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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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