When it comes to making really tough decisions, go ahead and ask for advice. Ask your friends, your family, and even strangers on social media. In the end, though, it’s important to trust your gut. It will rarely steer you wrong.
Trust Your Gut When It Comes to Tough Decisions
Trusting your gut is always good advice, but when it comes to major life decisions, going with your instincts will get you a lot farther than trusting the advice of strangers, friends, or even family. Even science tends to agree. A study done by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University found that “intuition alone can guide the right choice.” What do we do when our instincts tell us the exact opposite of what we really want to happen, though? That’s where things get really tricky.
Let’s take current events as an example (if you’re reading this decades from now, just look up “what happened in 2020?” and prepare for your jaw to hit the ground). Spend five minutes on Facebook and you’ll come across dozens of posts from frazzled and freaked-out parents trying to figure out what to do with their kids this fall.
Do we send them back and hope for the best because we want them to have normal school experiences, socialization, and- of course- a quality education? Or do we keep them home? Do the albeit-major benefits of in-person instruction outweigh the very terrifying potential cons? We ask for advice, find out what everyone else is planning to do, and practically beg for someone to come up with the perfect answer that satisfies both what we want for our kids and what they need from us.
I think we already know the answer (and it could be different for each of us) deep in our guts, and what we’re actually looking for is validation that it’s the right decision. Seeking that validation can have a major consequence, though, if we let others talk us out of going with our instincts.
Never let anyone talk you out of going with your gut
Nine times out of ten, I think when we ask for advice, it’s not because we want someone to tell us what to do. Rather, we want them to tell us that what we already instinctively think we should do is the right choice. It’s a normal, natural, and even biologically driven thing to do.
The problem with that? Not everyone will agree with you, and at least one person will disagree so vehemently and even so eloquently that you’ll start to doubt your own instincts. “Could they be right? After all, some of what they’re saying does make sense,” you start to think. Maybe you’re being irrational, looking at the wrong factors. Perhaps you’re letting fear control your life. Maybe, just maybe, your gut is wrong after all.
Let me save you some trouble- when it comes to your life and your family, you (and your spouse, if applicable) alone know what is best. After all, it’s YOUR family that either reaps the rewards or lives with the consequences of that choice. How will you feel if you let others talk you out of your gut instincts and those consequences result in unspeakable and unimaginable tragedy?
Gut instinct is our brain’s way of telling us “that’s the right choice”
There has to be a reason human biology decided to connect a nerve from the gut to the brain beyond just acting as a GPS system to help us find food. Maybe it’s there so that our brain can give it a bit of a tug to let us know which solution to a problem is the best.
Think about it- our brain does a lot that we’re not even aware of. It works out problems in our dreams and our subconscious, even when we’re not directly thinking about an issue. In fact, one research study suggests that the vast majority of our decision-making is actually handled by “unconscious mental activity.”
So, theoretically, our subconscious mind already made that “pros and cons” list that we keep putting off. Then, when we actively think about our options, our brain tugs on that gut nerve to say, “yep, that’s the best one!” Of course, that’s theoretical. Totally plausible, but still just my own theory. So, let’s quickly take a look at what else science says about gut instincts.
A University of Leeds study found that intuition isn’t just something pseudoscience touts, it’s “…the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision – but one that happens so fast the reaction is at a non-conscious level. All we’re aware of is a general feeling that something is right or wrong.”
A Boston College study found that trusting your gut based on expertise may “deliver better results” than over-analyzing a problem. When it comes to your family, there’s no better expert than you.
Trust your gut, but do your research
Before closing, I will add one caveat to trusting your gut- make sure you do your research first. After all, your brain can’t make an accurate subconscious “pros and cons” list without all of the necessary information. Think about it this way- you wouldn’t buy a house after looking at just the photo just because your gut said “that’s the one.” Nor would you take a job without finding out the hours, salary and benefits just because your instincts said, “Hey, that sounds fun!” So, give your brain everything it needs to make that mental list, then trust what it tells you.
Go ahead and ask for advice. Seek that validation if you must. Definitely do your due diligence and make sure you have all of the facts. But ultimately, trust your gut. It will almost never steer you wrong.
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