We all have the power to collect cues subconsciously before we are actually aware of them; whether you call it a gut feeling, a hunch, a sneaky suspicion or the sixth sense, intuition offers a course of action without much rational thought. It can help you decide what you should embrace and what you should avoid long before you've had time to analyze the situation. And when it comes to our health and wellbeing, intuition is an extremely valuable asset.
We've heard a million stories where people reacted on intuition; a mother is bolted from sleep when her child is in silent distress, a nurse detects a patient's downward spiral long before lab tests were ever ordered, an emergency responder is compelled to recheck a previously searched building. But one of the most powerful benefits of intuition is its ability to alert us as to what’s going on inside our bodies. Harnessing your intuition can get you to the doctor sooner, prevent certain illnesses from progressing and protect you from harm or death. It can also guide you to choose healthy relationships, including one with your doctor.
The Idea Behind Intuition
We subconsciously adjust our behavior many times a day. In fact, shortcuts like these were probably an evolutionary survival mechanism that allowed us to react quickly to dangerous external stimulus. Everything about the environment – what you see, feel, smell and touch – is instantaneously computed.
How the brain makes these unconscious decisions is just beginning to be understood. The brain is a highly organized storage facility capable of evaluating and filing every experience. For efficiency purposes, the brain also has a fondness for patterns; all new experiences are quickly matched against ones that have already occurred. Intuition allows you to cut to the chase, act faster and use less energy.
The reason for that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach is because, much like the brain, the gastrointestinal tract is home to an abundant network of nerves, which is why it is often called the "second brain." So when the brain receives certain input from the environment, a surge of nerve activity travels via the vagus nerve into your core, causing that "gut" feeling.