Instincts are defined as a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency. We’re all born with instincts, some of us live by them, while others, never really pay attention to that tingling feeling in their gut.
The beauty of truly being in touch with your instincts requires staying in the present moment, as noted by Judith Orloff, PhD, a Los Angeles–based intuitive psychiatrist and author of Second Sight (Three Rivers Press, 2010). “Living more intuitively demands that you’re in the moment,” she says, “and that makes for a more passionate life.” Of course, gut instincts can be infallible. It’s correlated with the right brain’s skill of pattern identification. Something unfamiliar (but not dangerous) sets off a trigger from a familiar stressor, which cues you to reassess something that has gone unresolved in the past. It’s to your benefit to review triggers that slip up in your life because they can impinge on your ability to objectively trust your instincts.
Which brings me to the question, is there any science behind gut instincts? Social psychologist Dr. David Myers, of Hope College, points to the right brain. He explains, “the intuitive right brain is almost always ‘reading’ your surroundings, even when your conscious left brain is otherwise engaged. The body can register this information while the conscious mind remains blissfully unaware of what’s going on.” Jonathon Lehrer concurs, “you can ‘feel’ approaching events specifically because of your dopamine neurons. The jitters of dopamine help keep track of reality, alerting us to those subtle patterns that we can’t consciously detect.” An example of this would be something irregular in our environment, such as noticing a vehicle in front of you swerving in and out of a traffic lane; your instincts light up like a sign in Vegas. Lehrer says, at moments like this, your brain releases dopamine and suddenly you get a “weird” feeling which alerts you to slow down. In this situation, paying attention to your instincts can mean the difference between life and death. On a lighter note, your instincts might lead you to your soul mate or an amazing career opportunity.
From my perspective, people in Bay City and Matagorda tend to follow their instincts. Spoonbills reopened on Monday and Tuesday evenings several weeks ago. News of Edie’s decision ignited Facebook, and our instincts clearly indicated that we should run, not walk to land a table. For the last two weeks, I’ve found myself at Spoonbills surrounded by good eats, good friends and good times, simply by following my reliable instincts!
Published in the Bay City Tribune on June 26, 2016.