Gut feelings: Your second brain
If you haven’t read Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, please put it on your “must do” list. Until then, consider the following…
Many of us assume that human intelligence is based solely on the brain we all know about — the one inside the cranium. It is not. Intelligence is distributed throughout the body.
Go With Your Gut
Example: Whenever you have an experience in life it does not go directly to brain one — the brain in the head — to be thought about. The first place it goes is to the neurological networks of the intestinal tract: the brain in the gut.
Every interaction you have creates an initial reaction in your gut well before it ever traverses your synapses to reach your brain. The feeling may come across as “butterflies in your stomach” or a “knot” of fear or excitement. Some people have been trained to process everything intellectually, so those people may not even notice their gut reactions.
That’s a pity, because your gut is just trying to communicate with you. It is looking out for your well-being, just as your brain is, and it’s making decisions and asking questions you may want to find out about. How important is this meeting or this challenge or this person? Is there an opportunity here? Is there a threat? Is my happiness or advancement at risk?
Known as the enteric nervous system, this “second brain” in your gut works on its own but also in conjunction with the brain in your head. Scientists who carefully examine the elaborate systems of nerve cells and neurochemicals found in the intestinal tract now tell us that there are more neurons there than in the entire spinal column — at least 100 million of them. This gives your intestine the ability to help tell your body and mind what it may be best to do or not do.
Listening to Your Alternate Brains
Many people view gut reactions as those that have not been well thought out or rationally examined. Does this make them any less reliable? No, because they are unclouded by clutter of information found in our heads. Rational decisions are often influenced by forces outside of your true self. Reaching the peak of your true potential depends on developing and applying an energizing, authentic level of intelligence and bringing it to everything you do. For this to happen, you must combine the perceptions and impressions of the gut, heart, and mind.
Think of a time when you considered all of the options and ended up listening to your gut. Did it turn out to be the best choice? It always has for me.
So, how will you handle your next big decision? I say, “go with your gut!”