Everyone’s heard the saying, “trust your gut.” But what is your “gut?” And how do you know when to listen to it? These uncertainties often confound the truth of the phrase, making it more confusing than helpful. In this article, we hope to clear up some of the confusion.
Challenging experiences can easily result in visceral, reflex-like internal reactions. This happens when a situation reads as a threat to your nervous system, resulting in an immediate neurological and hormonal response. Many people consider this to be equivalent to the term “your gut.” But, in reality, this visceral reflex does not know the truth of a situation. It is only the product of a programmed physiological reaction.
Thus, it takes time to see past the immediate squeezy gut feeling, and look towards your inner guide instead. Each person is equipped with innate wisdom—the ability to see each situation with perfect clarity and accurately decipher truth from the non-truth. This is the true meaning of “your gut.” But unfortunately, it’s voice isn’t quite as obvious as the butterflies in your stomach, or the pounding in your chest.
Listening to your internal guide is a skill that can be difficult to cultivate. But if it’s something you’d like to pursue, the first step is learning how to trust yourself. These days, self-trust is often dependent on external affirmation—how many likes a social media post gets, or the validation of a friend group. But relying on the external for self-trust will never facilitate it. It will never allow you to fully harness the inner wisdom that exists inside of you.
Next time you’re struggling with a difficult decision, take a few, slow deep breaths to come back to your center. Instead of immediately consulting a friend, spend some time in silence, working to completely quiet all mental chatter. Once you can fully hear silence, gently bring back up the decision in question. Notice what answer immediately arises. Most of the time, this is the right one—your gut feeling.