Gut Feeling

Have you ever walked into a room of new people and seen someone you felt you should avoid? Ever sensed where your car was in a shopping centre car park, even though hours of shopping had spun you around and you forgot where you parked? Ever walked out of a job interview and knew you had the job? These are all gut feelings.

Harvard University and many other medical and scientific journals are just starting to prove what many of us have sensed for years. They are now discovering that our stomach and digestive system are actually made up of millions and millions of neurones that we thought were only found in the brain. They are now referring to the stomach as the “second brain”.

Some people who are either highly in tune with their bodies, hypersensitive, intuitive or empaths, already are nodding their heads. This makes sense to them. It feels obvious to me. I know when I go against my gut or my instinct; I always wish I had’nt. Even so far as the conversation I have at my front door nearly every day “ should I take a cardigan?” then I remember I live in Brisbane now, so the answer is mostly no.

Medical studies are just catching up with this theory about the gut brain connection. You can google gut/brain to see more of the studies and the experiments they are now conducting on the link between food and mood, and how depression and anxiety can stem from the gut. We are also finding out how over-prescription of antibiotics can now not only mess with your gut flora but as a consequence your emotions and mood. The amazing thing is that they have proven that by examining cells in the intestines that they are actually made up of millions of neurons, which previously were believed to be the cells only found in the brain. I’m no neuro-scientist, so you can have a look at some of the links, but finally there is proof. We need to start to trust our gut!

The simplified version of this, or how it was explained to me in a diagrammatic form is that in utero as the cells are growing and dividing, when the fetus looks like a little baby mouseling thing, half the cells morph into the head and half into the stomach. The cells split and divide and the neurons or previously what we called “brain cells” were split in two between the head and the belly. Shared cells in two different parts of the body. Scientists argue that this doesn’t mean the stomach can think, it just means it is capable of highly functioning tasks. Like the very un-sexy one of breaking down our food into a bolus or churning it into chyme in order to expel this in the form of waste from our body. I disagree; my stomach tells me stuff all the time. I ‘m only just starting to listen to it.

A few weeks ago I woke with an oppressive feeling of absolute darkness. I knew somebody was going to die but I didn’t feel it was in my family. It didn’t take me long to wonder as a few hours after not being able to shake this feeling, the terrorist attack happened on London Bridge. I actually told my husband that day as the feeling was so strong. Now that I have started to really listen to my inner voice, my intuition or my gut feelings, I feel that I need to know when they are true, just for proof. So telling someone, or even just writing it down is my validation.

Like most people in their twenties, I thought I knew everything. Whenever I felt anything, I pushed this down and overrode this with what I thought was my more superior brain. It got me into all sorts of trouble, with what I thought were the “best” friends or the most “adventurous” relationship or even the “perfect” job.

At the beginning of my career, when I worked in a job I had tired of, I was desperate to work in advertising. I had an interview with an agency where they liked my experience but assured me I would be bored. I was so full of youth and enthusiasm, I ignored this wisdom. It was an ad agency, it was my dream! They offered me a trial day to see what I thought. On a deeper level I knew it was wrong for me, a large corporate office based on the North Shore, all my friends were in the city, it was a longer commute, not a great increase in salary and the staff were a little less colourful than what I was used to.

The morning of the trial I was given two briefs. One was to write a piece on a rubber backed mat using the words “high traffic area” and the other was to celebrate the use of a revolving cloth towel dispenser in public bathrooms. I kid you not. I took my lunch break and phoned the receptionist from a pay phone. “I’m not coming back.”  I said into the orange mouth piece. “ We thought so, ” was his reply. Sometimes you just know.

When I overstayed in an unhealthy relationship, my body certainly let me know. If breaking out in hives wasn’t enough, vomiting every time he put the key in the door when he came home from work was a sure sign. I still told myself I was having an allergic reaction to some vitamins I was taking.  We make up all kinds of stories to justify our actions. Listening to my gut could have saved me many months of heartache.

I have also had days in the office where things didn’t feel right, where even though my brain told me it was just another day, my stomach would sink and lurch and tell me otherwise. Then a staff meeting would be called, an announcement made, restructure, redundancies etc. The gut knows things the brain doesn’t.

Many, many times I have ignored my gut, my inner voice or my instinct about someone or something. Now people who know me, get used to me saying “ I just know,” or “I’m pretty certain this is the right thing for you to do,” or “this just doesn’t feel right to me.” I am learning to trust it. So far it has always pointed me in the right direction. I certainly know when I go against it because things just don’t turn out right. My lesson in life right now is trust my gut.

I am a Brisbane based Counsellor, Massage Therapist, and Reiki Practitioner, currently exploring the areas of intuition in the role of energetic healing. For appointments see my website or email


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