gut feeling” now and then. It’s that “somehow I just know” feeling or voice in the back of your mind that’s often referred to as “intuition” or “instinct.” But should we be paying attention to - and acting upon - gut feelings?
A gut feeling tends to be the first thought that pops into your head in a situation. It may seem to come out of nowhere. But perhaps such thoughts do not necessarily appear all on their own. Whatever that little voice is saying to you could possibly be based on a reserve of information and experience you have acquired over the years.
Think about it. A lot of situations we come across in life are not completely new to us. Most likely, we’ve been through something similar at least once before… if not numerous times. Those experiences are stored somewhere in our memory banks, creating a sort of database the subconscious mind can access.
As a result, some gut feelings could be based on the lessons we have learned from the outcomes of accumulated experiences and decisions we’ve made over time. Of course, that doesn’t mean every gut feeling is based on prior experience or acquired knowledge. And it certainly does not mean that gut feelings should be trusted without further contemplation and logical reasoning.
If there’s a decision of importance or significance to be made, banking on a gut reaction alone may not be the best bet. Instead, whenever possible, it is probably better to take in all the information available at the time and to think about the most likely result of each possible decision that could be made in the situation.
In emergency situations, when there is no time to contemplate options, the gut instinct often takes right over without conscious thought. We act immediately thanks to the “fight or flight” response mechanism deeply rooted in all animals, including human beings. This automatic reaction is set off in response to a perceived danger. We’ve all pulled a hand away from a hot source before our minds had a chance to register the high temperature or we've stepped back up on a curb when about to cross a street even though we didn’t actually see or hear the car that was racing along the street toward us.
Some gut feelings can keep us from falling victim to lies or deception. Many people live by the saying “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Listening to your gut when it tells you there is something wrong with an offer or deal may end up saving you a heap of misery down the line. Unfortunately, those of us in our seasoned years are often targeted by all kinds of scams, from identity theft to bogus investments. Always take time to research the business and people behind any offer or deal.
In some instances, people have gut feelings about the folks they care about and sometimes sense when certain loved ones or friends are unhappy, sad, hurting, or in some kind of trouble. You have probably had a gut feeling that told you when someone needed your help, even though the individual never voiced that need. Obviously, there are times when this type of gut feeling is completely off the mark, but it may be worth at least asking the person if everything is okay. The worst that can happen is you find out your gut feeling is invalid.
So… should you be listening to that feeling in the gut?" Most likely, the correct answer is unique to each specific situation and to each person. It’s a question you can only answer for yourself. But you may want to at least pay attention to strong gut instincts that feel like they have some validity... while ALWAYS using conscious decision-making as well whenever possible.