Most of us have experienced the sense of knowing things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how. You hesitate at a green light and miss getting hit by a speeding truck. You decide on a whim to break your no-blind-dates policy and wind up meeting your life partner. You have a hunch that you should invest in a little online startup and it becomes Google.
If only you could tap into those insights more often, right?
Turns out you can, especially if you learn to identify which signals to focus on, whether they’re sweaty palms, a funny feeling in your stomach, or a sudden and inexplicable certainty that something is up.
Instinctively just as the animals know when to run from predators, we know how to feed from our mothers and we know when something just feels ‘off’. The problem is when our sixth sense shouts a warning, we don’t always follow our instincts as we think to much.
We are always thinking!
Instincts are a deep twinge or pull towards something buried deep within us, but what they are not is in our heads, instincts are not our thoughts.
Here are a few gut feeling that we shouldn’t ignore.
My body doesn’t feel well.
Your body is a powerful intuitive communicator. If you have a gut feeling about your body listen to it.
Physical symptoms can also have symbolic value. If you’re around somebody and your energy goes down, that’s an intuition not to ignore. Sudden sleepiness can mean that you’re in the presence of an energy-draining person or circumstance; it can be your body’s way of communicating that these conditions are taking more energy than they give. If you stay in a situation that makes you feel instantly depleted (like taking a job after you left the interview feeling exhausted), it can easily lead to a situation where you become depressed, anxious and — not surprisingly — stuck!
You are in danger.
We sometimes question if our natural reaction is justified, am I really in danger, or is my mind overreacting? If you feel like someone is following you, instead of running for the nearest house our mind takes over and we start to think and rationalize, “of course no one is following me.” If something in your gut is telling you you’re being followed, don’t think, act!
Trust your first impressions.
This innate first impression is soon lost to labels – he is a doctor or she is a grandmother. Later you might be shocked to discover that very grandmother was abusing your child at daycare. Why are you so shocked? You already knew something was wrong!
Trust your instincts.
We also need to remember that our minds are tricky, trusting your sixth sense is not implying that you should walk around with guarded suspicion of everyone you meet. Do what you can to protect yourself from the harmful actions of others without fabricating instincts that really aren’t there.
Is your gut reaction coming from your mind or from the core of your being?
Another common mistaken belief is that trusting your instincts is ‘judging a book by its cover.’ It is significantly different, your instincts do not form an opinion of someone based on social status or looks.
I need to help this person.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a moment to help someone in need, even if they’re a stranger. If it’s cold out and you see a poor woman without a jacket, you have plenty at home, right? You could give her yours. Or a hat and mittens if you have an extra set. If you come across a homeless boy who needs to eat and you have leftovers, what’s the harm in giving them away?
If you see someone broken down by the side of the road, there’s nothing wrong with stopping to see if they need a hand. Moreover, if you feel like you should help someone, do it! Our culture programs empathy out of us, but each positive action has a ripple effect in our world.
This feels right.
Blindly following your passion may not always make sense, but understanding when something you’re doing or someone you’re with makes you feel right is an important thing to do. It’s important not to disregard the feeling that something is just so right.
Having said all of the above, there are some mental disorders that result in paranoia or create hypochondriac tendencies, but let’s not confuse this or analyze it too much. Take this at face value knowing that of course there are exceptions, but under normal circumstances we need to listen to our gut instinct.
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