We all know the feeling, it’s a sort of “knowing” or a gentle nudge that something is off and at other times that something feels just right. Across history, philosophers, scientists and religious figures attempted to decipher this sensation and give it a name. Over the years, it eventually became known as the “gut feeling”, a sensation that at times can be so subtle that a lot of us can easily miss it.
By having a conversation with Ahmed Tawfik, a professional therapist with years of experience, we were able to debunk the phenomena and even discovered that there are ways to tap into your gut and hear what it is saying and once you do listen, the potential is life-changing.
Usually, a gut feeling stems from past experiences and beliefs that have been experienced over the years. Like for example, throughout your life you may have learnt how to pick up on another person’s intentions based on the number of times you felt something was off from the very beginning. What usually happens is that later on, you discover that the person was not right for you from the start. That is when you begin to trust and listen to that initial off-putting feeling.
Imagine that scenario repeated throughout your life and you having that same off feeling each time. Eventually you will put two and two together and learn to use your experience coupled with that feeling of discomfort as a reference to guide you when dealing with people and daily life scenarios.
Also, that doesn’t mean that every gut feeling you will experience will be negative. There are many times in life when we experience a positive gut feeling that can manifest itself through emotions of sheer joy or even through utter euphoria. It’s natural, comes very easily and it’s your body communicating to you that whatever experience you are having or person you are talking to is good.
How can one differentiate between anxiety and a gut feeling?
Anxiety, just like a gut feeling, manifests itself both physically and mentally but at the end of the day, the two are completely different. A gut feeling is your intuition while anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness towards an uncertain outcome. It is usually associated with fear of the future, a certain event or generally having expectations that something bad will happen like for example that you will get fired from your job or can get into a car accident; it’s all hypothetical.
The gut feeling, on the other hand, is very different because there isn’t that element of uncertainty or future possibility, instead what your body communicates to you in that moment is more certain and concrete. It’s an affirmation not an expectation and that is how the two differ from one another.
What happens when listening to your gut doesn’t pay off? What if your gut is wrong? How can you know to trust it?
There is no 100% certainty with your gut feeling. You should not think of your gut feeling as something that is set in stone even if your experience says otherwise. Sometimes it can reach the point where you may end up making random associations that you believe to be logical but are in fact the opposite, for example how some people believe that whenever they listen to a certain song that makes them happy, they will ace their exam. They made that conclusion based on repeated experience but at the end of the day, it’s easily mere coincidence.
What’s most important is that you are careful not to place high expectations on the gut feeling that you are experiencing. Take caution on how you navigate what your body is communicating to you and use other pieces of information around you including confiding with friends and family.
What advice can you give to people on how to tap Into and listen to their gut?
As we go about life, we may encounter certain life situations including changes in the weather, listening to a certain song and so on that would have an immediate effect on our emotions and inner feelings. The way our body communicates to us in those moments may lock us in a certain mindset. That is why I advise everyone not to get swooped in by what it communicates but rather, de-bunk your gut feeling and analyse it from different viewpoints, that would be my biggest advice.