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Why your Gut Feeling is more Powerful than Logic

“Gut feeling” is that powerful inner feeling that we feel we must follow. Logic and reason is something we follow with the hope it will work out.

Sometimes, when we listen to that urge to do something without further consideration, we discover that our thinking was spot on. That’s how we begin to trust our gut - after using all our resources.

Psychology tells us that most of our decisions are based on an emotional response to the object that we are looking at.

The problem is that many people believe that gut feeling, or emotional decisions will lead them into trouble.

What they don’t realize is that any decision we make is based on an emotional need.

The initial thoughts about a decision may have been intellectual and logical, but the final handshake was a hearty feeling that everything is right, so just going ahead with the action will bring desired results.

Gut feelings are always the result of summing things up, a strong intuitive feeling, an urge if you like, is the result of a lot of weighing up of facts and figures. So trusting this powerful desire to do something can often lead to a good decision.

People who trust themselves listen to gut feelings more than those who don’t. The trust we develop comes through experience and risk taking with positive outcomes.

People working on the stock market have to make rapid decisions. Throughout an average working period they are forced into making decisions that could costs themselves and clients enormous amounts of money.

They have no time to check every statistic at hand, so they trust their gut, do a rapid calculation that they can’t express on paper, and just go for it with a buy or sell decision. Traders do this all of the time, and they survive in the jungle for years.

A naysayer would never trust a gut feeling simply because there’s no proof of an outcome. People who are negative about changes in their lives often like to help others by advising them to avoid action too. “Don’t do it!”, “I’ve been there, done that, it’s a bad deal.”, can often mean that they themselves avoided it and feel lucky to have escaped the experience.

A person who trusts themselves might listen to the gut feelings that drive them, then they go ahead and find out that the outcome is quite different to the naysayer’s prediction.

Going with the gut feelings that we experience after weighing up logical reasons, can sometimes feel like a risky way to go. But considering that while we are thinking logically about something, we are also dealing with faulty information — therefore, our logic is far from scientific. You can’t believe that all the facts are on the table, and that there are no more elements to the baffling puzzle to consider.

Most people can’t really think logically. It’s not a discipline that gets taught at school, and people don’t spend their time practicing logic as a hobby. In spite of this, many people believe themselves to be logical thinkers. They pride themselves on their ability express themselves in a logical way.

The fact is, people often mistake logic with their ability to formulate a series of connecting ideas as an opinion. An expression of a popular opinion, “everybody knows it’s true”, is a non-logic which will lead a person into trouble.

This is were gut feeling tends to give us a helpful prompt towards positive or negative outcomes of an action we are considering to undertake.

A good gut feeling that comes from life experience would quickly let you know that it’s not possible that everybody knows it to be true.

The gut feeling that most of us experience — to do something, or to avoid an action, are often the powerful impulses of the unconscious that we have been waiting for.

Such gut feelings present themselves normally after a long and intense thinking phase.

It’s at this point in the thought process that we should allow the emotions to kick in and help us out.

The ability to delve deeply into a subject and mull over all the ins and outs is a very human thing, while we are doing this our conscious mind is being overloaded with data. To deal with the data we automatically use the process of critical thinking which helps us sort one idea against another idea.

Even when we encounter an idea that seems to be very new, and our gut tells us that there’s no time to think, just make a decision, and run with the ball. The process to get to gut feeling decision making made on the basis of memories develop a powerfully positive motivation to go ahead and take action.

The idea being thought about, the fast decision process, was all recognizable to the mind and the information to make a wise decision was available in the brain’s memory.

In such situations, people often tell us that there was nothing to think about, they just knew it was the right decision. Yet, the decision had to come from somewhere.

Robert Cialdini, in his book, “Pre-suasion”, points out that most buying decisions are made with the emotions. In fact, that all decisions are based on an emotional response to the product or the next course of action.

Buying something, or making decisions to involve ourselves in another person’s ideas by buying into their point of view, is a decision making process.

In his book, which is about how to persuade a client into buying something, and the tricks of the trade used to lever that persuasion, he points out that there are basically six methods that we use, many instinctively, to get a person to buy our product.

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment
  3. Social Proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking
  6. Scarcity

So, when we look at how we make a gut feeling decision we are also taking into consideration who we are talking to. Is that person working hard at influencing our feelings — our feelings is where their sales pitch should be focused on, anyway.

Are they trying to persuade us to make a decision based on their needs or can we trust our gut enough to go into the conversation, and make a useful decision that benefits both of us?

All of the above factors used in selling are emotional factors. Logic sells nothing.

The big one, reciprocity, will make a play for your feelings of being a nice guy. If you are given something, an object or information, for free, you will feel obliged. You receive and you are motivated to give back.

Next time a person close to you gives you a kiss, try and avoid returning the kiss, see how you feel. Like a rat.

After that feeling is instilled in your mind a good sales person would use commitment to help you think about buying, or seriously considering buying. You didn’t think that you get things for nothing, did you?

If you allow yourself to be taken by the salesperson’s authority on their subject, and you already believe that you are probably the last person on the planet to be considering buying this rare product, then you’ve already lost track of any chance that your gut feelings will get you out of this mess. But maybe that’s not true.

The whole point of our gut feeling is to protect us from acting like dorks and to help us to make smart decisions in high pressure situations, like when we meet an adept salesperson who’s going for the “Salesperson of the Year” award.

