Sometimes you have an instant notion whether you should do something or not and you can’t put your finger on why; you just know it’s the right choice. That’s your gut instinct or intuition kicking in – your subconscious guiding you.
More often than not, those feelings will guide you along the right path and you’ll be pleased that you followed them. However, it sometimes feels risky to follow our instinct and instead we try to rationalise every aspect of a situation and talk ourselves around to making the opposite choice. Simply because it seems more logical and sensible.
For example, imagine you have an interview for a new job. On paper, everything about it seems great – the pay, the location, the hours – but when you meet your would-be manager, there’s something that doesn’t quite feel right. It’s that sixth sense you have when you meet a person and can tell almost instantly whether you’re going to get along with them or not. If you get a bad feeling about the person you’ll be reporting to, ignore that feeling at your peril, regardless of how tempting the working package might be.
Why Should we Follow our Instinct?
Our intuition springs from the unconscious part of our mind, where we have a lifetime of experience stored away. It’s that information and experience that leads us to make snap – but usually accurate – judgements about how well we’ll get on with someone new. Often we’re subconsciously drawn to those people who remind us of people we have liked in the past. On the other hand, we find ourselves pulling away from those who have similar characteristics to others we have clashed with.
Sometimes, though, your intuition doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. That’s when we try to ignore it – we wish it was saying something else. Instead of accepting that gut feeling, we try to find good reasons why we should do the opposite of what our instinct is telling us. But more often than not, intuition will steer you right.
i) Listen for the first answer to a question you ask yourself. For instance, if you’re thinking of splitting up with your boyfriend, what springs to mind when you say ‘should I end this relationship?’ The most honest answer will be the first one you hear, even though you may mask it with excuses and justifications if you don’t feel comfortable following that gut response.
ii) Test your decision on your body. Make up your mind about something and then see how you feel physically. If the decision is the wrong one, your body will tell you.
iii) Run the decision past someone else. We might confuse wishful thinking with true intuition sometimes. If in doubt, get some fresh perspective on your thoughts from a friend who will be objective, and not just tell you what you want to hear.
iv) Sometimes, with our hurried and stressed lifestyles, it’s difficult to get some space to tune into how you actually feel about something. Using meditation or mindfulness, you can create some space to listen to what your gut instinct is saying and to reflect on how you really feel about it.
If you’re used to fighting your gut feelings, it may take time to adopt this new approach, but give it a try next time you need to make a decision. You may find that the little voice inside you makes a lot of sense.