You should TRUST YOUR GUT because it’s the real you

Trusting your gut Dan of the World

We all have gut feelings and I think the majority of the time trusting your gut is so important, and I think it’s important because it’s the real you talking. What I mean by that is your gut feeling is your instinct, it’s the feeling you have when something happens to you and you have a reflex reaction. A reflex reaction is your gut reaction in full physical form, it’s an action that is uncontrolled by you, it’s an action that is raw and real and uncensored.

That’s a powerful thing that needs to be listened to.

Your gut reaction tells you about yourself

Consider the following situation and go immediately with how you’d react: you’re at a party during the day with your best mate, it’s approaching late afternoon and everyone has had a few drinks. Soon someone enters the party that no one really knows (he’s a friend of a friend of a friend), he’s drunk and starts verbally abusing your mate. He’s not full on shouting, he’s just not being nice, he’s being a wanker basically. What do you do? What’s your gut reaction?

Do you tell the loud mouth to shut up? Do you chat with your mate to try and make him feel better, and hope the loud mouth gets bored and goes away? Do you grab your mate and get up and walk somewhere else? Do you get up, walk over to the loud mouth and punch him in the face? Do you get so enraged and annoyed at the loud mouth bagging on your friend, that you run at him with a flying tackle and smash his face into the ground? Or do you sit there and do nothing and let your best mate fend for himself?

What’s the feeling that comes into your head?

What did I do?

Sadly for me the answer was sit there and do nothing and let my friend fend for himself. My gut feeling was ‘I hate conflict’ so I literally sat there not knowing what to do, and I did nothing to protect a guy who has always been there for me. I felt shit and weak and ashamed.

Many days after the event I fantasised about what I could’ve done. I imagined myself doing everything from shouting to the loud mouth “man why are you here? No one wants you here can you please fuck off!”. Right up to walking up to him, pushing him off his chair, giving him a barrage of punches in the face and telling him to not talk to my mate like that. So I guess two extremes.

What I learnt was that my gut reaction told me I was a coward, or at least someone who values his own safety over sticking up for someone. Next time if anyone says anything bad to my mate I will have his back, that’s a promise to myself and him.

Your gut reaction helps you make decisions

Have you ever had a hard decision or choice to make? Unless you’ve been living the life of a monk in a nice warm cave I think the answer is: yes, you’ve had to make tough choices or decisions in your life.

Your gut reactions can help with decisions of this nature, and I talk about the importance of making a hard decision in my post how do I make the right decision?

Usually your gut reaction is the right reaction, or at least it’s the true decision to how you’re feeling. When you have a hard decision you need to remember that feeling, because after you’ve had your initial gut reaction it’ll slowly fade over time, and it’ll fade because you tell yourself a million and one things of why a decision might be good or bad. Remember your gut reaction as it’s your true reaction to the decision, not one that’s been manufactured by your mind. When you know your honest and unfiltered reaction to a particular decision, it might make the choice easier to make.

When your brain gets in the way of your gut decision

So many times I’ve gone against my gut reaction during a decision that’s been needed to be made very quickly. It’s a split second decision. The kind of decision that needs to be processed so quickly it’s like a moment when two planes meet when they cross paths in the sky, travelling in opposite directions: it happens in an instant.

I think these are the type of decisions where afterwards we say to ourselves “why did I do that? It wasn’t what I wanted to do.” This is when our head gets in the way of our heart.

An example is when I was sitting on my balcony in Vietnam during the heat of the day. I really enjoy that time of day as most people are taking a break and everything is quiet and still, and I love the heat. It’s literally like an electric oven that’s just been switched on at 100 degrees celsius (212 degrees F) and has been running for 7 minutes, so it’s hot but not stupidly hot yet.

As I was sitting on my little balcony of the homestay, a Vietnamese man who I thought was a guest walked to the gate about 10 metres ahead of me. I then thought that he could be a staff member of the homestay. My initial instinct was to shout “hello!”, to find out more about him and to talk, as I was genuinely interested. There was a perfect moment as he was directly opposite me and he looked up and glanced at me. That’s the airplanes crossing paths moment, I literally had a second to make the decision: do I shout ‘hello!’ or don’t I? Just as I made my gut decision of ‘yes!’ another thought flashed up, which was “people don’t just randomly shout ‘hello’ to people they don’t know in Vietnam”.

Sabotaging yourself

That second flash road block thought I’d just slammed up in my own face made me go against my own gut. That has to be a bad thing doesn’t it? I felt like he wanted me to say hello and I wanted to so why didn’t I just say it? I think if we make time to stop and think about it then a roadblock thought could flash up, it could make us go against our gut, it happened to me and it felt bad.

I was pretty bummed at myself for not just saying it. My gut instinct was to yell “hello” and strike up a conversation with the guy, but instead I chickened out for the reason I told myself of: people don’t just yell ‘hello’ to people they don’t know in Vietnam. Of course this is a ridiculous thing to think, and it made me question my own judgement. So sometimes your brain can really get in the way of what you really want to do.

When should you ignore or change your gut decision?

This is a very important point. When I describe a gut decision I describe it as a reflex reaction, that is a reaction you do automatically, without thinking.

If what we do automatically is immoral or wrong, then this is when we need our brain to kick in to make sure we do the right thing. Going back to my original example of the loud mouth at the party: if my gut decision was to leap up and punch him in the face, then this is a good example of knowing NOT to follow my gut decision. I could punch him, maybe seriously hurt him and they’d be consequences for me, that would be the wrong decision to make.

Maybe our gut decision or reaction is to get angry and throw a tantrum, or to be spiteful, or to be mean or hateful. I think these are all times when our brain keeps us in check, or at least our brain should keep us in check. Sometimes we do make mistakes, and I’ve written about making mistakes and changing how you work through regret in a previous post, which you should definitely read. When we make mistakes and start to change our way of thinking, our gut reaction will over time change as well. So perhaps instead of getting angry, your gut reaction is communicate how you feel through words. Whatever it is, it’ll be a decision you can trust, and the more you can trust your decisions I feel the easier they will be to make.

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