If Your Gut Told You to Jump off a Cliff Would You Do It?



My gut is telling me to get away from the computer and get out to play where the sun is shining. Should I listen to it even though I have ‘homework’ to do? My gut also wants me to eat that brownie. Is that a good idea? What is my gut anyway? Is is always trustworthy?

What if we aren’t our best judge? ┬áMaybe we should stop, reflect and ask questions of our gut.

In my psychotherapy practice I do a lot of self-esteem and confidence building. Often the question of trusting our own “inner voice” comes up. David Burns, admittedly someone I see as a expert in all things CBT, wrote that if we tune in to our inner, real ME voice, we will not go wrong. For many reasons we have trouble doing that, the ‘other’ voices are louder, our cognitive core beliefs are distorting our thinking, stuff like that.

But what if we think, “My inner true gut is telling me this….” and we end up making a huge mistake? Do I really want to question myself all the time? That does not sound reasonable at all. In fact it sounds scarily anxiety provoking.

To solve this conflict I go back to the idea that we have three inner voices, the Child, the Parent and the Adult (Id, Superego and Ego respectively if we are talking Freudian.) These voices can all have a say but the judge, the one who is in charge, is the Adult. That way when my Child gut or voice or instinct, whatever you want to call it, says, “I want to just sit and watch TV all day!” I consult with my inner Adult voice to see if it’s OK or if I need to regulate that somehow. Maybe my Adult needs to consult with an outer voice like my accountant, if it’s a business decision, or husband if it has to do with the kids, but my Adult always gets to make the final decision.

Let’s not confuse taking action by what our gut tells us as an excuse to act impulsively. Oprah may say that she never made a wrong decision by listing to her gut but I’ve got to say:

Really?

Related reading:

The Hazards of Confidence, by Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, Nobel laureate and one of the fathers of behavioral economics.

The Invisible Gorilla, How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

2 comments


  • Kimmie

    Thank you for this perspective…This “gut” feeling has been on my mind since I read the article Oprah wrote.
    My daughter called me this week with a question about the baby and I told her to “use her own judgement” and she told me she didn’t have any judgement…LOL!!!
    Maybe we should not have any judgement when it comes to decisions that involve others.
    Thanks again for a great read!!!

    2011/10/23
    • Hi, Kimmie! Thanks for stopping by and leaving this great comment.

      2011/10/23

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