Gut feeling, intuition, ESP, sixth sense, clairvoyance, … we have assigned so many words to that intangible, indescribable, and indeterminable feeling.
Many of us rely on it and take advantage of it knowingly and unknowingly all our lives. However, when we come right down to thinking about it, we are ready to ignore it as pseudo-science.
What is a gut feeling? How does it work? How reliable is it? Should you always trust your gut feeling in relationships?
When you start thinking about intuition, its accuracy, authenticity, and trustworthiness, our minds get deluged by doubts and queries.
This article attempts to find the truth behind the gut instinct and answers the tricky question of whether trusting your gut feeling about someone is right.
What is a gut feeling?
The gut feeling meaning according to the dictionary is “an instinctive feeling, without any logical rationale” or “feeling you believe without evidence”.
It is your insight or instinct regarding a choice you need to make. It tells you what to do without offering any clear reasoning or hard evidence.
These unexplained feelings are called so because of the undeniable link between your brain/mind and stomach/gut. Have you heard about butterflies in the stomach or that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach?
Whenever you feel intense emotions, it becomes evident as gastrointestinal discomfort. Anxiety, fear, stress, and depression translate to nausea, stomach pain, or cramps. Thus, the origin of the word.
However, intuition need not always show up as a stomach-related disorder. Goosebumps, tingling, prickly sensations, and sweaty palms are all signs of our sixth sense. Or it need not have an accompanying physical sign at all. It can be a flash of clarity, can pop up in your thoughts, or can be experienced as a feeling.
Should you trust your gut feelings?
It is true that you experience these signs of intuition. The million-dollar question is how accurate and reliable they are.
To understand this, you need to know more about how we get these insights.
Though it is not proven and authenticated information, experts in the field have come up with possible theories to explain how we experience intuitions.
The best and most plausible of all explanations goes something like this.
As you go through your daily lives, the brain collects, stores, and processes data from your environment. While some of this data is recorded in your conscious mind, the rest gets registered in your subconscious mind.
The information stored in the conscious mind is easily accessible to us and we use it to make logical decisions. However, the data in the subconscious mind comes out as insights or intuitions.
Another explanation is also based on the role of the subconscious mind. Everything we have experienced in our lives from birth is stored in our mind – some in the conscious mind and the rest in the subconscious mind. Intuition is a prediction based on previous experiences.
This means memories that you are not aware of or can recall show up in your conscious mind as intuition or gut feeling. It is a message or a warning sent by the subconscious mind to your conscious self.
So, all these lead us to the obvious answer. Gut feeling in its pure form is reliable and accurate. There is no harm if you go with your gut feeling without questioning.
However, often your emotions get mixed up with intuitions and end up distorting them. For example, wishful thinking. When you are wishing for something fervently, you mistake your daydreams for a gut feeling.
Or else, you may project your previous experience in the present situation and arrive at the wrong conclusion.
Often your lack of experience can set you back regarding intuitions. With no or limited data at hand to use, your gut feelings may be off the mark.
Related: How to Know If Your Gut Feeling is Right.
How to make your gut feeling more accurate?
In the absence of a logical answer or if the intuition outweighs logic, you tend to fall back on intuition to know what is right and wrong. However, there will be situations when intuitions and logical conclusions clash.
This tussle is hard to deal with. Choosing between logic and gut feeling is not an easy one. Each comes with its pluses and minuses and both are not perfect.
You can improve your intuitive skills to make your gut feeling more accurate. And, knowing how to keep emotions out of your intuition can make them precise and error-free.
Heed your mind:
Untainted intuition is accompanied by a host of positive feelings. Such as light-heartedness, joy, affinity, clarity, wonderment, excitement, stimulation, accomplishment, and more.
However, the gut feeling mixed up with emotions does not evoke any of these feelings in you. If you look for it, you will spot the lack of joy or excitement. Or when you are misinterpreting your experiences, it may make you feel anxious and fearful, or your heart may feel heavy. Look out for these tell-tale signs to know whether your intuition is pure.
Mind calming or focusing techniques:
Meditation and similar methods to help your mind to focus on the task at hand can help in getting your intuitions right. Mindfulness or living in the moment is a highly recommended practice for achieving this.
When your mind is calm and focussed, you will be able to keep your emotions in check and prevent it from interfering with your gut feeling.
Eliminating wrong memories:
As mentioned earlier, gut feeling is based on the memories stored in our conscious and subconscious minds. You may have accumulated incorrect memories for various reasons. As long as they remain in your mind, they will interfere with your intuitive abilities.
Revisiting your memory bank and analyzing them for their correctness is the need of the hour. You may ask these questions to check their veracity.
- Is this actually from my past?
- Or did I form this memory based on external influences?
- Are my fears and worries influencing my memory?
- Or is it something I really want to happen?
You may form memories based on what you hear from someone or see somewhere. And this need not have any connection with you. When you rely on such memories for your intuitions, naturally they will be flawed.
Is it right to trust your gut feeling about someone?
We tend to rely on our gut feeling to know whether to trust a stranger. We do this both voluntarily or involuntarily. This is how our brain is wired.
When we meet someone unfamiliar, we need to decide if we want to continue the acquaintance and allow it to develop into a friendship or relationship. Then rely on this voice in our heads to make a decision.
Our gut feeling about someone will be based on past experiences in similar situations as the person is not known to us and so we do not have any information about them. Or maybe from the information gathered in the short period we have known them.
The question here is how accurate and reliable this feeling is. And how to listen to your intuition in relationships. As it is not backed up by hard facts and solid data, there is always that nagging feeling of doubt in the back of your mind.
When the gut feeling is based on your own past experiences, there is always that margin of error you need to account for. Just because five of your past relationships failed doesn’t necessarily mean that this one would.
Maybe it is time you dig deeper for the reason for the failures and make adjustments in your attitude rather than follow your gut to push away strangers who show interest in you.
Or if you are bringing in emotions and mixing them up with your intuitions, there is a higher probability of it being wrong. You need to learn how to keep them separate. And should be able to identify when your intuitions are not pure.
There is no harm in trusting your gut feeling about someone you recently met. Whether you want it or not, your inner voice is going to tell you this anyway. It is up to you to accept the suggestion or not. Before you trust your instincts, make sure that it is coming from the right place and there are no red flags up.
You may face situations when your intuitions give your conflicting suggestions. Then it is clear that you are dealing with emotion-tainted intuitions. In such situations, try to gain more focus and clarity of mind.