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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

5 Gut Instincts Not to Ignore If You Want to Get What You Want

5 Gut Instincts Not to Ignore If You Want to Get What You Want

Have you ever considered that there may be more to life than just your thinking mind? Have you ever thought yourself into a state of love and joy and bliss or did it just kind of happen? Sort of came up from somewhere, and then left again?

This is the magic and intelligence of our inner bodies. Although we live in a culture where the egoic, thinking mind is in charge all of the time, we only have to look (without thinking) within to find a whole new part of our being.

Gut instincts are a major part of this internal world that speaks in non-verbal form. Your gut feeling gives you hints, indications, and other pointers as to what you should be paying attention to, what you need to do for growth, and what people or situations you should avoid.

Where Does Your Gut Feeling Come From?

Your gut is often considered to be your second brain. According to mindfulness-based psychotherapist Lena Franklin, the cells in your gut carry memories from your past and sends these signals to the brain – even if the thinking mind can’t identify the specific memory.[1]

Because of this, the gut is often what people refer to when they have a ‘sixth sense’ about something or when they use something called their ‘intuition’. These subliminal messages about whether things are right or wrong, whether you should or shouldn’t go ahead, often bypass the logic of the brain and you receive the signals at a much deeper level.

Depending on how spiritual you want to get, many people believe that the universe, God, spirit (or whatever terminology you want to use) communicates through your inner body, rather than places like your head.

Should You Trust Your Gut Feelings? Why?

There is always a lot of debate when it comes to whether or not you should trust your gut. We live in a society where mind and logic rule all and the power of gut instincts has been left for the past or for crazy mystics that live in the mountains.

This is one of the main reasons why we even need to ask the question about whether or not we should trust our gut feelings. For most of us in the western world, they are a completely foreign concept, so no wonder we have trouble knowing whether or not we should trust them.

This point is emphasized by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. In one of life’s most analytical games, he explains that the total possible number of moves in a single game of chess is more than the number of seconds that have elapsed since the Big Bang created the universe![2]

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Because the game is so complicated, he explains that intuition – rather than analysis – is key to success. This idea transfers to the most complicated ‘game’ that there is: life.

The truth is that your gut feelings are just as important as your mind, if not more important. If you know how to use them correctly, gut feelings are rarely as incorrect as the mind is.

Your gut feeling communicates in more subtle and truer ways than your mind, and it speaks closer to who you really are – rather than going through the filter of your negativity and overanalyzing biases in your head.

Like with any skill and habit that is worth training, listening to your gut can be very difficult to learn to begin with, especially if it is something that you have never really tuned into before. With a bit of practice though, your mind and your gut can work in tandem to help you manifest your best possible life.

5 Gut Instincts That You Shouldn’t Ignore

Mastering listening to your gut and intuition can take months and even years of practice, but it is certainly a worthwhile path to lasting inner peace and happiness.

However, for now, there are five gut instincts that you shouldn’t ignore, and these are ones that you are probably already familiar with:

1. I’ve Done This Well Before

Everyone comes across particular stumbling blocks in their life. Sometimes there are obstacles that when looked at objectively and from a zoomed-out position, you can’t believe that they are obstacles because they seem so small. Yet here you are on the ground level, falling again and again at the same place.

Whether you are a basketballer who keeps messing up three-pointers, a footballer who can’t score a penalty, or someone who gets anxious about something that they have done loads of times before, it is all in the mind.

The mind can always get in the way and ironically, the more that you allow the mind to step in during those crucial moments, the more power it gets whenever you re-enter those crucial moments – leading to a negative cycle.

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The only way out of this is to trust your gut feeling. Be aware that your mind will want to step in and tell you that you should do this and should do that. You might be tricked into thinking that it is helping you, but it isn’t.

How many times have you put a golf ball from this distance? A million. You don’t need your mind telling you how to do it.

Be still. Be aware. Let your body and instincts take over.

2. I’m in Danger

This is probably one of the most powerful gut instincts that you will have experienced. Our survival instincts are arguably our most powerful set of instincts and are always on standby, waiting for us to need them.

These feelings often come from deep within your body and can be anything from a mild tingling that something isn’t right to something more extreme like a sharp pain. Either way, it is worth tuning in to your body and realizing that something is probably up.

In his book, Intuitions: Its Power and Perils, author and psychologist David Myers Ph.D. believes that the feeling you get about a person in the first 10 seconds expresses an “ancient biological wisdom”.

He relates this idea to the story of Jackie Larsen, who had a really bad feeling about someone who was asking for her help by the side of the road. It turned out that the man was a criminal fleeing a gruesome crime scene.

