Monday, October 23, 2017

Don't Trust Your Gut: Respect It

Today is the day after a very full weekend of NLP training. In the world of NLP and self development, lots of people will tell you to "trust your gut," as if we all know all the right answers but somehow fail to listen to ourselves.

© Can Stock Photo / lkeskinen

My training is a little different. I teach people to respect their gut. Your gut is a good teacher. Good teachers expect you to listen to what they say (it's based on expertise developed over time) and then to question it. A good teacher expects you to test what they teach.

Your "gut" will sometimes provide you with good counsel, and sometimes it will mislead you because the experience that has shaped your 'gut' reaction is not typical of the situation you're in now.  Your gut can be wrong. You know this. There are times in all our lives when we listened to our gut and really wish we had thought things through instead.

Most of the processing power of your mind/brain/body system is outside your conscious awareness. It is responsible (among other things) for making use of your previous experience so that you are more likely to be more successful with less effort in the future (you only need to learn to tie your shoes once; after that you can tie your shoes without thinking about it).

When thinking is too complicated, you might as well trust your gut. If you've gathered all available new information and one answer is not rationally better than another, trust your gut. If you're in danger, trust your gut (it thinks faster than your mind and it's much better to be more safe than not safe enough).

At all other times, respect your gut. That funny feeling is the result of your past experiences, and it will often give you good advice. And sometimes, it will choose the wrong experience to apply to a situation, and you'll be stuck in the past instead of moving forward. Respect means noticing what your gut is telling you and testing it out as a theory.

Your reasoning mind is the part of you that you know best. It's only the opposite of your gut in the sense that the heads side of a coin is the opposite of the tails side (they are both part of the same coin). When your head and your gut move together, you'll find yourself moving in the right direction more often.


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