Do you know what a “gut feeling” is? Have you ever experienced one yourself?
While it’s true that gut feelings are often rooted in instinctive behaviors that we’ve developed as a species to help keep us safe and warn us of possible threats, they are also so much more than just a genetically hard-wired sense of self-preservation. Otherwise known as “intuition”, “hunches”, and “premonition”, according to Psychology, “gut feelings” are the manifestation of our ability to perceive the world through our unconscious and bring forth in us feelings, desires, and ideas we can’t explain through rational thought or reasoning (Sinclar & Ashkanasy, 2005).
Simply put, our gut instincts are a “sixth sense” that help us better understand both the world around and within us. The trouble is, a lot of us have a hard time understanding these gut feelings, what they could mean, and when we should listen to them. So, how do we know which ones are worth heeding and which ones aren’t? Well, with that said, here are 6 examples of gut feelings you should always trust
1. When Someone Isn’t Right For You
Have you ever met someone who, on paper, should be the perfect match for you but isn’t? Maybe they like all the same things as you, have the same principles and beliefs, or come from a similar background. Whatever the reason may be, you know that they’re great and you should be perfectly happy with them (be it romantically or platonically). But for reasons you just can’t explain, you just have a feeling that they’re not right for you; that you’re not really happy with them; that you two just aren’t clicking. And no matter how much you may try to force it or deny it, you know deep down inside that this person is not meant to be in your life forever.
2. When Someone is Deceiving You
Another gut feeling you should start listening to is the instinct that tells you when someone isn’t being completely honest with you or may be hiding some terrible intentions. Have they done anything out of the ordinary lately? Is there something different about the sound of their voice or the way that they talk? Does their body language seem nervous or anxious to you (i.e. fidgety hands, restless walking, unable to maintain eye contact)? The moment you see a red flag pop up, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Your intuition might be onto something, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry (DePaulo & Morris, 2004). You can read more about how to spot these signs in our article, “8 Signs Your Friend is Lying to You.”
3. When Something is Wrong
While it’s certainly true that sometimes our brain can trick us into thinking that we’re in danger when we’re actually not (like feeling stage fright before a big presentation or feeling anxious about an important test), that doesn’t mean it’s not worth listening to from time to time. After all, our gut instincts are born out of humanity’s innate desire to survive and protect ourselves, and evolution has only sharpened these senses and abilities in us as the years go on (Radin & Schlitz, 2005). So, next time you suddenly have a bad feeling that something is wrong, pay close attention to your surroundings. Does there seem to be an accident waiting to happen? Are you presented with an opportunity you feel you’ll regret later on? Really think about it, and you just might save yourself from getting into a lot of trouble.
4. When You Feel Unsafe
One of the most amazing things about the human mind is its ability to pick up on even the most subtle changes and irregularities in our behaviors and surroundings (Klein, 2003). And sometimes we sense these cues but don’t yet have a rational explanation for them, so we tend to interpret them as just hunches or gut feelings. But when you feel unsafe around someone or in a certain situation, don’t take that feeling for granted! Because unfortunately, things can go badly awry very quickly and sometimes we don’t realize the danger we’re in before it’s too late.
5. When You Feel Unwell
Intuition is an incredible gift that allows us to detect the first warning signs that something is wrong with us, so listen to what your mind and body are trying to tell you. Do you feel sudden or chronic pain you can’t explain? Or have shifts in moods for no apparent reason? Physical symptoms (most commonly headaches, chest pain, erratic heart beat, shaky hands, dry mouth, tight throat, and sudden spells of nausea/dizziness) can sometimes manifest as signs that your gut is trying to tell you something (Kutschera & Ryan, 2009)! Are you doing something that’s not good for your body (like skipping sleep or drinking too much) or mind (like overthinking or staying in a toxic relationship)? Your gut will let you know.
6. When You Figure Out What You Want
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, when you feel like you’ve finally figured out what you want or what you need to do, trust your intuition to lead you on the right path! This is what so many people mean when they say “you just know when you know” you’ve made the right choice – whether it’s saying yes to a proposal, switching careers, deciding where to live, or picking a university. Because sometimes, the best and biggest decisions we ever make are done in only a matter of moments, when an unexplainable sense of clarity overcomes us and shows us what we’ve known all along, deep down inside. The trick is simply learning to tap into our intuition and listening to it.
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned on this list? Have you ever experienced any of these familiar feelings before but simply passed it off as nothing? Don’t make the same mistake so many others have and discredit your own intuition. Our instincts and gut feelings can often understand and perceive so much more than our rational minds, and it would be a waste not to tap into that kind of power. And if you liked this article and want to learn more about this topic, we recommend you read our other articles: 7 Gut Feelings You Should Never Ignore, 7 Signs Your Gut is Trying To Tell You Something, and 6 Signs You’re Ignoring Your Intuition.
- Sinclair, M., & Ashkanasy, N. M. (2005). Intuition: myth or a decision-making tool?. Management learning, 36(3), 353-370.
- DePaulo, B. M., & Morris, W. L. (2004). Discerning lies from truths: Behavioural cues to deception and the indirect pathway of intuition. The detection of deception in forensic contexts, 15-40.
- Radin, D. I., & Schlitz, M. J. (2005). Gut feelings, intuition, and emotions: An exploratory study. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 11(1), 85-91.
- Klein, G. A. (2003). Intuition at Work: Why Developing Your Gut Instincts Will Make You Better At What You Do. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 105 (11); 149-163.
- Kutschera, I. & Ryan, M. H. (2009). Implications of Intuition for Strategic Thinking: Practical Recommendations for Gut Thinkers. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 119 (2); 187-194.