However, it is also important to consider the other side of this gut instinct. Because danger often relates to life and death situations, it is extremely important that you don’t just factor in your intuitions. This is one of those cases where the mind should still be there in the background to make sure you aren’t missing something obvious.

For example, the shooting of unarmed young men usually comes from this ‘I’m in danger’ intuition that was completely incorrect. This often comes from unconscious programming about what is and what isn’t actually dangerous – your rational mind should step in here.

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Similarly, if your ‘I’m in danger’ feeling goes off inside of you frequently, it is probably faulty. The reason that this intuition is so powerful is that it is reserved for those very rare (sometimes never) events that can occur when your life is in danger

If you frequently believe that your life is in danger, it might be time to review how much you listen to this intuition and why it is going off when it doesn’t need to.

3. I Feel off With This Person

One of the most common intuitions that almost everyone has experienced at some point is the gut feeling of ‘feeling off with someone’. It is that small but noticeable shift in your energy field that tells you that something is not quite right when you are interacting with someone.

Just like with most gut feelings, this particular one is there to be noticed, not immediately jumped on. After all, it can be difficult at first to distinguish between a shift inside that signals something positive versus one that signals something negative.

If you just assume that something is wrong whenever you feel a shift, you are going to be running away from so many situations that could be great for you.

Notice the feeling, remember the feeling, see what your mind has to say, and let everything play out over a bit of time. As long as you notice initially that something is ‘off’, you will be more aware and present. In this state, your judgment is clear and you can decide whether you want to follow through on your initial gut feeling or not.

4. I Feel I Need to Show Empathy

A positive gut instinct that is prominent within our lives is the instinct or intuition that we feel when we feel that someone might need our help. Because showing support and compassion for others is always a good thing, this is definitely an instinct that you will want to listen to.

You may feel it when you are at a group gathering and you see someone shy on the edges. Your intuition may tell you to invite them in. You may feel a shift when you see someone you care about facing a difficult time. Your intuition may tell you to comfort them and see how they are.

Notice that many people think that these sorts of actions come from the mind when they don’t. “I should go over there and make her feel welcome” comes after your intuition has already pushed you in that direction. Your mind might even push back insisting that she is fine and doesn’t need your help. It is your gut instinct again pushing back saying that you should show empathy.

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Whenever your gut instincts are telling you to be empathetic, it’s a good idea to listen.

5. This Is Special

If you ask anyone about some of the greatest decisions that they have made in their lives, whether it be marrying the right person, jumping at a scary business venture, or deciding to write a book, most people will have the same explanation: it just felt right.

The mind is the perfect tool for making small-scale decisions that only involve a few variables. When it comes to the truly meaningful and life-changing events in this world, intuition is what it’s all about.

The human experience is deeply engrained with a greater sense of ‘knowing’, far beyond what the mind can ever comprehend. This is what people talk about when they say something didn’t really make sense, but it felt right.

It is one of the most important gut instincts to listen to. It symbolizes a potentially pivotal moment in your life. As soon as you notice it, you just have to take the final and most difficult step: will you go against your thinking mind and trust your gut? If you can, you will find joy and happiness beyond your wildest, mind-based dreams.

Conclusion

So there you have it. These aren’t the only gut feelings that you can and will experience in your life – there is a broad spectrum that will gradually open up to you – but these are the most important and noteworthy ones.

If you start to listen to your intuition more and give your thinking mind a back seat role, your life will completely open up to so many amazing possibilities. This is perhaps the best-kept secret of a Life Hack.

More About Trusting Yor Gut Feeling

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

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Daniel Riley

Daniel is a writer who specialises in personal development and helping others become the best version of themselves.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.” – Brian Tracy

“Just do it.” – Nike

The most important and satisfying things in life usually aren’t the easiest ones.

The good news: In today’s hyper-connected world, we have access to all the information we could want to help us achieve our future goals. We know what foods will make us healthier (would kale or quinoa be as popular without the internet and Dr. Oz? I think not). We can also estimate for ourselves the benefits of starting retirement savings early – and the implications for the lifestyles of our future selves (that boat at 65 means fewer vacations in your 20’s).

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We almost always know what we should do thanks to endless knowledge at our fingertips. But actually doing it is an entirely different kind of challenge. Most of us can relate to that feeling of inertia at the start of a big project, or the struggle to consistently make good, long-term choices for our health, or saving for the future. This mental tug-of-war we experience has evolutionary roots. While knowing this might bring comfort, it doesn’t help solve the problem at hand:

How can we flex our willpower to become better, faster, smarter, and stronger?

The bad news: you can’t Google your way out of this one.

Or can you? A fascinating body of research (much of which you can turn up online through popular press and academic articles) sheds light on how to hack your willpower for better, easier results in all areas of your life. The Willpower Instinct, a great book by Stanford prof Kelly McGonigal, provides a deep dive into these and more topics for anyone keenly interested.

