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You shouldn’t always trust your gut

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

You shouldn’t always trust your gut

Scott Miker

When I was growing up I heard a lot of advice around trusting yourself.  It could be that someone said to trust that little voice inside of you or to trust your gut.

But for me, this wasn’t always great advice.  Often that little voice was what the Buddhists call the monkey mind.  It was filled with incessant, nagging, worrying thoughts that often raced through my mind and easily got out of control.

I also learned not to trust my gut.  My stomach was always sensitive and would often erupt in discomfort any time I was outside of my comfort zone. 

For me I started to learn that these things often led me in the wrong direction and were so strongly associated with and influenced by fear that it always wanted me to play it safe. 

For me it was to realize I couldn’t trust those things and had to do more evaluation than make quick, snap decisions based on current emotion.  I learned that I had to overcome many of those fear-filled thoughts and feelings in order to move forward.  

Over time I learned how to control the emotion associated with being outside of my comfort zone but it required me to stop trusting my gut.  I had to think it through, not make a snap judgment.  I had to use techniques to overcome my anxiety in order to move forward and grow. 

Paradoxically this did eventually lead to being able to trust my gut and trust that internal dialogue but I had to discover that there are often subtleties.  It isn’t about instantly knowing the right answer.  It meant understanding that these feeling-based assessments often leaned more towards safety and avoidance of any risk.

So if you find that those internal triggers are always telling you to avoid going after your goals and dreams, then learn how to stop trusting them.  Instead look for more analysis or other signs of influence. 

Over time you can start to realize when something just seems off versus being afraid because you are outside of your comfort zone.  But in the meantime, know that your gut might just be telling you to run, when there isn’t really any real danger. 

Whenever we set out to improve some aspect of our lives, it will involve change.  If we continue to do what we have always done, then we will continue to get what we have always gotten. 

If we decide we want something else, we have to break away from our current ways of doing things and start to do things differently.  This will inherently mean that we will be a bit uneasy when we start to break away from our comfortable normal.  When we do the gut might jump in and make us feel sick.  It is as though it is against all change, good or bad. 

When the change is something we know we want, we have to be able to temporarily silence our internal dialogue and ignore our gut.  Doing this will allow us to explore new areas and new ways of doing things and ultimately will help us discover the new normal that is necessary for us to improve.