Everyone has unlimited access to their intuition. It’s a connection that you were born with. Sadly, for many, that connection to your intuition and inner wisdom gets fuzzy as you navigate your life and grow up.
As you learn to be “rational” and play by the rules, you may have chucked your intuition out the window. So, by the time you find yourself in your 20’s you might be pretty disconnected from your wellspring of self-knowledge. The cool thing is that as soon as you decide to, you can reconnect and recharge your touchstone; becoming the guru of your own self-awareness and intuition.
Head, Heart, and Gut
You have been born into a body, and that body operates a little like a tuning fork. Think back to a decision that you made that turned out to be the smartest choice you made. The decision was probably a whole body, “yes!” That’s because your brain doesn’t just live in that noggin on top of your body; it follows your spinal cord down, connecting to neurons in your heart, stomach, and intestinal systems. All of this is the system of our intuition and wisdom.
Once you engaged that big brain, it starts the process of looking at the situation from multiple angles. You begin getting multiple data points, talking to friends, doing research, and weighing out the pros and cons. However, your head alone isn’t enough, and if you have ever had that feeling that all the data says yes, but you are still at a no, you know this feeling. It’s only when the calm certainty of “yes” moves into your heart and gut that you feel ready to take action.
There is robust research now linking our cognitive function, i.e., thinking in our heads, to our emotional and relational center in our heart, and also with our self-preservation and action center in our gut. This complex linkage of neural networks is our whole brain, and when you engage your whole brain into making decisions and problem solving, you get a much more fabulous outcome. You touch into your own unique inner wise person.
I am adding research to this conversation because it shows the data that your head is probably wanting. In the research article, Head, Heart, and Gut in Decision Making: Development of a Multiple Brain Preference Questionnaire, by G. Soosalu, S. Henwood, and A. Deo, one quote stood out.
In our results showed very small percentages (only 4%) expressed a relatively balanced preference for head, heart, and gut together. Yet there are suggestions from both the leadership decision-making literature and psychiatric literature that effective and wise decisions require a balance and use of all three decision styles (Coget, 2011; Coget & Keller, 2010; Dotlich et al., 2006; Fenton-O’Creevy, Soane, Nicholson, & Willman, 2011) or a balance between rational and experiential/intuitive styles (Dane & Pratt, 2007; Freeman, Evans, & Lister, 2012; Hogarth, 2002; Shapiro & Spence, 1997).
This research speaks volumes about the benefits to everyone, leaders, parents, students, basically human beings across the spectrum in accessing their three brains in the decision making processes.
How the 3 Brains Work
How each section of our three brains working to help us make decisions requires a bit of breaking it down, to make sense. Let’s dive into the downlow of the article.
The Head Brain
The prime functions of the head brain.
- Cognitive perception. This includes pattern recognition, perception, cognitive functioning, as well as general awareness of the environment around you.
- Thinking. Your ability to reason, make abstract connections, analyze, and ultimately synthesize information.
- Make meaning. You are, after all, a meaning-making machine. Your ability to process language, generate narrative, and use metaphor comes from this innate ability.
The Heart Brain
The prime functions of the heart brain.
- Emotions. Your ability to process emotions such as anger, grief, joy, humor, jealousy, happiness, love, and hate.
- Values. The heart is the touchstone to processing what is important to you, your dreams, desires, and aspirations generate here.
- Relational affect. This speaks to how your heart impacts how you feel connected to others, whether you like/love/dislike someone or something, as well as your capacity for compassion and empathy. Read Increase Your Empathy for ideas on how to do more of this.
The Gut Brain
The prime functions of the gut brain.
- Identity. This is really an element of our sense of self. Your core understanding of who you are and what kind of person you want to be. And, at a deep visceral level, we can easily tell when something feels like “self” versus “not-self.”
- Self-preservation. The gut is well known for letting us know when we are hungry, and also it guides us with reactions like a sick stomach when we are nervous or scared. Your gut is highly sensitive to danger and safety, boundaries, and aversions.
- Taking action. Lastly, your impulse for action comes from this brain. Your gusty courage and the willingness to act gets engaged and activated, letting you know it’s time for movement.
Anytime you can use something that you already own, that generates from inside of you, and that can help you to access your intuition instantly… well that is fabulous. By asking yourself three pretty simple questions, you can get a lock on what you are feeling, thinking, and ready to act on.
- How happy is my head with this choice?
- Next, how happy is my heart?
- And then, you guessed it, how happy is my gut?
These become a simple way of getting clarity around how aligned each of your three brains is for any decision. With practice, this becomes a 30-second self-assessment. When the three brains are not in alignment, it is a great place to get curious. Example: My head is at a yes, my heart wants this super bad, but my gut is churning. What is my gut trying to tell me? Remember, if your gut is around self-preservation, then are you about to leave a job without a plan? Or are you getting ready to drop a lot of money on something that you need more intel on? Maybe you are about to leap into a relationship where you are ignoring red flags. This strategy works no matter the situation or the circumstances. You have the ability to connect to your intuition and use it to inform decisions. And, just between the two of us, you know when you know.
Develop Your Inner Wise Self
If it’s true that most of us believe what we tell ourselves, and it is, then growing our access to our intuition is crucial. Your inner wise self is both your birthright and your best friend. Learning to trust yourself, make decisions, and navigate to a happy life are all elements that are interwoven. Using your head, heart, and gut, feeling for alignment between these three brains, is a simple key to a fabulous life. You’ve got this!
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What opens up for you when you learn to trust yourself?
- How does trusting your intuition help you live a better life?
All Photo copyright retained by photo owners, everything else ©2014-2022 Lyssa deHart
article originally posted on Dec 2, 2019. Updated April 23, 2023.