Here’s the short version: we can make the most of our willpower through two types of hacks. First, there are ways to turbo boost your willpower. Second, there are ways to hack the system so you make the best use of whatever (sometimes infinitely modest) willpower you have.

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The following 10 tips draw on both of these toolkits.

1. Slow the heck down.

Most regrettable decisions (the splurge at the mall, the procrastination on the project, the snacks in the break room) happen when one part of our brain effectively hijacks the other. We go into automatic pilot (and unfortunately the pilot in question has a penchant for shoes, Facebook and cookies!). Researchers suggest that we can override this system by charging up the other. That is, slow down and focus on the moment at hand. Think about your breathing. Bring yourself back to this moment in time, feel the compulsion but don’t act on it yet. Try telling yourself, “If this feeling is still just as uncomfortable in 10 minutes, I’ll act on it.” Take a little time to be mindful – then make your decision.

2. Dream of ‘done.’

Imagine yourself handing in the big project, soaking up the appreciation from your colleagues or boss. Or crossing the finish line for the half-marathon you’ve always wanted to run. The rush, the aliveness, the wind on your face, the medal …

That’s a lot more fun and motivating to think about than how much work it is to get out of bed for your long, Sunday morning run!

Re-orient your brain by summoning more motivating feelings than just “not running this morning is more enjoyable than running this morning.” If your goals are meaningful, this will help.

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3. Make your toughest choices first.

Scientists have found that willpower is like a full bathtub that’s drained throughout the day. So, why not start your toughest challenges when you have a full reserve? Get that project started or fit that workout in before you even check your email or have breakfast. Bonus: the high you’ll get from crossing off your hardest ‘to-do’ will help you sail through the rest of your day.

4. Progress = commitment, not a license to backslide.

A lot of times people will ‘cheat’ right after taking positive steps towards their goals. (A common version of this trap is, “I worked out three days in a row, so I deserve this cookie.”) Most of us can relate to this thinking – but it’s totally irrational! We’ll often trick ourselves into setbacks because we think we deserve them, even if we don’t really want them and deep down we know they’ll work against us in the long-run.

How can you counteract this effect? Research finds that if you use your positive streak to recommit (“If I worked out three days this week, I must be really committed to my health and fitness goal!”) rather than an excuse for wiggle room, we don’t take the same cheat options. Cool, right?

5. Meditate.

Meditation is an expressway to better willpower. Bringing your attention to your breathing for 15 minutes, or even five, flexes your willpower muscles by applying discipline to your thinking. It does this by working two mental ‘muscle groups’: first, the set of muscles that notice when your attention is drifting, and second, the set of muscles that bring you back to your task at hand. Over time, even small amounts of meditation will help you build the discipline to easily do what was once hard – like pushing through a long stretch at work.

6. Set mini-goals.

Which seems more doable: committing to three 20 minute runs this week or a half-marathon? Mini-goals are brilliant because they’re easier to achieve and boost your commitment to continuing. When we size them up, we see them as achievable rather than daunting. Each time you succeed at one, it boosts your sense of efficacy and personal integrity: not only are you capable of doing what you set out to do, but you followed through on it. Nice.

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The beauty of mini-goals is that over time, mini-goals – and the momentum you’ve built by doing them – can quickly turn into super-goals. So that half marathon might be more likely to happen, and sooner and more easily than you think!

7. Eat.

Low blood sugar decreases your ability to make tough decisions. If you’re running on empty physically, you’ll also be running on empty mentally. (Yes, this one’s somewhat ironic if your goal involves changing food patterns – but even so, letting your blood sugar drop too far will only sabotage you over time.)

8. Sleep.

Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep have a tough time exercising their willpower. Sleep is critical for a healthy brain – along with just about everything else. So to optimize your willpower muscle, make sure you’re catching your zzz’s.

9. Nix the self-sabotage.

Making yourself feel bad hurts, rather than helps, your willpower efforts. Researchers have found that compassion is a far better strategy than tough love – telling yourself “It’s OK, everyone has setbacks sometimes,” will help you bounce back more quickly than negative self-talk.

10. Take the first hard step.

As a new behavior becomes a habit, it is more natural. You have to use less and less willpower to ‘make it so.’ When you’re starting a new pattern that feels hard, remind yourself that the first steps are truly the hardest. It will probably never feel harder than it does in those first few choices. In the case of repeated behaviors, like exercise or saving money, it takes weeks for new habits to take hold. By that point, the habit will be so ingrained, you’d have to try hard not to do it.

Featured photo credit: Kym Ellis via unsplash.com

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