Hump Day: Personal intuition often a trustworthy guide to decisions

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I’ve always been fascinated by what we call the “gut instinct.” Some say it’s God. Some say it’s our guardian angels or spirit guides. Some say it’s just experience talking. Others — well, they just say you ate too much pizza at lunch and need an antacid.

As I’ve garnered more experience in life, my gut instinct has grown over time. I just get that feeling that something is not right. Perhaps that person is just not right. Or perhaps that contract is just not right, or that job. And no, I don’t mean they’re not right for anyone, just for me at that particular time.

Our life is made up of many building blocks and they don’t all necessarily fit together well. Trouble comes when we try to jam two things together that just don’t fit. If it’s not so obvious that we can overtly see it, then we feel it. Let’s just say that, over the years, I’ve learned to listen — and listen good! — when that little voice inside me says, “Don’t do it!” Every time I neglect to heed its warning, I regret it.

A few years ago, I inexplicably felt the need to take a long detour back to my home even though I was practically right there. I wasn’t sure why. I just felt an urge to go the other way and take the “insanely long” way home, and I say “insanely” because if you saw where I lived and saw how close I was when I decided to detour, you would have thought that I was either wasting gas or avoiding going home for some reason, or perhaps just plain crazy. (Not the first or last time I’ll be accused of that.)

After I took the ridiculous detour (at least ridiculous at face value), I spied a number of ambulances and police cars near the overpass I would have driven under had I taken my original route. At about the same time I would have driven under it, a car lost control on the overpass, went over the side and crashed onto the street, ending up on the side of the road.

I saw the incident. Blinked a few times and muttered a grateful “Thanks!” to the unseen friend or friends who’d put it into my mind not to drive under the overpass at that moment.

In fact, many of my gut feelings relate to driving. Don’t drive here. Don’t drive there. And then I’ll hear of an accident that took place right around that time. Often, I’ll inexplicably look somewhere and see a car coming toward me so that I have to swerve.

Back in June when my father had a seizure at a coffee shop I brought him to due to an undiagnosed brain tumour, he looked so awful before we got into my vehicle to go there that I told myself that it was the last time I was going to take him out. He was just too slow and obviously going downhill health-wise.

How right I was. Within 30 minutes of us leaving his special care home, he was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance. He never got out of the hospital and died a little less than three months later. That gut feeling that it was the last time I would be taking him to coffee proved to be very true.

Gut feelings also occur in business. Sometimes, that client just doesn’t feel right. It’s nothing against the client or potential client. Maybe they’re just not right for you. Usually, whenever I follow my gut instinct in business, I have not regretted it. It’s when I take on something that I have a nagging doubt about, that’s when I regret it. Trusting your inner instinct takes some confidence in yourself. That confidence comes with time.

The same can be said of romantic relationships. Just because someone’s a great person doesn’t mean they’re right for you. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that. “You’re great! You’re nice! You’re successful! You’re attractive!” And I could not care less about you in a romantic way. It’s all about life’s building blocks. Sometimes they fit together nicely and sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t mean they’re not valuable, they just belong somewhere else.

There are many more gut instinct examples that I could write about but I don’t keep track of them. I really should write them down. I’d probably be astonished at how often I’ve followed my instinct and been pleasantly surprised by the outcome. And by instinct, I mean that sometimes there’s evidence that would seem to imply that you should or should not do something, but your inner voice is telling you do the opposite because it just doesn’t feel right.

The older I get, the more I’ve learned to trust myself. It’s actually quite a nice feeling; a combination of life experience and intuition with a big dollop of the unexplainable thrown in there just to make it nice and interesting.

It’s kind of exhilarating when you against the grain of the obvious because you’re just not feeling it, only to be proven correct, like that big job they tried to hire you for and you turned it down because it didn’t feel right. And six months later, they’re out of business. Or maybe you felt the need to take another route home only to hear there was a huge accident that you likely avoided because you followed your instinct. Or maybe it’s just a person you met who gives you the willies . . . and a few months later you come to understand why.

Whatever the case, I think our intuition is a gift, some of it given by the unseen, some of it developed, and maybe even some of it based on evidence that we don’t even realize we’re evaluating unconsciously. Whatever the cause of our intuition, the key is to recognize it when it appears and to learn when to heed its advice.

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