6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Know When to Trust Your Instinct

UPDATED: May 28, 2019
PUBLISHED: May 20, 2019
Brain Gut Instinct

The Brain-Gut Connection

When we say we knew something in our gut, we’re not just talking metaphorically.

Husband-and-wife microbiologists Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.D.s, run Stanford University’s Sonnenburg Lab, which studies intestinal microbiota, and are the co-authors of The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health. As they explain, our brain and gut are connected by a vast network of neurons, chemicals and hormones. When we walk into our partner’s or boss’s office to discuss the latest sales figures, take one look at their gloomy expression and feel a tightening in our intestines, that’s evidence of the brain-gut axis in action.

Current research shows the axis works two ways, with the bacteria in our gut actually sending signals to the brain that affect mood and our worldview.

Besides being a strong argument to eat more probiotic-rich food like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, this research suggests those gut feelings are smarter than we might suspect.

Related: Go With Your Gut: The Science of Instinct

Know when to trust your instinct.

1. Am I really paying attention to what my gut is telling me about a decision, or am I rushing to judgment to stop feeling anxious?
2. Am I listening to my gut because I’m feeling lazy about supporting my feelings with facts, or do I really feel I know enough to make a call?
3. If I sit with this gut feeling for a few minutes and allow my head to kick in, will I allow my gut feeling to change?
4. Is my gut telling me what I believe to be true based on what I either know or can find out, or am I paying more attention to the truths of others?
5. Do I know enough about the decision to be able to defend it beyond saying “Trust me,” if challenged by others?
6. Is the information I am collecting to test my gut reaction causing my gut to become calm or is it giving it a flat or troubled feeling?

Related: 5 Times to Trust Your Gut

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.