The environmental factors are part of the sales process, too. Any sign of a hard-sell, and your memory banks will start sending you conscious signals that warn you to be aware of a false factor in the process.

False factors can be recognized in sales processes that work on reciprocity after the initial sale, then the sales person might expect to pounce on that moment and get an upsell within minutes after the first main sale was made. Think door to door sales people who need to close a sale as often as possible within a short period of time.

This feeling of pressure can also be experienced when we are reading a well formulated advertisement. A long sales letter on a subject that really interest us, an advert that makes us feel like we’ve just discovered something we’ve hunted after for a long time.

The book trade use scarcity as their marketing model. Each book that they present to the public with big marketing money, a Stephen King for example, will be marketed in a way as if they have found a new diamond.

If you don’t buy and read the book, you are missing out on a rare gem of a story, and it’s probably the story of the century.

You can only buy the book through their channels, and it won’t necessarily be re-published after the first editions have sold out.

That’s putting you under pressure to make a quick gut feeling decision, a decision that you may not want to make.

The publisher knows that most people have heard of, or read, Stephen King’s novels.

The public’s opinion is that his books are great entertainment when sitting alone late at night in a spooky house. Everybody knows that, right?

The marketing relies on your gut feelings having already made a decision on facts known. The purchase should be spontaneous, as the fact finding and weighing up process was already made after you first read a Stephen King novel, or had a conversation with a friend about his stories.

If you enjoy horror books you’ll seriously consider buying the book on a gut feeling decision.

The person who I earlier mentioned, the naysayer, won’t consider it, even if they know the author and the genre of story. Their emotional-block which helps them protect themselves from everything that life has to offer is so strong, that they would rather miss out on a good read than risk spending some money. Their gut tells them that enough people will buy the book, and they will borrow from a friend.

The emotional response that we experience when making important consideration, staving off the point where we make a final decision, are not only weighing up the facts between themselves, like a set of objects to shuffle about.

Our brain is also using a mental schema concept of the situation to weigh up how it fits in with our self image. Who we are defines a lot about what we do, what we buy, and how we live.

If we make a bad decision, we tend to feel negative about the event afterwards. This is because we have done something that goes against our set of inner rules that drive our emotional balance. We feel good about who are when we get it right. But we will experience feelings of stupidity and blame ourselves for decisions that create discomfort and which demand that we adapt in a way that doesn’t meet our schema of life.

The self-image that we have developed is based on our perceptions, biases, and our experiences that we have used to build this self-concept. If that deeper part of ourselves is threatened through bad decisions, or false actions, it will feel like an attack on our self-integrity. Principled living matters.

Our gut feeling is an important part of our processing mechanism. It can express itself through any of the emotions. It wants to protect the self-concept we have and help us to express ourselves according to our own belief system.

I am very visual, so I feel that I’m right about something when I get a powerful image in my mind about something that I need, or have been thinking about.

If I’ve been in a conversation with a person, I can often replay the whole conversation again and again. During the replay, parts of the conversation that become clearer and louder will begin to bug me, or nag at my mind. I know something is wrong. My gut tells me so.

This can also be a visual cue in the speaker’s actions — something they did that is not congruent, or harmonious with their words.

I then go back to the logic of their words and discover that there is a massive leap in the narrative, or a contradiction, just a tiny piece of information that acts like a spanner in the works.

It doesn’t matter what the person told me, who they are, or how much I love them or not, my gut will tell me that everything that happened in the conversation is null and void. So I make a good decision to forget it, or go back and hold a new conversation where I’m more wary, but also more in control.

People have different ways of perceiving their environment. Some feel emotions physically, some people are tactile and use that to confirm things and understand things. Auditory people listen, and speak little. What people say is highly important to them.

The different emotional vehicles that we use to interpret the world around us dominate our feelings, but all of them are used in a combination of information gathering. Listeners also enjoy the feeling of a cold glass of beer on a hot day, but instead of telling you how they feel about it, they might ask you to tell them what you feel.

I once asked a client if he could visualize an object so that it meant something emotionally to him. He shrugged his shoulders and slapped his belly, and told me that everything, just everything, in life comes through his gut. He feels strongly about his environment, but all of it is a physical feeling that relays ideas to his brain — without images.

Scientific Studies indicate that gut-feeling is another word for interoceptive sensation . It describes how the bundles of feelings that are the results of gathering facts and information logically about an idea or situation can be expressed as an emotional urge to do something.

Our reaction to the situation can be negative, or positive based on those feelings.

Studies also show that people in high pressure jobs are often right in their decision making more than they are wrong, and use gut feeling to make decisions more than using coldly calculated logic.

Interoceptive sensations describe the emotional state of organs in the body. The heart rate, the blood flow and brain activity etc. When these feelings which were initiated by an outside factor become bundled into an expression, we feel it as a positive or a negative emotion. Our reaction to it is determined by our needs.

If it fits our schema of things, our self-image, our self-esteem, we will determine through gut feeling that it’s a positive experience for us to become involved in.

If it’s negative. We will know. It won’t help us, and it will damage or cause conflicts that we don’t want to become involved in. So we leave it, or correct the narrative to straighten things out with another person.

Human emotions are powerful motivators, gut feelings are an emotional tool that helps you and I survive and thrive in life.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living

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