Why Science Says: Trust Your Gut

We all get “gut feelings” or hunches about certain people, or even business ventures, but should you trust these feelings? Science says there is actually a logic behind it. It is based on the types of memories your brain forms.

Your brain has two types of memory: Explicit and Implicit.

Explicit memory is the conscious intentional recollection of events, while implicit is an unconscious type of memory.

Remembering what kind of coffee you had this morning would be explicit memory while remembering how to ride your bike is implicit memory. Another way to put it would be to say that when you study for a test you explicitly focus your memory into remembering, while remembering random lyrics or having a scent remind you of something would be implicit. Implicit memory is everything your brain absorbs effortlessly, subconsciously.

Implicit memory is what gives you that gut feeling about things: it is the that unconscious part of your brain trying to tell your conscious self information.

This implicit memory can turn into a second instinct that will warn you of danger. It was what some of our ancestors used to survive, that quick gut instinct impulse that drove them to make better, sometimes life saving decisions. Today, our gut instinct still warns us of danger, or wether a person is to be trusted or not. Don’t ignore this feeling! It’s not just your imagination, it is your implicit memory telling you information about this person because your subconscious easily picks up on cues that your logical conscious mind doesn’t.

So when should you trust your gut specifically?

Listen to your feelings and discern wether it is fear talking or that sweet little helper: implicit memory.

Fear will have a gut feeling of worry about past or future events.

Fear based gut feelings will feel like:

  • lead, weight feeling in your gut
  • like you can’t move forward
  • make you feel stuck
  • they have a shrinking feeling inside like you want to hide

Though fear can be helpful, it often arises when we are faced with new situations and our brain doesn’t want to deal with them. It could be getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech, or doing something you’ve never done before. It can be an indicator to keep going if you know that it is just nervousness and logically this would be a good decision for you. On the other hand, if you get the feeling of wanting to get away from a person immediately, then that might be your implicit memory picking up on cues about the dangerous nature of that person or situation.

Implicit memory, thought it may be based on past events or unconscious cues, will be more akin to “intuition” and it will feel:

  • Affirmative
  • Non biased or judgmental
  • To the point
  • It’s that last tidbit of information that you get lightning quick about a subject or person
  • It is based on the present moment
  • feel “right”
  • you feel expanded inside and it feels good to follow it

Though it is up to you to learn to distinguish between simple fear based gut feelings, and actual implicit memory, this can be a helpful skill that will help you maneuver through life. Listen to your gut! Scientifically speaking, it is your subconscious picking up on very real cues.



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