Do you have an inner voice telling you what feels right and what feels wrong? Do you ever just know what to do without always knowing how you know it?
Some people would call that a gut feeling, while others refer to it as intuition, and still, there are those who think of it as a sixth sense. Regardless of what name you have for it, there’s no denying the power of human instinct. These sudden, seemingly unexplainable feelings overcome us when we need them the most, and you can rely on them to help you make the right choice in the heat of the moment (Young, 2012).
Tuning into your intuition and becoming more mindful of your instincts can give you a decisive advantage. Narrowly escaping harm, having a lucky hunch, and knowing what to do or say in the moment – these are just a few of the many examples of how listening to your gut can change your life for the better. Our instincts are manifestations of our subconscious thoughts, and they help us perceive ourselves and the world around us at a much deeper level.
Still, a lot of people find it hard to rely on their instincts, because they allow their fears, doubts, and hesitations to clutter their minds. They ignore their gut reactions and choose to listen to flawed logic instead, which can lead to a lot of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and confusion later on in life (Klein, 2003).
With that said, here are 7 gut feelings you should never ignore:
1. “This is dangerous.”
Does the situation you’re in right now feel unsafe? Does your gut tell you there might be trouble ahead? Do you feel like you should turn back or go the other way? Listen carefully to that feeling. Your instincts can always sense when you’re in danger, and it can help you avoid a lot of potentially dangerous situations. Maybe your inner voice is telling you not to go through with something; or maybe it’s warning you to stay away from a certain someone. Whatever it is, you can always feel it in your gut when something bad is about to happen, so don’t ignore it.
2. “Other people are in danger.”
Not only can your instincts sense when you’re in trouble, but they can do the same for other people and let you know when someone else might be in danger as well. Even if it might not seem like it on the surface, people can hide a lot behind their appearances. Listen to your gut and you just might end up saving another person’s life or keeping them out of harm’s way.
3. “I’m making a mistake.”
Your subconscious may be picking up signs of danger that you can’t immediately perceive, which is why you need to trust it when it tells you something is wrong. Usually, this is strong and distinct feeling of uneasiness, one that’s meant to let you know that what you’re doing isn’t right. Don’t try to reason with it or apply logic to it – if something doesn’t seem right to you, you shouldn’t do it. Though you may not understand it yet, there’s a reason why you’re feeling this way. Your instincts are simply trying to save you from doing something you’ll regret.
4. “I’m not feeling well.”
People who suffer a stroke or a traumatic brain injury often say that, moments before the accident, they sensed that something wasn’t right with them (Kutschera & Ryan, 2009). So if your body doesn’t feel well, don’t wait for it to get worse. Be aware of the signs that something is wrong with you (be it physically, mentally, or emotionally), and don’t be so quick to dismiss your instincts when they tell you you’re not feeling well.
5. “Something’s wrong.”
Your intuition can guide you away from more than just immediate danger. It can also help you steer clear of things that could be harmful to your mental and emotional well being, such as a bad relationship, an incompatible partner, or an unfulfilling career. If you feel off most days, like something’s wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it, then that’s probably your instincts trying to save you from bringing about your own unhappiness. Don’t just shrug it off; get to the root of the problem and let your instincts guide you to the right path.
6. “This is exciting.”
Another gut feeling a lot of us may have, but tend to ignore, is the excitement over an opportunity or a new beginning. We know in our hearts that we are capable of achieving all our hopes and dreams, but at times, we let our fears and insecurities tell us otherwise. When self-doubt creeps in, it masks our excitement with fear and makes us second guess ourselves. If someone offers you a chance that inspires you or excites you, you should go for it! Refuse to be held back by limiting beliefs, and listen to what your gut tells you – though it may be scary, it will certainly be worth it all in the end.
7, “This feels right.”
Last but not the least, you should always listen to your instincts when it comes to knowing what’s right for you. Do you find yourself drawn to someone? Is there something you really want to pursue, no matter the odds? This is your inner voice speaking to you, letting you know that you are where you belong. You feel happy and content because you know, deep down inside, that you’re doing something right. It all comes so easily and effortlessly that you don’t even need to think about it. You just know when you know.
Needless to say, when your gut feeling is trying to communicate something to you, it’s worth listening carefully to. Instincts are often spontaneous and mysterious, but you don’t always need to understand them – just follow them. Clear your head, quiet your fears, and allow yourself to be guided by your inner voice. When you follow your heart and start trusting your gut, everything else will fall into place.
- Young, E. (2012). Gut Instincts: The Secrets of Your Second Brain. New Scientist, 216 (28), 38-42.
- 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.