No one I know is not familiar with the term “gut feeling.” We have all had moments in our lives where the centre area of our body (called the ‘hara’ in Japanese Martial Arts) has given us feelings that could be interpreted as intuitive nudges.
These intuitive feelings can arise as tightness or tension in the gut, pain, nausea, spasms, butterflies in the stomach, or even a sinking feeling.
The Gut as the Second Brain
The gut has been called the second brain because of the countless neurons that connect the brain to the enteric nervous system lining the digestive tract, which controls the gastrointestinal system. This intimate connection is often referred to as “the gut-brain connection.” This gut-brain connection is the engine of our gut feelings.
There is constant decoding of one’s present-moment situation and the environment by one’s brain and senses. This decoding process of non-verbal information occurs at a subconscious level.
These unconscious observations are not brought to conscious awareness through imagery or words, but through a human, embodied cognition signalled to our consciousness as a feeling, feelings, or physical sensation usually within the centre of one’s body. This feeling is an unconscious prediction based on experience.
One may wonder if true intuitive gut feelings could be easily mistaken for feelings of anxiety or even paranoia. The answer is no. Anxiety is similar to an instinctive gut feeling in its physical manifestation, but the cause is different. Anxiety seems to be constantly alert for potential threats and a blanket fear in its structure. Also, anxiety is vague in its focus and desired action.
Gut feelings, on the other hand, are specific in their scope and nudging toward action-specific, situation-specific, person-specific nudgings to act. Gut feelings have clear directions and pass once the action or decision to act is achieved.
Paranoia is another thing entirely. Paranoia is not based on reality or facts.
We may ask when is a gut feeling most useful? There are four situations when gut feelings are of great importance and great help.
These situations are as follows:
- When you need a quick decision.
- When you need to trust your body’s needs.
- When you are missing some or all of the vital information.
- You’re not lusting after a specific result, and you have clarity and detachment.
Gut feelings are real, not woo-woo, and science confirms this fact. Trust your gut!