Gut instinct is our intuition. It’s being able to understand something immediately, without any conscious reasoning. No pro-con lists, no asking friends for guidance — you just know.
We are all born intuitive. Some of us will trust our intuition more than others and, consequently, nurture it more.
Sadly, part of our modern social conditioning has been to deem intuition and gut feelings untrustworthy; instead, we tend to embrace a more left-brain, logical approach to thinking. Thanks to this, our intuitive process is diminished.
Luckily, our intuition is so deeply instinctual that even if we’ve been out of touch with it for our entire lives, it’s still there inside of us, waiting for us to summon its wisdom.
Dr. Deepak Chopra is a neuroendocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the study of brain chemistry. For years he has studied the connection between our consciousness and physical body. What he and his colleagues have found is that our gut is actually its own nervous system that is potentially more powerful than our central nervous system. Not only can every cell in our bodies think, they also have a strong memory to tap into to help us make decisions.
Chopra says, “If you say ‘I have a gut feeling about something,’ you’re not speaking metaphorically, you’re speaking literally. Your gut makes the same chemicals that your brain makes when it thinks.”
Chopra explains — in a very scientific way — that a gut feeling is actually every cell in your body making a decision.
The best part is that the nervous system in our gut doesn’t have the ability to doubt itself like our central nervous system does.
When the cognitive mind is busy, it overrides the intuitive right brain and the subconscious mind, the home of intuition. Learning to quiet down this superficial "monkey" mind layer is the key to unlocking your deeper, far more powerful subconscious mind.
When you're sleeping, your cognitive mind rests and opens space for the subconscious mind to signal you in dreams. But apart from sleep, what else can we do to reconnect with our gut instinct? Here’s the part that I find most fascinating.
Engaging Your 5 Senses Will Lead You to Your 6th
Stimulating any one of your five senses will sharpen and hone your sixth sense — gut instinct.
Heightening our sense of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste will bring us closer and more in tune with the sixth, gut instinct.
1. Smell: Inhale strong scents every day.
Smelling powerful scents on a daily basis engages receptors in your nose, improving your sense of smell.
Smell freshly ground coffee beans before making your morning brew. Freshly cut oranges are one of my favorites, as well.
2. Sound: Listen to music.
Science confirms that humans are hardwired to respond to music.
You can sharpen your sense of hearing by listening to music, especially alternating genres with elements that are clearly distinct from one another.
3. Sight: Exercise your eyes.
Take photos from as many different vantage points as possible. Get your hands on a set of binoculars and head to a local park. Pick up a magnifying glass and use it to explore. Find the highest place you can get to and observe your landscape from there.
4. Taste: Add variety to your diet.
Stimulate your taste buds by mixing up your diet. Try new recipes, spices and foods you don't normally eat.
5. Touch: Pay attention to how things feel.
Too often, we take our sense of touch for granted.
Being conscious about what you're touching helps awaken your brain and stimulate your sensory recognition pattern. Think about running your hand across a silk shirt or getting a hot stone massage — you are choosing to actively think about the feeling it provides.
Finally, here are a couple of thoughts on “going with your gut” from some true believers:
Steve Jobs said it is "more powerful than intellect."
It powers every market decision Warren Buffett makes.
Richard Branson prefers it to stats and data.
Albert Einstein called it the "only real valuable thing."
In her book “What I Know for Sure,” Oprah Winfrey says, “When the universe compels me toward the best path to take, it never leaves me with ‘maybe,’ ‘should I’ or even ‘perhaps.’ I always know for sure when it's telling me to proceed, because everything inside me rises up to reverberate ’Yes!’”
Editor’s Note: For more information on what it means to follow your instinct and intuition and “trust your gut,” check out the following industry articles:
A leader in business for over 30 years and three-time nominee of Rotman’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Marilyn Barefoot is one of the most sought-after innovators and creative problem solvers. As a speaker, coach and ideator, Barefoot’s unique ability to reinvigorate, revitalize and problem solve creatively has helped a broad spectrum of companies jump over their biggest hurdles.
Barefoot’s previous experience as CEO of Square Peg Inc., and in senior leadership positions at some of the world’s largest global agencies (BBDO, Cossette, Vickers & Benson, Bozell Palmer Bonner), led her to create countless award-winning campaigns for tier-one companies including: Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Mills, Nike and Microsoft. Her firsthand knowledge of business leadership cultivated her ability to lead other leaders, galvanizing the strengths of CEOS and associates alike. Barefoot brings a dynamic mix of extensive experience, training and passion for creative problem solving to her high-energy sessions — all of which have a proven track record for producing powerful results.
Find more tips for impactful storytelling from Barefoot, visit her website, and subscribe to FootNotes®.