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5 Gut Instincts You Don’t Want to Ignore

5 Gut Instincts You Don’t Want to Ignore

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

More by this author

Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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