Why you can trust your gut

Make logical sense of your instincts


You know when you know it.

There is no denying it: We’ve all had those unexplainable gut instincts.

And we’ve all said in hindsight, “I had a gut feeling!”’ or “I just knew it in my gut!”

Fortunately, behavioral modeling researcher Marvin Oka has now helped us make sense of this gut knowing. He suggests we have three “brains,” a head brain, a heart brain and a gut brain. These three brains interact as a dynamic intelligence, passing information through the vagus nerve, which acts as a superhighway of information from our primitive gut brain, through our heart brain to our head brain, which ultimately puts the pieces of the puzzle together for us. 

Our three brains operate from three different “nervous systems:”

Our head brain: Gives us reasoning through our autonomic nervous system;

Our heart brain: Gives us emotions through our intrinsic nervous system;

Our gut brain: Gives us intuition through our enteric nervous system. 

Not capable of “thought” as we know it, our gut brain sends neurotransmitters and hormones to our head brain to communicate what feels right to us, or not. Our gut brain contains 100 million neurons. Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and nitric oxide are in the gut.

  We cannot trust our mind alone to guide us, as our head brain includes the sympathetic nervous system, which propels us into the “fight or flight” response. This fight and flight response can create feelings of aggravation when we feel under stress. This causes us to at times move forward with blinders on. Other times, we are crippled by self-doubt and fear we don’t see the possibilities right in front of us. Making decisions from our head brain alone can therefore often lead to impulsivity or analysis paralysis.

On the other hand, when we don’t consider our heart brain, we may make logical decisions that make sense to others, but we are not considering what we value and love. In these cases, these decisions just don’t “feel” right to us. Even if we do reach our goal, it is meaningless and unfulfilling. 

And finally, when we don’t listen to our gut brain, we miss cues at the tip of the iceberg that alert us to stop and pay attention. Ignoring these hunches creates crisis management. In hindsight, we look back and say, “I had a gut feeling, but just ignored it!” Because it was “just a gut feeling” we didn’t have logical proof and ignored the cues warning us to pay attention.

When we learn to work with this symbiotic relationship among the gut, heart and mind, we tap into what I call in my ALIGN program, “Gut Intelligence.” Gut Intelligence is the symbiotic relationship among the gut brain, heart brain and head brain. This relationship is fostered through our awareness of those subtle signals in our gut. When we feel that twinge, that ache, that excitement and knowing, we must S.T.O.P. and get more conscious of what we knew unconsciously.

A client of mine recently used my techniques in hiring. A candidate looked perfect on paper, but when he tapped into his Gut Intelligence, he became aware of subtle signals he was concerned about. This led him to follow his gut and ask questions to dig deeper to validate what he sensed.  He was happy he did, because he found this person was not a match for his culture, even though he had the skills to meet the job description.

Using my S.T.O.P. Technique will help you to increase your Gut Intelligence. It works like this:

Slow down and breathe;

Tune in to your awareness of what is happening inside you;

Observe what is happening around you;

Perceive a new possibility by asking your head brain one powerful question,

“How might I makes sense of what my gut is telling me?” 

This question sends a signal to your head brain to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It tells your unconscious reasoning to make logical sense of what you primitively knew.

Challenge: When did you have a gut knowing? Did you S.T.O.P to listen to it? What was it telling you to do or say?

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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 Susan@BIZremedies.com, (262) 696-6856 or visit her website www.BIZremedies.com for more details.

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