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Why You Should Trust Your Gut

This past weekend, a friend and I ended up inside a tarot reading tent at the Whole Earth Festival. The Whole Earth Festival is an annual zero-waste, three-day festival that celebrates art, music, and environmental sustainability at UC Davis. We watched, transfixed, as the reader shuffled and laid out cards for the past, present, and future.

One card in particular caught my eye: The Moon, which represented a challenge to be faced in the present. “The moon is a symbol of illumination,” the psychic explained. “If you picture the world at night, the moon shines a light on the world, but it also casts long shadows. This card calls on us to make decisions even when we lack complete knowledge, and to be content with not being able to know everything.” Whether or not you believe that tarot readings are authentic or a costly scam, these words are practical advice which should be applied to each and every one of our lives. It is impossible for our conscious minds to know each and every possibility that will occur. The most that we can do is trust our instincts to do the heavy lifting.

After all, humans are much more intuitive than we give ourselves credit for. I remember being upset about something late at night and having a classmate text me, randomly, to check in. There was no way for her to know anything had happened; she just told me that she’d had a bad feeling and needed to make sure I was okay. Things like this aren’t a rare occurrence. They happen every day, whether we’re aware of them or not. It might just be the nagging sensation that you’re forgetting something or the wariness you feel when near a suspicious stranger. My mother told me I have good instincts, and that I just need to learn to trust them. I think that it’s a challenge for all of us, really. Today’s society puts such an emphasis on being able to pragmatically explain every action that we may be tempted to view gut feelings as incorrect or emotionally charged, and while this kind of scientific thinking may make sense when conducting lab experiments, it’s not a sustainable way to live life. 

Besides, while trusting your gut feeling may seem irrational, it’s actually the complete opposite. These feelings are produced through a logical and calculated “predictive processing framework”. Essentially, our brains compare our present experiences against stored memories and outcomes. It picks up on tiny ticks (such as minute facial movements) that our conscious minds overlook, allowing us to have strong feelings about a certain situation without exactly knowing why. So the next time your instincts try to tell you something, don’t be so quick to dismiss the message. Your body knows what it’s doing, and feelings such as these are what have kept humans alive for thousands of years. It’s impossible to know the outcome of every scenario, but our hearts can make a pretty good guess, so it’s time to just have faith in yourself and make that jump. After all, any decision (and especially a gut decision) is better than no decision at all.

Allie Dodson is a third year student and campus correspondent at Her Campus UCD. She is double majoring in International Relations and Spanish, and in her spare time enjoys drinking coffee and watching sitcoms with her friends.
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