You’ve probably heard the classic expression “Trust your gut” or “Go with your gut.” Remember that one time you were torn with a difficult decision and decided to just trust your instincts and go with what felt right?
That is trusting your gut.
How do we know if our gut is really trustworthy? What if it’s leading us in the wrong direction? Is it a bountiful source of wisdom that should always be trusted?
The classic expression isn’t talking about your literal stomach. It’s talking about your gut feeling, which is that internal instinct or voice that can influence every decision we make, especially difficult ones. Actually, when you are “trusting your gut,” you are actually trusting your brain, which is the source that gut feeling.
This “gut feeling” is an instinctual response from your brain to protect you from making what it perceives to be the wrong decision. Your brain creates a mental map based on every experience that you’ve ever had and everything you have ever learned to create the foundation for which your brain makes decisions.
Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you went over to your best friends house and they told you to go place your hand on the frying pan sitting on top of the stove. There is nothing in the pan and it doesn’t appear to be cooking, but internally your brain tells you that it’s probably a good idea to check to make sure it’s not hot. You trust your friend, but your brain doesn’t. Your brain remembers that pans were made for cooking.
Strange example… but you get the point.
The main occasion when you hear the expression “trust your gut” is typically when we are facing a challenging decision where we’re not sure what to do. When you are having a difficult time reasoning as to what the best decision is, sometimes your brain can make the best call.
Again, your brains decision is only based off previous experiences and knowledge. If you have had previous experience or knowledge that relates to this difficult decision, your brain may very well make the right decision.
On the other hand, if this decision is outside the realm of your experience or knowledge, that “gut feeling” could be leading you towards a disastrous choice.
To Trust Or Not Trust?
When do we trust that gut feeling and when do we not? Every situation and challenge is different. Sometimes your gut is right and may prevent you from overthinking. Other times it’s operating out of lack of experience or knowledge and can lead you down the wrong path.
You’re job is to evaluate your capacity, based on your knowledge and experience, to handle the decision and solicit as much wisdom from trusted individuals and resources as possible.
Then, simply make the decision and trust it. Don’t ruminate over it. Be the master of your fate and take responsibility for your actions. No matter if the decision is right or wrong, your action will spark a phenomenal reward for your brain.
If you made a good decision, your brain will make you feel the reward. If it was not the best decision, your brain will learn a substantial amount from that the experience that will benefit you throughout the rest of your life and most likely prevent you from making worse decisions down the road.
Hence the reason many successful leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs will tell you… FAIL MORE.
So can/should you trust your gut? Yes and no. You should be aware that your gut may not always be right but the more experiences you have and the more you learn, the more equipped your brain will be at giving you the correct gut feeling to guide your life and your decisions in the right direction.