How Gut Intuition Works
Call it instinct, gut intuition, gut feeling, vibes or whatever you like, fact is, there is something inside us that tells us the important information we need to know when evaluating and decision making.
When you meet people you get an instinctual gut feeling about them. When you are wondering whether you should go to that event, you get a gut feeling about whether you should. When you walk into a room, you get a gut feeling about the atmosphere. When you’re making decisions about hiring, firing or other business matters… you get a gut feeling.
Whilst research into the workings of gut intuition is as yet limited, the fact that it exists is quite undeniable. I bet everyone reading this can think of a time when they thought to themselves:
- I knew I shouldn’t have gone, or
- I should have listened to that voice inside my head, or
- Why didn’t I follow my gut instinct?
Why didn’t you follow your “hunch”? Was it because it felt irresponsible to make such a snap decision? Was it because you didn’t give yourself enough credit to be right on the mark with your intuition? For a lot of people, it’s a bit of both.
The final chapter of my book does go into a lot more detail about this but I will impart some of the wisdom here right now.
Research conducted by Voss and Paller (2009) supports the notion that intuition does exist and that it works by tapping into memories that are embedded within our brains at a more subconscious level, rather than at a conscious level. Add to that the fact that the research by the Institute of HeartMath has conducted groundbreaking research that suggests that the heart stores its own memories and influences the organs of the human body, and we begin to see how this gut intuition may well be the result of an analysis of the stored information we are carrying within us at all times. Pretty incredible, right?
So, the question that people often ask me is, “Sam, how do I learn to use my gut instinct?”
If you do the following, you too can utilise your gut feeling to make the right business decisions as well as the right life decisions.
1. Trust yourself. Give yourself credit. Understand that gut intuition exists, regardless of whether we currently know exactly how it works.
2. Clear the noise in your head, the noise that gives you several different options. Do what it takes to relax yourself and quiet your mind of distractions.
3. Very often it’s the very first answer that pops into your head. That answer will sometimes flash through your mind like a bolt of lightning and can feel detached from your thinking process. It’s the answer that seems to pop into your head before you’ve even finished asking yourself the question!
4. Use physiological signs to establish how you feel about each possible option. For example, let’s assume you need to choose between following courses of action ‘x’, ‘y’, or ‘z’. What you do is mentally consider each option separately. As you consider each possible course of action, pay attention to the sensations you feel within your body. Two of the three options will trigger one type of feeling, usually a form of tension, whilst the other option will induce another sensation, usually a relaxed one. The existence or absence of tension or relaxed physiological states, are key indicators as to which option is the right option for you.
Based on the aforementioned research of Voss and Paller, this may well be linked to the brain’s (and maybe heart’s) scan of the information we have stored within our memory, with the physiological response being formed in response to these stored memories. In other words, the body may be reacting to the collective information stored within memory.
Therefore, pay attention to the physiological signs you receive when considering each option available to you when decision making. Does the area around your chest feel tighter? Do your back, neck and shoulders feel tense or relaxed? Does your scalp tighten or feel relaxed? Is your breathing rate accelerating or declining? There are many other physiological responses that you could note and those that are your tell-tale signs are specific to you. Discover which of your body’s signals signpost you towards making the right business decisions.
5. Use physical responses to understand which decision is the right one. Very similar to acknowledging your physiological signs, your physical indicators will also direct you towards the right decision. As you consider each possible option you are presented with, you may notice that you begin fidgeting or start tapping your foot or clench your fist tighter. All of these could represent anxiety about the specific option that you are in that moment considering. Again, finding the tell-tale signs that are unique to you is something you will learn to do over time.
6. Assess your results to build further confidence and self-belief and if it’s not working for you (yet) then you’re not doing it right. The good news is, you can make it work for you and if you want some help, drop me an email and I’ll do my best to help you further.
7. Use some common sense when applying the above six tips for tuning into your gut intuition. If you’re feeling tense about something, decipher if it’s due to your anxiety about doing something you don’t feel comfortable doing (e.g. public speaking) or due to the option being fraught with problems (e.g. you don’t have enough time to prepare and would fare better by passing the opportunity on this occasion).
This is such an exciting topic to learn about and such an exhilarating way to make correct decisions in all areas of life. I’d love to hear about your success stories with this so please add them to the comments box below.