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Monday, July 16, 2012

Increase your Intuition By Learning the Difference Between Emotional Feelings and Gut Feelings

There are a multitude of bloggers out there writing little articles everyday on gut feelings, gut instincts and intuition. I have been out there searching for them and joining in on the discussions where I can. I am finding that people are beginning to recognize that they truly do have gut instincts and that they mostly like it, but also they know they do not understand them. And perhaps one thing I am most pleased about is that people are recognizing that gut instincts are important in their lives—that they are important to at least listen to—although recognizing and expressing some concern that they do not fully understand them. 
Dr. Daniel Goleman was the first to popularize the understanding in psychology that our feelings and thinking are different and that it is important to learn the difference, to increase emotional intelligence, which he linked to success and healthy living. Up until Goleman's work, we had the theories of Type of Dr. Carl Jung that pointed to the difference in Thinking (logic) and Feeling (value) as functions, and, working off that, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Although quite valuable, Jung's theories did not make a clear distinction showing that feelings are in the body and logic in the head brain. After a number of years of an active humanistic movement, people slowly began learning in the 70s and 80s the difference in their body and head responses, feeling and thinking. But now, it seems we may be finally understanding that we need to go a little further with our Emotional Intelligence and learn the difference in the emotions and in the gut feelings. When I speak of our gut feelings, I am talking about the emptiness/fullness feeling in the gut that is related to our inner needs for and to a balance of being in control of our responses to life—freedom—and for the need for acceptance, rather than the emptiness that is due to the lack of food intake we often mistake it for and thus find ourselves over-eating. Until we reflect upon our gut feelings of emptiness and fullness and reassess our past through somatic reflection, our intuition will be clouded with old inaccurate patterns of memories in our thinking and our intuition just will be unclear as well.  
Gut feelings have no thinking component like emotions do, gut feelings are pure feeling of emptiness or fullness and the source of all feeling in emotions. Emotions are generally felt above the gut, above the hara, and are a combination of feeling from the gut and thinking from the head, i.e. fear, emptiness in feeling combined with a projection from the head as to a specified threat. Gut feelings are pure feeling and relate to the state of the human organism (it is your truth, so to speak, related to your needs for acceptance and control). It can take quite a bit of reflection on our gut feelings to begin to understand this, to see this in your own experience, particularly if one is not use to exploring feelings and distinguishing the difference in emotions and gut feelings. But just like it is so important to understand the difference in thinking and feeling to increase our intelligence, it is important to take the time to understand the difference in emotional feelings and gut feelings to further increase our intelligence and facility that we may like to call "Intuition". So, we may have increased our "Emotional Intelligence" by understanding the difference in our thinking and feelings or emotions, but let's go further and increase our "Intuitive Intelligence" by understanding and reflecting upon the difference in our emotional feelings and gut feelings.
Simply said, we need to explore our gut instincts, not just use them with some vague idea of what they are. One really has to "Know Thyself" and take the effort to do that inner work to use their gut feelings successfully in decision-making. There is much more to our gut instincts than just "pattern recognition brain impressions" as some bloggers on other websites have suggested, although these patterns are certainly a result of our gut intelligence combined with our thinking—and rather it is accurate thinking or not depends upon whether we use our gut feelings as a premise of our thinking or leave out the impact of experience upon us and marginalize our human needs as unimportant to consider in problem-solving. This all effects the accuracy and haze in these mental patterns and our ability to have and increase Intuitive Intelligence. 
We actually do have gut instincts, gut feelings, a "second brain" (see Gershon's work) that relates and records how well our instinctual human needs are being met (see our book "What's Behind Your Belly Button?", as well as one of our fellow blog member Grant Soosalu's book "mBraining", which I highly recommend). And it takes quite a bit of inner work to truly recognize them, to tell the difference in gut feelings from emotional feelings, and to understand what about you and your environment your gut feelings are expressing, to understand the impact of experience upon you. Bob and I have found as counselors, researchers, and educators over 40 plus years on this subject that people find that their intuition and healthy decision-making increases exponentially with somatic reflection on the awareness of one's gut feelings.  A reflection into one's past to reassess the meaning of our experiences and update our "thinking patterns", conscious and unconscious, is a healing and healthy experience.

We have included in "What's Behind Your Belly Button?" a technique—the Somatic Reflection Process—and discussion on increasing gut feeling awareness (understanding the difference in gut feelings and emotional feelings) and how through gut feeling reflection we "update" these old "patterns" in our thinking brain and increase our Intuition.
Martha Love

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  1. Martha this post is so profound I had to really think about this content. I know that gut instincts exist and they are certainly an active emotion with me.
    Thank you for drawing the parallels to these two feelings and making everyone think about the differences.
    Very enlightening.
    I am following you for more!
    Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

  2. Thank you, Roesmary, for your comment and for joining us. So happy to be connected and that you found this article of value to you is wonderful to hear. It is difficult and strange enough for us to begin thinking of ourselves with multiple brains, as in the head and gut brains, but to also grasp that our gut feelings are different from our emotional feelings (although they relate) just adds another layer to our consciousness of our human nature.

  3. A lot of food for thought there and it reminds me a lot of some of Chopra's thinking. I'm following you and I look forward to your future posts!


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