There is something powerful in our intuitive response—consider “fight or flight.” If you happen upon a tiger in the wild (sure what are the chances, but still), there may not be a substantial amount of time to really think about how to deal with an impending attack. Rather your gut screams: “Run!”

In the highly technological world in which we live, the brain rules. Thought, for many, reigns supreme. In fact, research has shown how over-thinking or “self-rumination” is often associated with serious psychological conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and Depression in what is sometimes called “the paralysis of analysis.” [1] Yet, emotions are not often acts of cognition, rather they sometimes seem to just come over us unexpectedly. Our reaction to the tiger example is not really an act of will, or a choice to be afraid.

Many people report that they experience feelings that are influenced by something they cannot explain—this is often referred to as “gut feelings.” Among other things, gut feelings are seem to be more like an almost intuitive “knowing” that may be experienced on an unconscious level. Since the Enlightenment, intuitive feelings have been held inferior to reason and logic and yet many would agree there undoubtedly exists a knowing without thinking. How many times have you just felt there was something wrong about someone or some situation? A little jolt that speaks to you perhaps?

In looking more closely at the intelligence of the gut, research has found that although the GI tract’s primary responsibility it to digest and absorb, it is SO much more than just a processing plant. The gut has an intelligence all its own—one that may even rival the brain. The gut is the only organ system in the body that contains an intrinsic nervous system—able to function independently of any input or instructions from the brain or spinal cord. [2]  For this reason, the gut has been hailed as the “second brain.”  It is even arguable which “brain” holds more influence. Ask yourself, how difficult it is to think when experiencing stomach problems like cramps or constipation?

Just consider that there is value in your gut feelings and intuition. If your gut is speaking to you, maybe it’s trying to relay information not to be ignored. It isn’t that you should ignore data or dismiss cognitive and logical processing – simply consider if what you are feeling doesn’t sit right, maybe it deserves some reconsideration.

References

[1] Gigerenzer, Gerd. Gut Feelings: the Intelligence of the Unconscious. New York: Viking, 2007. Print.
[2] Gershon, Michael D. The Second Brain: the Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1998. Print.

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