Gut Instinct

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BY DR. LYDIA THURTON

I was nauseous every day for a week until I finally listened to that little voice inside me. It’s hard to define your gut instinct. In a word it’s the way you “know” things that haven’t been presented through hard evidence. It goes beyond your thoughts. Thoughts are usually wrong. Have you ever felt it deep in your heart, or your stomach or your toes? Something is very wrong or very right and you just “know.”

Researchers have shown that your heart rate speeds up before making simple decisions, and the people that made decisions subconsciously tuning to that rate were better able to learn and make correct choices.

Women are especially good at this “tuning in”. As a survival tactic, women had to be able to read other humans and animals, their body language and actions, to assess her and her baby’s safety. She was responsible for protecting her own. Picking up on subtle clues to make decisions would have been critical for our survival as humans.

Modern times have made it harder than ever to tune into your inner voice. There are many distractions. Social media being a huge one. It’s hard to hear that quiet voice inside you when you are looking at celebrity fashion on Instagram. Or comparing your friend’s baby to yours. Or answering just one (five) more emails. Our phones and laptops are the biggest thieves of that quiet time when we would normally just check in with ourselves and assess our own behaviour and lives.

For some patients their intuition is so strong it actually makes them sick. People diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome are an excellent example of this. Irritable bowel syndrome means you have gas, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, bloating, without any actual known disease. We’ve all had a nervous stomach before a big speech. It’s essentially living like that. You feel emotions and fears physically, in your gut.

You can tune into your gut instinct if you want to. The way to hear your gut instinct is by setting aside time and your intention. The intention is very important. You have to ask the right questions to get the right answers.

Your instincts are a quiet voice that can be drowned out by overeating, alcohol, interpersonal conflict, raising children, job worries. Set aside five minutes a day to just exist in silence. And ask your body, am I okay? How do I feel? What did I dream about last night? And eventually “What do I know, but am ignoring?”

My patients are all busy. Ways to gain time to connect with your inner self come in simple moments. While we are cooking, driving, showering, having a cigarette, falling asleep. Whatever time you have, it’s helpful to willfully ask yourself, “What do I know, but fail to acknowledge out loud?” And wait in quiet, silent, openness. Ask yourself that question in your quiet moments and you will come to know your gut and your hearts true desires.

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