Since middle school (and sometimes earlier), most of us have been told to trust our instincts, and follow our hearts (shout out to Mulan). Whether or not you ever actually listened to that advice when you were 13, now that we’re all older I think it’s time to reflect on the multitude of ways that trusting what we feel can make our lives better, no matter what the situation is.
1. It could save your life.
Listen, I get it – doctors and hospitals are scary! It’s hard to communicate your needs to medical professionals, especially when they either don’t believe you or feel like you should be satisfied with whatever solution they’ve given you, even when you aren’t. But if you ever feel like there’s something wrong with you, or if you are worried about anything medical, trust what you feel! Pursue leads, ask questions, and don’t settle until you’re satisfied with the solution. It is so much better to ask the question, get the test done, and get told you’re fine than to just let it go and stay unsatisfied and nervous.
2. You’re probably right.
Remember when you were a kid and your friends wanted to do something rebellious, and you felt that pit in your stomach but followed along anyway? And later you super regretted it or realized it was stupid in one way or another? You knew the right answer from the beginning, but you listened to your friends or the voice inside your head that wants you to be cool. And, look, all of those experiences were important – we learned stuff! We didn’t make the same mistake twice (at least, some of us probably didn’t). But chances are, the intuitive feelings you’re having now aren’t about piercing your ears at home or sneaking out of your friend’s house to see her boyfriend. So learn from those mistakes, and trust yourself to know when your intuition is telling you something important.
3. Your safety is more important than being polite.
Parents have been telling their kids to be polite for centuries. “Go hug your uncle! Don’t be rude!” “Be polite and say hi.” The list goes on. So when we walk through life, we don’t want to be rude to people. It’s late at night and you can sense someone behind you. You’re not sure if they’re following you, but you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, and they’re getting closer. You could cross the street, or turn around and look at them, or even step to the side and let them pass, but that would be rude! You’re waiting at your bus stop and someone starts talking to you and getting way closer to you than you’re comfortable with. But if you told them to f*ck off, that would be really rude. However, both of these situations could be super dangerous, and if it’s a toss-up between offending someone, or potentially getting hurt, I think we all know which one you should pick.
4. It’s your reptilian brain talking.
Hi, so evolution is real. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, our brain has evolved a lot over time, but some stuff has stuck around. According to Psychology Today (and “scientists”), our intuition comes from the parts of our brain that have been around since prehistoric times. Studies have shown that bodily intuition predicts the right answer faster, and leads to better outcomes, than our analytical thoughts. The older parts of our brain evolved from the animals that trusted their gut and survived, so our intuition comes from a more experienced place than our ‘logic.’
I’m not going to pretend I’m a scientist (because I’m not), but I am an ~creative~ and what we know better than anyone else is how to follow our intuition. We build our creations around what feels right – walk around an art museum with any kind of creative and they’ll tell you which pieces speak to them, and which don’t. They won’t necessarily know why, but they’re so in touch with their intuition that they will have an answer for you no matter what.
The moral of the story is, trust yourself – whether your gut is telling you to break up with your girlfriend, quit your job, apply for that weird internship, take the longer route to your destination, or stay home and watch Netflix instead of going to that party. Your old brain wants you to be safe, and it’s probably right anyway.