I struggle sometimes with this topic because my mind demands logical answers to how I’m feeling and sometimes I can’t find those answers. That got me to ask why do we as human beings believe that rationality alone must drive our decisions? Why are we scared sometimes of following our instincts, our gut feeling, especially when it doesn’t align with our rational thinking?
I think the answer to these questions is simple. We’ve always been taught that we are superior to other creatures because we have a brain. That’s why using it and being rational and logical makes more sense to us than just following a feeling that we can’t decode. As a result of not knowing where that gut feeling comes from, we develop fear. Then we decide to ignore our instincts.
I sometimes get hunches about some people in my life and I can’t explain them. I just feel different to some people as opposed to feeling nothing for others. I’m talking about people I’ve never met or spoken to before. I feel like I can talk to them, I can trust them to a certain point and just feel comfortable enough around them. To some this may sound illogical. How can you by just looking at a person tell all that?
Those feelings that we get are actually our subconscious working in the background, compiling everything we know or we’ve seen in our life that looks similar to that person or that situation. It’s not just compiling it’s also assessing that information and as a result giving us the hunch or that gut feeling. Let me also say at this point that there’s’ a difference between instinct, intuition and a hunch. The difference is in the size of information being processed in the subconscious and the reaction that we feel or we get. I am using the words here similarly in the concept of the subconscious but there are a lot of discussions out there that go further into the details of these expressions.
So with all that said, let me tell you something that happened with me just over a year ago. I was in Istanbul and I had parted with my friends to walk around the city. I was following the trail of Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s Inferno! Anyway, I was stopped by an man who asked me to take a picture of him. He seemed in his early sixties and very friendly. After that was over, he thanked me and said he noticed an American accent so I told him I was from Lebanon. We started chatting a little about our backgrounds and when he found out I was chasing specific places in the city he offered to show me around.
Now I know what you’re all thinking! It’s not very wise to go with a stranger you just met around a city where you know no one and do not even speak the language. Well, except for the word thank you.
Yes, you are 100% right. it’s not wise. We’ve been told all our life not to trust strangers. Maybe be kind enough to help but not go further than that. Especially in a world where criminals, rapers and psychopaths roam freely. I did think about all that. I thought that if I get kidnapped “thank you” in Turkish is most probably not the word I’d want to use!
I struggled for a split second there to make my decision. My instinct said “yeah go. I know it’s too good to be true but I’m telling you just go”. At that stage my mind sensed that I was surrendering to my instincts and I started thinking: Well, it’s 60 year old guy. You can definitely take him down with the few tricks you learned in that body combat class you barely attend. So the decision was yes!
The guy showed me the places I wanted to see. He also took me to an antique bookshop where everything smelled so old (passion alert!). He was such a gentle man and offered to grab my arm while taking a walk around the old streets. We later sat in the oldest coffee shop in Istanbul and he ordered Turkish coffee for the both of us. It was so nice that I didn’t want to tell him I’m not a big fan of coffee! We sat there and I swear I had the most intellectual conversation with him over so many different topics. There was never a dull moment. He later told me he was a professor at the university of Istanbul and was retiring soon so wanted to start a blog as a hobby to write about the places he’s been to, hence the pictures!
Bottom line, yes, it was very scary and dangerous as well, but taking the risk and going with my gut feeling lead to the most amazing afternoon I had that whole trip. Something that I will never forget! I remember thinking at that moment about how incredibly beautiful that feeling you get when you connect with people you barely know. I actually became addicted to it, that on my next vacation I went by myself and met so many new people!
As troubling as it is sometimes to think where that feeling is coming from, I’ve learned with time to completely trust my instincts. I do though still get the usual lecture from my Mom about how I shouldn’t be the very friendly me all the time. But hey, she’s my Mom!
At the end of the day, it’s a balance between being rational and smart enough to assess the situation and trusting you intuition. I think with that you have the perfect conditions to taking good decisions. So brains, and gut feeling over fear. Unless your gut feeling tells you to be afraid, then by all means run!
So after all that, I am interested in knowing what you guys think about this. I feel so strongly about this topic, especially when it comes to people, because it has lead me into so many different situations. This is all my interpretation of it but it would be great to listen to some of your similar stories and see your take on it! Drop a comment below or send me an email and tell me all about it.