Do you have a good gut? Do you trust what your gut tells you?

Many people believe relying on your gut reaction is an unproven, emotional, response that is indecipherable and indiscernible when it comes to determining faction from fiction.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant book, Blink, he tries to give form to the snap-judgment of the gut feeling, and while he doesn’t like the term “intuition” — he feels it is too linked to emotion — Gladwell does argue that a gut reaction is a trained,
rational, action based on previous experience and facts that may not be able to be expressed in words beyond the gut of the body.

Do you live on your gut reaction?

Has your gut ever betrayed you?

How do you handle the disconnect between what you gut tells you and what your mind knows?


  1. curtismchale —
    Right! That has been my experience as well, though I am careful how I reveal that reliable gut to non-believers. 😀
    You are so right that the gut saves time and effort — and that’s why Gladwell argues we should accept that reaction as being an instinctual, well-trained, method of seeing even if we can’t explain why.
    A lot of CEOs live off their guts, but when it comes to those beneath them, a “gut feeling” will not be accepted as a verifiable reaction to a situation or a system, and that’s a problem.

  2. Really your gut is based on experience. I read a study dealing with young and old managers. the older managers came up with the same decision in crisis with half the information than the young managers needed. They based it on their intuition.

  3. That makes sense, cutismichael, but what about new experiences we’ve never had before? Are we able to gut them out? Or must we rely on our minds to teach our gut in those instances?

  4. Gut reaction person here too.
    Started off as my parents always telling me that “first impressions” count.
    It very rarely lets me down – and I have a horrible habit of saying “I told you so” as well !

  5. Anyone ever read The Gift of Fear” by Gavin Becker? He too describes intuition as a mere split second past experience type of mechanism, including split second recognition of minute details, the look in someone’s eyes, their body language etc. As an aside, I think this is a must read book for people wanting to understand more about intuition and secondly for those wanting to understand about manipulation techniques. It is not just for those wanting to protect themselves.
    Am I gut reaction kind of gal? I am becoming so. Never used to be. I only ever trusted my mind and the rational intellect. I am learning to understand the gut and to know what it sounds/feels like. And to not confuse it with the ego. I may not always understand the how’s and why’s of my gut, but it’s never let me down and always made sense after the fact.

  6. David, no my mind did not fail me (although some might disagree :-)). For many years I had failed my emotions though, shut them off, repressed them…didn’t trust them. And with that, my gut. I very deliberately only ever used the mind, as I thought it was the only aspect that could be trusted. Well, of course repression only worked for so long and eventually all the repressed emotion, feelings, belief all burst forth. And well, I am still dealing with the fallout. And learning that emotion is good, as is the mind. And that it’s all about balance….and that’s the very short abbreviated version :-).

  7. David, are you making a slight bit of fun of me by any chance????!!!!
    Never the less, it started out as mandatory (from my perspective anyway) and then continued as voluntary. And it’s a long, boring story which I don’t want to get into on your blog comments. Maybe one day I’ll attempt to write the story. And if I ever do, I’ll let you know. I think you might be good for keeping me on track and focused, should I ever get going.

  8. Not making fun of you at all, natzgal! I’m glad you asked instead of wondering.
    Thanks for answering all my questions! You have a different take on life and I appreciate knowing how you view it and critique it.

  9. Good blog.
    Intuition never betrays. If you’re wrong, you got it from the wrong angle.
    I already stopped saying ‘told you so’ and only think it for myself since then. People are fools – but it rarely helps them if you tell them.

  10. How many of you register N on the Myers-Briggs?
    And how many opportunities have you missed because you’ve panicked and walked away? Could you not have explored the situation and seen what is in it for you?

  11. From my experience (not a pun), I find that most of the people I observe who work on the “gut feeling” in the terms of new experiences are actually working of comparative old ones.
    For example, a woman I work with has had a cat for years and years. She knows all the ins and outs of her cat and knows when something is wrong. Just two months ago, she had a child with her husband, and one night, she had a gut feeling something was wrong with her child.
    Turns out the child was experiencing moderate breathing problems, and going to the hospital was a good thing. When I asked her what she thought it was that triggered her alarm, she said, “I think it is the same as with Oscar (the cat). I could tell by how Jennie’s (the baby) behavior changed quickly that something was wrong.”
    Also, younger people tend to react less confidently to their gut reactions – mostly because they fall into unfamilar situations where their experience is lacking. Many problems with action on gut feelings can be attributed to the fact that the person does not react with confidence, so sabotage their own actions.

  12. mcclaud —
    That’s a great story!
    Young people with the instinct of a good gut do get caught going the wrong way down a one-way street at times — but that’s part of the gut training and usually once the mistake is made, it isn’t repeated in the future.

  13. Ah, yes, Katha!
    We forget instinct when facts cloud the mind. It is a dangerous condition when we do not believe our experience or innate warning systems.

  14. David,
    You’ll have to define “betrayal.” Mu gut reactions are pretty accurate, but that very accuracy often makes those reaction “societally unpalatable.” Being proved right later is often a cold comfort.

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