Instincts are not some weird mystical power that are only found in the animal kingdom.
Gut instincts are defined as: an innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli.
We are born with instincts to help us survive. As much as we may pretend we are not, we are very much animals; why do we try to deny this?
That is not to say that we aren’t incredibly smart or that we aren’t capable of complex thinking. But even though we are very intelligent, our minds are also very clever and like to try to trick us.
Instinctually we know when to run from predators; when we are babies, we know how to feed from our mothers and we know when something just feels ‘off’. The problem is when our sixth sense shouts a warning, we stall and we think.
We are always thinking!
Instincts are a deep twinge or pull towards something buried deep within us, but what they are not is in our heads; instincts are not our thoughts. Let’s try to find our way back to our basic survival skills. Here are just a few punches in the gut we shouldn’t ignore.
1. You are in danger
We sometimes question if our natural reaction is justified; am I really in danger, or is my mind overreacting? If you feel like someone is following you, instead of running for the nearest house our mind takes over and we start to think and rationalize, “of course no one is following me.” If something in your gut is telling you you’re being followed, don’t think, act! This can apply to health problems as well. If your gut instinct tells you something is wrong, listen to it.
Having said this, there are some mental disorders that result in paranoia or create hypochondriac tendencies, but let’s not confuse this or analyze it too much. Take this at face value knowing that of course there are exceptions, but under normal circumstances we need to listen to our gut instinct.
2. Trust your first impressions
Have you ever had a knee jerk first impression that something is just ‘off’ about someone. This innate first impression is soon lost to labels; he is a doctor or she is a grandmother. Later you might be shocked to discover that very grandmother was abusing your child at daycare. Why are you so shocked? You already knew something was wrong!
Trust your instincts.
We also need to remember that our minds are tricky; trusting your sixth sense is not implying that you should walk around with guarded suspicion of everyone you meet. Do what you can to protect yourself from the harmful actions of others without fabricating instincts that really aren’t there.
Is your gut reaction coming from your mind or from the core of your being?
Another common mistaken belief is that trusting your instincts is ‘judging a book by its cover.’ It is significantly different; your instincts do not form an opinion of someone based on social status or looks.
3. Am I making the right life decision
On another level your sixth sense might be urging you to reconsider where you are in life. The signs might be more subtle than the flashing, red siren of a masked man following you but if you pay attention they are quietly telling you something feels off. Maybe you’re going against the flow of where you should be in your career or relationship. Often we go against the grain, we don’t listen to our gut. The problem is that if we aren’t in the right place – following our values and needs – we can’t be happy.
Why don’t we listen?
4. This feels comfortable, just right
Whether it’s your job, partner, a life decision, where you live or who your friends are, when things feel comfortable, don’t fight it, smile and relax into the fact that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
When it comes to big life decisions, we tend to over think and over analyze. This just leads to confusing the situation, and we can often make poor, fear-based decisions. Instead of following your initial instinct, you mull things over and often make decisions based out of fear of making the wrong decision, which in fact can lead you to making the wrong decision.
5. Doing something you’re comfortable with
When you are comfortable with something, whether it be your job, a musical interest, photography or sports, it’s important to trust your innate reflexes in that area. If you know you can do it, trust your gut, not your head. Once we get in our heads, we often choke. Look at athletes; they often will miss a shot entirely, all because they got stuck in their heads.
When you’re in the groove of playing the piano, let the notes passionately fly from your fingers, but stay out of your head.
Developing your instincts might take some work. After all, we have been repressing our natural state of being for a long time now.
Meditation is a great tool to learn to tap into your inner voice, quiet incessant thinking, and experience your pure, natural energy.
“Practice meditation, meditation will give you the habits to allow space and clarity in to your life to allow you to recognize your instincts buried under all that thinking. Tune In: You may be able to better follow your heart (and your sweat glands) by practicing meditation. A 2005 study found that in meditators, brain regions associated with sensitivity to the body’s signals and sensory processing had more gray matter. The greater the meditation experience, the more developed the brain regions.” ~ Oprah.com
Let’s enjoy some silence so that we can help that small voice trapped deep inside of us come to the surface. We might not be able to taste, touch, smell, listen or see our sixth sense, but it’s at the core of all of us.