We’ve all heard the expressions, “Trust your intuition”, “Go with your gut”, or “Mother’s Intuition”.

Intuition. What exactly does that mean? According to Google it means, “The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” So in other words, if it something doesn’t feel right then our intuition is telling us that it’s probably bad.

Often in life we have to make decisions on what ways to proceed, paths to take, and often we will sit on those thoughts to contemplate what our guts tell us.

Should I quit my job and get a different one? Should I go back to school? Should I stay in my current relationship? And on and on those decisions go. What is our intuition or inner voice telling us? Most of our day-to-day decisions (What should I cook for dinner? What do I want to do this weekend? Should I go blonde? Etc.) are simple decisions that don’t require much introspection and thus the “gut response” doesn’t play much of a factor.

Those so called simple decisions are simple because they are familiar questions that we have asked ourselves (our brain) many times before and tend to require little energy from our brains to decide.

Because those simple decisions are low energy demands on our very efficient brains the brain/body doesn’t get a gut sensation or intuition about them.

You see, our subconscious brains are well-oiled machines of extraordinary capacity. They tell our heart to beat around 115,000 times a day; repair and make about 240 billion new cells every day; and make sure that the nutrients we consume get absorbed in our approximately 30 feet of intestines. So with all that very complex work, it will tend to leave the “small stuff” up to our conscious brain (pre-frontal cortex).

Our subconscious brain has far too much to concern itself with and will focus on the mechanisms that keep us alive and safe. This is how our species have evolved.

Getting to the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing. I believe that we have become mal-adapted to the safety net of our brain. We fail to make scary or challenging decisions because what we believe is our intuition telling us is a bad idea is really just our subconscious brains sending those thoughts to us.

Those sensations can come in many ways such as: a pit in our stomach, tightness in our chest, increased breathing, pins-and-needles on our skin, or just on overall sense of “yuckiness” when we consider that new potential decision.
That, my friend, is probably not our intuition at all. It is in fact our subconscious brain warning us that the impending potential new behavior or action that we are contemplating is totally unknown and thus potentially dangerous. So the brain floods the body with chemicals, neuropeptides and electrical signals which produce those thoughts and feelings that this new potential behavior/action is a no-go.

So the gut feelings we are getting is just the subconscious’ way of telling us that we don’t have the known and familiar brain and neural connections to know the outcome of said potential action. And is just being the precautious mama bear keeping us safe from potential dangers.

In order to appease the subconscious brain and all the terribly uncomfortable signals it is thrusting at us just thinking about the new experience, we back off and succumb to the warmth of the “comfort zone”.

Instead of recognizing those feelings and thoughts as the fight or flight nervous system doing what it does best (protecting us from harm), we can’t stand the heat and give up any ideas of changing or bettering ourselves.

And this is why I believe for most of us, we misinterpret our body’s sensations as intuition instead of what is really going on. We perceive those feelings as “this feels right”…But actually, it just simple feels familiar and comfortable.

The key to overcoming this is to start to recognize those connections. Notice that when you have an idea which is challenging to the current status quo and those very unsettling feelings come over you, your subconscious brain is just doing the very effective job it knows how to do. But remember that the conscious brain makes the final decision!

The more you notice this pattern, the more you will be able to start to retrain your brain to understand that particular change is not only safe but healthy.

Ok, now get growing!