What is gut instinct or intuition?Jul 19, 2022
What is gut feeling/intuition?
It’s an inner guidance, wiser self or inner knowing. An inner hunch or sixth sense. It’s a gut feeling that we should take a certain action. It’s a calm certainty that moves you into action. It is something we all possess but that many of us have lost the ability to recognise. We can learn this skill and the more we practice the better we get.
Carl Jung describes it as perception via the unconscious.
It’s a deep feeling of knowing, sometimes you don’t how you know but you know you can trust it as it’s often accompanied with a peaceful and easy feeling in the body, clarity of mind and confidence that it’s going to work out for the best, without you needing to force anything. As soon as you take action, It feels like you are have a tail wind helping you move forward, and luck on your side. It’s empowering and motivating and lights you up and when you are then taking the action it feels like you are in flow. You don’t worry about it going wrong. You don’t care what other people think.
Intuition occurs in the present moment, it does not come from past experiences therefore you need to be present to what is, not be listening to voices from the past or what if stories from the future.
The gut is often referred to as the second brain as it contains the second largest number of neurons (100million) outside the brain. Research suggests that people who make decisions from their gut tend to have fewer regrets and feel more confident in their choice.
There is anecdotal evidence that gut instinct can be accurate although it’s often difficult to prove or disprove. Studies at the University of South Wales by Luftyanto et al, proved that we can use unconscious information to make faster and more accurate decisions. They also concluded that intuition can be learned and the more we use it the better we are at it.
Daniel Kahneman wrote Thinking Fast and Slow which studies decision making in two systems in the brain:
System 1 which is fast and intuitive and so is better for anticipating threats, recognising opportunities but is more prone to error.
System 2 which is slower and relies on reasoning but is less susceptible to error.
He points out that decision making ability depends on:
Time pressure, uncertainty, unclear goals, organisational constraints.
Kahneman says we need a blend of intuition and conscious/analytical decision making.
I think it’s like being a jazz musician, you need the skills and knowledge to be able to create in the moment. Or it’s like Sully landing the plane on the Hudson River. He used both his knowledge and his intuition to make the decision.
University of Iowa researched subjects playing a game of chance for money, where there were two piles of cards and one was heavily rigged with bad cards. Within pulling 10 cards, subjects had a physiological response, sweating as they reached for the pile of bad cards). Their feelings worked it out before their mind was consciously aware of it.
Being mindful and having awareness of our body and mind can help us to listen to intuition and trust ourselves to follow it.
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