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What you didn’t know about gut feelings

Gut feelings
Gut feelings

We are born with an innate ability to perceive danger and make the distinction between dangerous and safe situations. It is an internal barometer we each possess that includes a combination of facts, past experiences, perceptions and attitudes about ourselves, the people around,  our reality, and much more.

We refer to this barometer as a gut feeling, a reaction, and an instinct (sometimes unconscious) something we believe we have no control over or no way to manage, and with it the answer to the difficult problems we are faced each day. How many times have you heard throughout your life “Trust your gut!” The myth of the gut feeling is one that crosses cultural and geographical boundaries and one that people trust it and succeed and trust it and fail, everyday.

Figuring out what makes up your gut feelings is the first step in demystifying its’ magic aura and learning what specifically determines you to take the next steps in any given situation.

The reason why I think it’s important to address this issue, is because a lot of the decisions we make –and particularly important ones- are based, many times, on gut feelings rather than facts and evidence. When we say that those decisions failed us, we are the ones really failing ourselves. After we’ve failed, we feel like we can’t really trust ourselves so our confidence levels go down and feelings of self-loathing and insecurity ensue. This is quite the emotional roller coaster ride which brings with it further feelings of deep anxiety and depression. All of this could be avoided and prevented if we take the time to pay attention and be very clear about what makes up your gut feelings and what they are based on.

To be in control of your life is completely different than to feel in control of your life, the latter is authentic while the former is a surface statement.

If our experiences shape the lens from which we view the world, then everything we do is tinted by the lens we’re wearing. If we come from a family of divorce where the parents’ relationship was aggressive, we might look upon the prospect of marriage from a completely different perspective than say, someone who comes from a traditional family. And it is not only the nuances that you see that color your view subjectively, but also the fact that, many times, beyond the lens lies fear; we use it to protect ourselves from the mistakes we’ve seen others make as well as our own. The fear that we might not be good enough and that the fears we have will come true, no matter what they are. It is a combination of this fear along with the lens that affects your vision and your decisions.

Living in and with fear and dread is procrastinating at living and creating.

Gut feelings are not always that bad though, they sometimes predict positive outcomes that do come true.
The best way to get to use your gut feeling and logical mind is to be able to discern the context in which you experience it. Pay attention to the situations you’re in and try to relate it to something that feels similar to it, any aspect of it. Once you find it, pay attention to your emotional reaction to it, as best you can. When you’re able to do that, you can see how your decision is being affected and can choose your options accordingly.

What you didn’t know about gut feelings

Diana C. Pitaru, M.S., L.P.C.

“Diana” Diana Pitaru is a Romanian psychotherapist in private practice in Denver, Colorado. She writes about universal psychological issues that affect quality of life and impede the creative process. Passionate about psychology, philosophy, art, and culture and how these areas connect to improve mental health, Diana offers support and insight to creative adults and teens who struggle with identity/existential issues and in relationships, have a history of trauma, or suffer with depression or anxiety. You can find her Denver practice at

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APA Reference
, . (2015). What you didn’t know about gut feelings. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Feb 2015
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