We have all heard the saying “trust your gut.” Your gut might have different meanings for different people, but it basically means that you need to trust your instincts. Why do we need to trust our instincts? Didn’t we evolve to have a higher level of thought, reasoning, and intellect? Yes, and that’s typically the problem.
Our instincts have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. They kept us alive (for the most part) when we were not on top of the food chain. A lot of our instincts are subconscious. We just know a certain feeling happens when something is off, even if we can’t put our finger on it. We run into problems when we try to use reasoning to figure out why we have this instinctual feelings. On top of that, we try to reason it away.
Our reasoning skills are flawed. No matter how intelligent we think we might be, we have certain biases. We might have a feeling that our partner is cheating on us, but we reason it away by saying we’re just being paranoid because we love each other. We might have a feeling our spouse is going to snap, but they love us, so we try to calm things down and be extra attentive. In reality, our subconscious is screaming at us to wake the fuck up before it’s too late! It’s yelling, “Your partner is cheating on you and unless you want three STDs (or STIs now days… why do they always have to change the wording on shit?), get the fuck out!” It could be yelling, “Your spouse is unhinged, and is going to beat the living shit out of you or kill you!” A lot of times, we ignore our gut because our heart doesn’t want to believe our instincts, and our minds come up with a reasonable story to tell ourselves. We enter into a sort of cognitive dissonance (a friend sent me a lot of links on this subject recently).
Cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information. This causes us stress. In the case of instincts, I believe we try to solve this by trying to figure it out and make ourselves believe our reasoned outcome; however, this does not decrease this stress, only prolongs it. Once we trust our gut, and act upon it, we can resolve that stress. Yes, our instincts are causing us stress, but it is doing so as a warning. Again yes, trusting our gut and following through will cause us some short-term stress; however, this short-term stress will be far less than continuing to ignore our gut and live in cognitive dissonance and our prolonged, current situation.
I am not saying I am not without sin. I have not trusted my gut countless times. Each time, I’ve regretted it. “This bitch is psycho, don’t stick your dick in that!” Later, I’m sleeping with a gun in my hand because she refuses to leave with pupils the size of those creepy, big-eyed animal greeting cards. “Hey, maybe you should shut off the main power before inserting that breaker.” Nope! Touch the 200 amp backplane and almost died. “Don’t marry this person! She has a lot of unresolved issues, and you’re going to regret it!” Yeah, I’ve ignored my gut a lot. I’m still paying for some of those times. If your gut is telling you not to do something, don’t! If your gut is telling you to get out, get the fuck out! That being said, you have to be smart about it. Your gut is telling you something is wrong, and you need to change something. We have intellect and reasoning to figure out the best, safest way of listening to our gut, not to prove our gut wrong.