How to Start Trusting Your Gut

We often talk about gut feelings using words like instinct or hunch. It’s that sense of understanding something without consciously thinking about it. You might get answers or solutions without knowing exactly how or why.

In today’s world of big data, it’s easy to ignore your instincts. Some think of intuition as mysterious or not reliable, especially in research. But studies suggest that combining gut feelings with logical thinking can lead to quicker, better, and more accurate decisions. Trusting your instincts can bring more certainty to your choices, especially when things are complicated or there isn’t a clear “right” answer.

Your Gut Feelings: The Science:

Intuition is deeply connected to your brain and even has a strong link to your stomach, often called the “second brain.” Your gut has an impressive network of 100 million neurons, more than even the spinal cord. When you make instinctive decisions, your brain and gut work together, quickly considering your memories, past experiences, personal needs, and preferences to make the best choice for the situation. Intuition is an experiential and emotional part of decision-making that leaders should value.

Even if you’re not consciously using your intuition, you’re likely benefiting from it daily. That feeling in your stomach, like a pit, is a signal from your gut. For instance, paying attention to your team members’ tone and expressions helps you notice when they’re not engaged. Also, doing a gut check on a product design can guide your creative process.

How to Use Intuition for Better Decisions:

Distinguish Gut Feeling from Fear:

  • Recognize that fear often comes with feelings of confinement or anxiety.
  • Intuition feels like it’s leading you toward your best interests, creating feelings of anticipation or calm.

Start with Small Decisions:

  • Make minor decisions without overthinking to connect with your instincts.
  • Starting small reduces overwhelming feelings and builds your stress tolerance.

Roleplay Your Decisions:

  • Instead of overthinking, act out different decisions and observe your reactions.
  • Simulating outcomes can reveal insights about your preferences and desired goals.

Try the Snap Judgment Test:

  • Use rapid thinking to make quick judgments without overanalyzing.
  • Write down a question, answer it quickly, and revisit your response after a few hours to see if it still holds.

Tap into Your Values:

  • Understand your core values, which represent what’s most important to you.
  • When facing a decision, ask yourself which action aligns with your values.

Remember, intuition works best in a calm atmosphere. Allow your thoughts to wander and make connections. While intuition isn’t perfect, using these strategies might reveal that your gut instinct is a powerful decision-making tool you haven’t fully appreciated.

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