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Daniel Hall

Scholarship Chair, Kappa Sigma

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Is the "gut instinct" real?

Many times I find myself or others saying "I should have gone with my gut" but what is often missed is the fact that this only happens when a mistake is made. For example one might choose door number one, then find out door number two was the correct answer, and only then feel that the gut instinct was ignored. The real question being asked here is when someone speaks of this gut instinct, is it, for lack of better words, a "supernatural" like phenomena, or is it simply regret of not going with what pops into the head first?

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    Jul 1 2012: The question of whether the gut instinct is real is one that each of us has to answer ourselves, otherwise it is to us just a fantasy of someone else's thinking. That said, I have studied, in working as a counselor, gut feelings and instincts associated with those feelings for the past 40 yrs (it is my life passion) and am convinced that the feelings of emptiness and fullness in the gut relates to not just the need for food intake, but also for two basic instinctive needs of the human being, thus there are definitely gut instincts. Here is a brief outline of what I found with hundreds of people reflecting on their gut feelings:
    1. The gut is the instinctual response center and we feel either empty or full or somewhere in the middle (imagine a gas gauge) in our gut at all times.
    2. We feel full when our instinctual needs are met and empty when they are not. We are talking not just about food intake (although the feeling of emptiness and fullness in relation to food intake and psychological instinctual needs are interestingly similar and we do get them confused and thus may over eat to try to fill the emptiness we feel psychologically). We are talking about psychological instinctual needs—psychological not in the use of logic but in our needs as human beings.
    3. We have two instinctual needs that the gut gauges—the need to feel accepted and the need to be in control of our own responses to life. These two needs must be constantly in balance. Too much of one without the other leaves us empty.
    4. When we have both of these instinctive needs met, we feel full and thus energized; and when we have neither met, we feel empty and often experience some symptoms of stress in the body like feeling lethargic, anxious, overwhelmed, disconnected and alone.
    Intuition seems to increase as we become more aware of these gut feelings. There is unfortunately not enough room remaining to go on, but there's much more and you may read it on my website or book listed on my Ted Profile.

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