How to Trust Your Gut Feeling

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

Not too long ago, I posted an ad to sell a game console on Craigslist.   A buyer contacted me soon after.  He sounded friendly and knowledgeable; we agreed on a price.  Knowing you should not trust anyone to give your home address, I set up the meeting a meeting at a McDonald’s.   The guy showed up a few minutes late and was very apologetic.  We discussed the item and payment expected.  He seemed to hem and haw about the price even though we already had already agreed on the phone.  He seemed to “forget” certain details about our conversation.  I got an odd feeling about the whole thing.  Then he said he really did not have the money, but a couple of friends were meeting him at the location and were only a few blocks away.  That’s when I got a really strong feeling to just get out.  I quickly stood up and said, “Thanks, but I am moving on.”   I quickly left and drove off, looking behind my rear view mirror in case I was followed.   I was relieved when I was out of there.  I may have lost out on a sale but I felt a great sense of relief when I left.  I feel I avoided a potentially bad situation.

Animals have a sixth sense that protect them from danger and so do we.  We use different terms to describe it:  some call it intuition, a gut feeling or inner voice.  Whatever you may call it, I believe we should trust our gut.

How do you know you can trust your gut feeling?

  • A real gut feeling manifests itself physically:  you get a feeling in your midsection, like a knot, or the hairs in the back of your neck prick up.
  • You tend to be calm when you get this feeling.  Unlike an an anxiety attack, there is no fear attached to intuition.
  • After you make a decision after having trusted your instinct you feel even calmer and somehow lighter, like a weight is lifted off you.

How do you develop it?

I believe that experience has a lot to do with developing your gut instinct.  Just like working out your muscles, you can strengthen it by using it.  Pay attention to your surroundings, using your keen senses to experience what’s around you.  When faced with a decision, even minor ones, pay attention to how you feel about your choices.  Notice if your thoughts are negative or positive about certain things.  We’ve all met people we’ve instantly like or disliked.  Oftentimes, there is a good reason why these intense feelings come over you, and you prove yourself right.

In relation to survival, trusting your gut is a big part of the survival mindset.  I am not saying blindly make an “on the spot” decision.  I still believe you should consider all angles, make a knowledgeable choice.

For example, you are about to walk in an elevator and someone walks in with you that you get that “funny feeling,” would you continue walking into that elevator?  Or, based on the information at hand, you know you can walk away and catch the next elevator, no harm done.   Many rape or crime victims who were interviewed after the fact admit that they later regret they did not listen to that “little voice” or they second guessed themselves.  If you turn out to be wrong, then all  you did was waste a little time or appeared to be paranoid.  So what?  The life you’re saving could be your own.

Whether it’s to make an important decision, such as changing jobs, or moving locations, or even deciding to bug out when the time comes, I think we should take into account all factors involved, review the pros and cons, then trust our own intuition to lead us to make the right choice.

I am still grateful I trusted my gut about that Craigslist transaction that went awry.  That day could have turned out badly had I ignored it.  Start paying attention to your gut feelings, intuition or inner voice – you can count on it to save you.

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