The Brain In Your Belly
Tough decision to make? Go with your gut.
Have you ever had a knot in your stomach? It’s a commonly accepted indicator that something is amiss. You’re stressed about a decision. It’s a warning of sorts. Perhaps you’re about to hire the wrong person or take your team into perilous territory. The tension in your belly is part of your intuitive physical system communicating, “Danger ahead. Redirection is needed!”
Many scientists believe we have two brains: the one between our ears, and the lesser known, but equally important one in our gut. They communicate with each other. When your head gets upset, your stomach takes notice and vise versa.
The next time you’re faced with a decision, large or small, check in with your gut. Does an option you’re considering feel off, or right, in your belly? Is your stomach tied in knots at the thought of making an offer to the person you just interviewed or does it feel relaxed and at ease?
Here are some questions to ask:
- Is there an alternative that feels better?
- Is this the right time to make this decision? Does waiting a few hours, (days, weeks or months) feel better?
- Do I need more information before making this decision?
- Does the whole thing feel wrong? Or just part of it?
- What would make this decision feel right?
Is there a question or issue that keeps coming to mind that you’ve been dismissing? Pay attention to it. Bring it to your conscious awareness and check in with your gut. It may provide some valuable information about the correct course of action.
Intuition is a skill that, when practiced, can be honed to perfection. Imagine having a reliable gut check meter you can use each time you need to make a decision!
It’s More Than Your Gut
The term “gut feeling” is often used generically for a whole host of other body sensations. Physical sensations are a huge part of our intuitive guidance system. When I asked people to describe their gut feeling in more detail, I received a surprising variety of answers.
- A vibration through my whole body
- A mild electric zing
- Chills up and down my spine
- A warm surge of energy though my body
- A buzzing around my head
- Goosebumps on my arms
- My left knee hurts
- My stomach knots up
- Generalized tension in my body that wasn’t there previously
- I get cold feet
There were many more answers, but suffice to say, the body’s owner was aware when they were receiving an intuitive communication.
One entrepreneur I spoke with said she was contemplating taking on a new piece of business. However, whenever she picked up the phone to dial the prospective client to say “yes,” she felt like “someone pulled the plug on my energy.” She ended up turning the client down. Later she overheard someone at a networking event talking about this client and describing how incredibly difficult they were to work with. “It was like my mind was telling me to go ahead. But my body was smarter.”
Pay Attention To The Physical Cues
So, how do you learn to interpret these physical messages? First, simply be aware of what’s going on with your own body. Think back to a successful decision you’ve made over the past few days. How did it feel in your body? Where did you feel it? How would you describe the sensation? Repeat this same set of questions with an unsuccessful decision.
Example #1: You’ve got a sales call to make. You’ve been dreading this call all morning. At around 11:30 you feel an odd surge of energy in your body and decide to pick up the phone and make the call. It turns out you reached the client at just the right time and she was happy to hear from you.
Example #2: You wake up on Tuesday morning. The thought, “I should get into the office early today” pops into your mind. You override this idea by telling yourself you’ll work late instead. You notice your stomach hurts. As you pull out onto the highway you hear the traffic reporter for your radio station announce major delays on your route to work. If you had left thirty minutes prior you would have avoided it all.
Begin to check in with your body when making small decisions.
- Who should I call to get background on this issue?
- Is this a good time to make that phone call?
- Is it important for me to be at that meeting?
- Which restaurant should I choose?
- Should I work with Joe or Mary on this project?
- Which book would be most helpful in getting up to speed on this topic?
It might be a good idea to keep a journal of your decisions. What was the decision? How did it feel in your body? Was it a good, bad or neutral decision? When you become comfortable with the way you receive insight on small decisions, you’ll be surprised at the speed with which you’ll be able to get accurate intuitive information on larger decisions.
If you’re still having some difficulty making a decision, following are some more ideas to try:
What’s got your attention? If something keeps nudging you and you can’t get it out of your mind, take some steps towards the idea. You don’t have to know the whole path or the destination. Trust that your intuition is guiding you via the next step to take.
It’s normal to feel uncertain. Very few people feel 100% confident that they have the right stuff to reach their goal. If they’re honest, most will tell you that they feel scared, fearful and lacking confidence a good part of the time. Figure out a strategy or philosphy that keeps you going when your conviction wavers. Possibilities include talking to a mentor or a coach. It could also come through inspirational reading and through a spiritual faith.
Shake things up. When you’re feeling insecure and uncertain, you usually want to stay in your comfort zone. Who wants more uncertainty?! Resoundingly, successful gut trusters said they had to move beyond safe, routine and secure activities. What does that look like? Email someone you’ve admired and ask for their advice. Take a class in a field related to your interest. Introduce yourself to a stranger at a meeting or party. When you begin to do this, you’ll put yourself in the milieu where connections and opportunities can occur. You’ll be surprised at the number of helpful folks out there in the world.
Ignore the rules. There will be a lot of naysayers when you learn to trust your gut. “You can’t do that.” “It’s not done that way.” “To succeeed in business, you need to ___.” The successful business people of tomorrow will be the ones who did things differently today. They trusted their instincts and created new rules, the ones that work for them. If you fail, consider it a detour. Learn from your mistakes, pick yourself back up and move forward again. If you aren’t experiencing setbacks at least some of the time, you’re not truly trying new things.
Make a list of your choices. Get out a pad of paper. Think about your goal or intention. In can be an intangible one such as wanting more fun or happiness. It could be a tangible goal such as a job with a specific title, salary or industry. Now write down a dozen or more possible courses of action you could take to meet this goal. After you’ve finished your list, step back and take a look. Which one leaps out at you and makes you want to begin right now. That’s your intuitive answer. Now go do it!
Reprinted with permission of the publisher from Put Your Intuition to Work © 2016 Lynn A. Robinson. Published by Career Press, Wayne, NJ. All rights reserved.
Lynn A. Robinson, M.Ed., is a leading expert on the topic of intuition. Voted “Best Psychic” by Boston Magazine, she’s also a bestselling author of Divine Intuition: Your Inner Guide to Purpose, Peace and Prosperity, and her latest book, Put Your Intuition to Work. To learn more about her books and intuitive readings visit LynnRobinson.com.