Never ignore gut-feel

Never ignore gut-feel

We all have agendas, several of them. Top of our personal agenda is survival. Pleasure and comfort follow close behind. We are aware that others have agendas too, though we spend little time trying to see what they are. Not only do we not know other people’s agendas, we often barely know our own. Can you see your agendas clearly right now? Probably not. That’s because some of our agendas are subliminal.

Experience, if properly handled, allows us to guess someone else’s agenda. When we do this unconsciously we call it ‘gut-feel’. It’s a semi-instinctive forecast of what that person’s actions or motives may be. Sometimes our gut-feel isn’t very nice. In fact, we can feel quite ashamed of it. Attributing nasty motives to friends and acquaintances is not what we want to do. We want to trust people and we want them to trust us. It doesn’t always work like that.

I’ve had a good example of unwanted gut-feel quite recently. Someone I knew well for many years, and liked, fell on hard times, mostly, but not all, of his own making. We helped him as much as we could and so did many others. He sank to a low level, saw the raw side of life, became alcoholic and had other personal problems as well. He kept a certain dignity and belief about himself and pulled out of the trough into which he had sunk.

Prior to his downfall he had been a feisty fellow, confident, almost excessively so, jolly and caring but very ambitious, too. As he began to recover I noticed a return of the feistiness, a burgeoning of renewed self-confidence. I rejoiced that this should be so. We do not want to see people cowed and losing their faith. Then I began to be concerned. What had led to his downfall was an excess of exuberance. This almost certainly arose from insecurity.

Were we now to see a return to excessive confidence? Rehabilitation would involve investment and he had no money. So he would have to borrow or persuade people to invest in his new ventures. Of course he would need confidence to do that, but just how much was the right amount? I found myself advising people I thought he could approach to be wary of investing in what might be excessive exuberance. I didn’t like myself for that.

This particular saga has yet to be played out. I may be totally wrong. He may maintain a very sober balance in his life from now on. I do hope so. But I have experienced enough to know that I should pay heed to the gut-feel and not ignore it. Its message can be important.

When you have a gut-feel that something isn’t quite right don’t ignore it. Even if you are ashamed of your judgment, pay attention. Your gut-feel will not always be right.

When it is, it is essential.