What Is A Gut Instinct?
Your gut instinct is the physical reaction that your body is carrying out as a primal response to subconscious information. It is a response you get to the world around and inside of you. The ultimate purpose of your gut instinct (the most ancient and primal “sixth sense” you have) is to protect you and that is why it is the one you can truly rely on. These are our primal impulses and evolutionary origins of our truly animal core…we are, after all, human animals.
As noted by anthropologist Clifford Geertz:
“… man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.”
Which means that even though we now read the news paper and wipe our bums with toilet paper, that doesn’t mean we’re not an animal anymore. We are amazingly fortunate , advanced animals who by honoring the wisdom of the subconscious mind, and its impact on the body to produce ‘gut instinct’, can save ourselves from a lot of suffering. (Believe it or not, this has been scientifically proven.)
How Does The Gut Instinct Work?
Think of your body like a television screen on which your subconscious (the radio waves) transmits its information. If you can learn to read your body than you can learn to accurately tune in to your gut instinct. Some people call it a “hunch,” others an “inkling,” but whatever you name it, it’s all the same thing – the built-in clue signal.
What’s the Difference Between Gut Instinct and Intuition?
Gut instinct and intuition are interconnected and often used synonymously but they aren’t quite the same – gut instinct is your primal wisdom while intuition is your spiritual wisdom. If we are to walk our spiritual paths with courage and intelligence, we need both of them equally. Generally, both are clearly discernible and strikingly different in their experience.
- Intuition is very cerebral – it is a calm and clear sense of “knowing.” It can be expressed through the body. It is more neutral and calm.
- Gut instinct is very visceral and physical – you feel it in your body. It can be expressed through intuitive knowing. It is much more emotional and reactive because it is wired in the primal brain.
What Does A Gut Instinct Feel Like?
It is vital you don’t ignore these signs. You might experience all of them at once, or only one or two of them. Anyway, pay close attention to them as they indicate you are experiencing a gut instinct.
- A sudden feeling of dread or fear – and it usually seems out of context
- A strong urge (like an inner nudge or pull) to do something
- Goosebumps or “tingles” and full-body chills up the spine
- Nausea or physical uneasiness
- Sudden hyper-vigilance (aka being on “high alert”) which can be mistaken for paranoia
- A clear and firm voice within you that instructs you to do/not do something
Is It Your Gut Instinct Or Fear You Are Feeling?
It is easy to confuse the two since, chances are, you were never taught about the difference between superficial mental fears and true gut instinct. We can easily be fooled by our own mind. It is especially difficult to differentials fear from gut instinct because both cause us to feel emotions within our body. When you get scared, you most likely get clammy hands, butterflies, and an increase in heart rate. When you experience a gut instinct, there are similar physical sensations.
To distinguish between the two you have to pay attention to your mind. If your thoughts have your mind racing, frantic, chaotic, vague, nagging, unclear, or tumultuous then you are experiencing fear. If your mind is relatively neutral, but your body is experiencing strong reactions (For example, a sense of impending doom) then you are experiencing a gut instinct. So to know if what you feel is fear or a gut instinct just turn your attention to your how your mind is behaving, not your body.
Because a gut instinct is spontaneous. It pops up out of nowhere. It doesn’t have enough time to build-up in the brain and brew into the chaos that is confusion – so the mind is still relatively still and neutral. Your thoughts haven’t ventured into the “hmm, should I? Shouldn’t I?” territory yet. All you are experiencing is an immediate “do! / Don’t do!” reaction.
Gut Instincts Feelings
The following nagging sensations should never be ignored or doubted:
“I’m in danger”
You may not yet be able to pinpoint what exactly the danger is, but nevermind that. Remember that your gut instincts reflect what your subconscious mind already knows. This inner warning could be the difference between life and death.
“They’re in danger”
If you do stop something devastating from happening, because it never happens you may just end up looking like a crazy person, it might even be embarrassing, but again, nevermind. Don’t let that stop you from helping so done out if you genuinely feel they are in danger. You’re probably preventing the person from making a big mistake or endangering themselves.
“This isn’t the right choice”
There may not even be a moral or logical reason why you should be feeling that way…nevermind! Pay attention to your gut if you get a strong and clear feeling that what you’re doing isn’t right and do as you shouldn’t.
“I need help”
Your gut instinct also helps to preserve your emotional wellbeing. You may get an urging sensation that you need help. It could be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Whatever it is, don’t think you can solve the issue on your own – go ahead and seek out the assistance you need.
“I need to help them”
On the outside the person will most likely appear fine. Yet, you will feel an overwhelming desire to help them without any rational reason why. If anything, at least have conversation with the person. That way, no matter what you will make the person feel special…and at the most you could potentially save their lives.
“Something feels off in my body”
Your body is very intuitive to it’s condition and therefore it’s state of your health. If you have a sudden strong and clear desire arises to see a medical professional, go do it. Get a full health assessment because it’s better to be safe than sorry. If nothing comes up, then great! It’s good to practice self-care anyways.
“This is it!”
Not all gut instincts warn you of something bad. There are times when you’ll get a strong and clear feeling that practically screams “YES”! Listen to it. It is your gut instinct notifying you about a perfect life calling, spiritual path, job, house, decision, option, etc. comes along. Following through with this yes could be the difference between making a life-fulfilling choice and a soul-starving decision.