Is it Fear? Or is it Your Gut Instinct?
Don’t get them confused!
But also, don’t worry if you have already. Chances are you were never taught about the difference between superficial mental fears and true gut instinct.
The mind can easily fool us, particularly when it comes to gut instinct. After all, we feel our emotions within our bodies. When you’re scared, you most likely get clammy hands, butterflies, and an increase in heart rate, right?
In a similar fashion, when we experience a gut instinct, we also receive physical sensations.
So how on earth can we distinguish between the two?
My response is to pay attention to your mind. What is the quality of your thoughts? Is your mind racing, frantic, or chaotic? If so, you are experiencing fear.
On the other hand, if your mind is relatively neutral, but your body is experiencing strong reactions (like a sense of impending doom for instance), you are experiencing a gut instinct.
In other words, when you need to distinguish between the voice of fear and your gut instincts, always turn your attention to your mind.
Gut instincts are spontaneous – they arise out of the blue. They don’t have time to build-up in the brain, therefore, the brain is relatively still and neutral. There is no “hmm, should I? Shouldn’t I?” going on. There is just an immediate DO THIS/DON’T DO THIS.
Fears, on the other hand, build-up. They are typically more vague, nagging, unclear, and tumultuous. If your mind is spinning, if your thoughts are everywhere, you are experiencing fear, not gut instinct.
“One life to live, live it to the fullest. If you have doubts or your gut feeling says something, listen.” – Behdad Sami
7 Gut Instincts You Should NEVER Ignore
Obviously, you must be the judge. But there are some situations in life where your gut instincts shine the most.
While it’s easy to brush off most nagging sensations, please never ignore the following ones:
1. “I’m in danger”
Remember that your gut instincts reflect what your subconscious mind already knows. Although you may not be able to pinpoint what exactly the danger is, please listen to this inner warning. It could be the difference between life and death.
2. “They’re in danger”
Yes, you might sound like a lunatic. Yes, you might feel embarrassed or perplexed. But if you genuinely feel that someone is in danger, tell them. You have nothing to lose. You might just prevent the person from making a big mistake or endangering themselves.
3. “This isn’t the right choice”
If you get a strong and clear feeling that what you’re doing isn’t right, pay attention. Even if there is no moral or logical reason why you should be feeling that way, take heed.
4. “I need help”
Your gut instinct doesn’t only warn you of danger, it also helps to preserve your emotional wellbeing. If you receive a strong sensation that you need help (whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually), seek it out. Don’t linger.
“You need to take your gut feeling as an important data point, but then you have to consciously and deliberately evaluate it, to see if it makes sense in this context.” – Gary A. Klein
5. “I need to help them”
At some point in our lives, the overwhelming desire to help someone will arise. There may not be any rational reason why. The other person may appear to be perfectly fine on the surface. But don’t let appearances deceive you. Have a conversation with the person. Ask them how they are. This might make you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable, but you will at the very least make the person feel special, and at the most potentially save their lives.
6. “Something feels off in my body”
Unless you’re a hypochondriac (which is unlikely), your gut instincts rarely lie about the state of your health. If a sudden strong and clear desire arises to see a medical professional, do it. Get a full health assessment, and even if nothing comes up, feel proud of yourself for practicing self-care.