Slow down and breathe

Become more clear, calm and confident in your decision making

While we have embraced IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Intelligence), it’s time to understand what GQ (Gut Intelligence) really is and how it is equally as important as IQ and EQ.

Gut Intelligence is not trusting your gut alone. It is the ability to create a superhighway of information between the gut, heart and head so that these “brains” collaborate with one another like an effective board of directors. When we listen to the input of each, we notice our gut alerts, listen to our heart to align us to our vision, values and goals—and engage our head-brain to help us choose that just right solution.

Science now tells us the vagus nerve links our gut to our heart and head together. Some call this the gut-brain axis. The problem is most of us impede this Gut Intelligence when we run around in a busy beta brainwave state, trying to get all our tasks done. Our rapid breathing from rushing shuts down the bridge in our brain (corpus callosum), closing off this connection between our gut, heart and head. As a result, the neurotransmitters, neurons and hormones from our gut cannot send a message to our head-brain to assimilate what it unconsciously knows. When we do not listen to this ping in our gut, we end up with anxiety. Foggy thinking is a byproduct of anxiety; whereas being clear, calm and confident is the byproduct of tapping into our Gut Intelligence.

To increase your Gut Intelligence, use the S.T.O.P. Technique. This technique will help you to slow down, breathe into your gut, and shift from a beta to alpha brainwave state of mind. The alpha brainwave opens the corpus callosum, creating a pathway for the gut and heart to communicate with the head. When you breathe deeply and focus on one simple clarity question, such as: “Hmm…isn’t that interesting? I wonder what is happening here?” your head-brain can synthesize the information, giving you that “a-ha” feeling—a heightened awareness where you just know!

S.T.O.P. Technique:

Slow down and breathe: Breathe three times at the chest, heart and then into your gut. Breathe slowly and evenly, in your nose and out your mouth.

Tune in within: Ask a problem-solving question such as, “How might I make a wise choice to help me align to my vision, values and goals, given the facts at hand?”

Observe what is happening within you: Pause at each one of these information centers within to listen to your wisdom:

  • Check into your gut (look down and ask: what do I know for sure?)
  • Check into your heart (how do I feel and what is it that I ultimately want)?
  • Check into your head-brain (what is it telling me to do or say to align to my vision, values and goals)?

Perceive the best possibility: Check in and ask yourself your focused question again, “How might I make a wise choice to help me align to my vision, values and goals, given the facts at hand?”

While increased Gut Intelligence will make you more clear, calm and confident in your decision making, you can quickly shut down your Gut Intelligence when you see a truth you don’t like.

Our fears – based on our attachments to our needs for safety, security, love and belonging – get threatened when reality is not as we hoped. Until we can learn to detach from our desired outcomes and believe we can create a positive reality, we will slip back into denying our Gut Intelligence once again. When this happens, practice the 3 Steps to Increase Gut Intelligence below to transform your fear and find your wisdom once again.

The 3 Steps to Increased Gut Intelligence are:

  1. Own it: Own the fear that is blocking your wisdom. What is it?
  2. Ask it: Ask your wisdom to help you see the truth about your situation.
  3. Voice it: Now ask your wisdom how you can speak the truth in a loving manner or do what you need to do to be aligned to your vision, values and goals.

We’ve all had experiences where our gut knew something was off. When we dismiss this inner knowing, we often end up with devastating proof glaring in our face. In hindsight, we look back and can see the cues we ignored. When you practice increasing your Gut Intelligence, however, you have the wisdom to know the truth and the guts to do something about it.

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Susan K. Wehrley is an executive coach and business consultant that aligns executives and businesses to their vision, values and goals. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes. You can email Susan at, (262) 696-6856 or visit her website for more details.