What is a gut instinct?
I would say that it is a particularly unique and difficult to describe sensation. The sort that when you have had it, you will always remember how it felt.
It often is often a physical sensation and psychological response to information that your sub-conscious has collected. A highly primal response which main aim is to protect you, and can even often lead to release of adrenaline and the “fight or flight” response depending on its severity.
What signs are associated with it?
I have listed a few below. You might only experience one or two of these signs, or any combination of them. But all are worth paying attention to:
- A sudden feeling of dread of fear, out of seemingly nowhere.
- Chills, hairs standing on the back of your neck and goosebumps.
- Sudden Hyper vigilance (High Alert)
- A strong urge to do something.
- Nausea and a deep feeling of unease
- A voice in your head very clearly telling you not to do something, or to move from somewhere.
What may cause these feelings?
This matter causes quite a lot of debate, and can range from anything to being a “6th Sense” to something spiritual, to just a response to a changing baseline. All of these could be perfectly valid, and the prevalent theories behind it change from person to person.
As the theory regarding your subconscious detecting a change in the baseline is easier to understand, I shall elaborate on it in more detail. A baseline is the natural resting state of an area, and this changes from area to area. For example if you are out in the country side, you expect it to be quiet save a few sounds of nature. So if suddenly there is something very loud, it is a sign something changed drastically. The same could be said in a city, where it is often busy and loud, if it suddenly goes very quiet, or you walk into an area with suddenly nearly no people. It is a sign that something might be off.
Even if you do not consciously pay attention to these things all the time, as useful as you can be. Your sub-conscious typically does, even if it is not as trained a response as say a police officer who can read the streets in his area. If your subconscious senses something as changing suddenly, or something is just off. It will typically warn you using the signs mentioned earlier.
While this may not explain all gut feelings, as there are stories of ones related to someones family in danger from states away, which do not fall into this pattern at all, and could be seen as more spiritual. It is a good place to start in understanding how the reactions may work.
But how can we separate this from plain fear and anxiety? I would say that looking for the cause of the feelings is important. If your mind is purely chaotic and frantic, there is a high possibility it is fear. Not that fear alone does not tell you useful information, there is just many more potential causes, which makes it quite difficult to pinpoint.
However, if your mind is rather calm. Or even suddenly incredibly focused and aware, and you still feel the strong reactions that I listed earlier. There is a strong chance that what you are feeling is a gut instinct.
The use of gut instincts in self defense.
Gut Instincts also are of great use in self defense and situational awareness. Especially as they can help you identify threats that you might have otherwise missed. For example it might just be a person at a bar, who has a certain predatory glint in their eyes that makes you very uneasy. It might also be a certain dark alley, that just screams for you not to go down it. Being able to spot what it is that triggers the Gut feeling, is important to allow you to act accordingly and distance yourself from the threat.
The importance of gut feelings, and trusting your instincts has also been stated by various self defense instructors. For example, one of the main points former FBI tactics instructor Steve Kardian, mentions in one of his books regarding self defense for women is trusting your gut, as it can allow you to get out of a situation early, without having to risk fighting. And he is not the only one suggesting this, self defense instructors from all sorts of backgrounds, be they law enforcement or martial arts instructors all state the same thing. That it is better to trust your instincts so you can react and get out of somewhere, than risking putting yourself in danger and having to fight.
Positive Gut Instincts.
Of course, there can also be positive gut feelings. The ones that can signify and opportunity that you just have to take, or something that you just have to do for some reason or another. This could be choosing a partner, buying a house, or any other major path you might think of. If your gut is basically screaming at you “Yes” and you have a deep, feeling of something being just right, even if you cannot quite put your finger on it. It is worth listening to and perhaps even heeding that advice.
Trust your Gut
So, trust your gut. It can tell you more than you may be able to consciously see. Be it alerting you from danger, or pointing you towards a great oppotunity. And while it might be difficult to listen to or understand at first. With practise you will get better at listening to your instincts, and understanding what they are trying to tell you.