Recently, I had a conversation with my best friend where she said something I found fascinating. “My gut instinct is telling me two things.”

Which is funny, because your instinct typically only goes one way. But, your head and your heart can often go off in their own directions, making it hard to hear what you need to know. You second guess yourself. You start thinking about your options. What other people would think of you. What society dictates is “correct”. And inevitably, you lose that direct connection to what you know to be the best path for you…and lose yourself along the way.

So I wanted to explore internally how to know when you are overthinking or when you really are dealing with your gut instinct.

Your head

Your head is going to be the most logical of the three voices talking to you internally. It will weigh up the pros and cons, and often will decide on the safest call to action. This is also known as your ego

Your ego is designed to protect you and keep you safe, whatever the cost. Your ego will keep you small, if necessary. It will keep you scared. That’s how we used to survive as cavemen, by listening to our ego. But now, we don’t face the same challenges and ego – a lot of the time, not all the time – will hold us back. 

Your heart

Your heart is a soft organ that works goddamn hard, day in, day out. So it will often choose the easiest path. The one that not only protects you but also keeps you wrapped in cotton wool. The more wrapped and protected you are, the less damage you can do to your psyche and emotions. 

This will also – on many occasions – hold you back. 

Your gut instinct

Your gut instinct is determined. It doesn’t matter what your head and your heart say, it will stubbornly continue to provide you nourishment, and constantly nudge you in the right direction. Those little niggles that constantly plague you? Well, until you deal with them, your gut isn’t going to let up. 

You’ll keep experiencing more things in life that will force you to face what your gut is screaming at you to pay attention to. It will be relentless in its pursuit. You will feel sick when you go directly against what it is telling you. Because deep down in those guts of yours, you know it’s right. 

The funny thing is, the more you nourish your gut instinct, pay attention to it, listen to it, act on it – the more it will nourish you in turn.

So which one should I listen to?

By now, I’m sure you can tell I’m not talking about the physical organs, though there are aspects of them that are reflected in the psychological analogies. Instead, I’m talking about “your head, heart and gut” and who to listen to when you are making a decision. 

Excuse the pun, but it’s a no-brainer. 

You always go with your gut instinct. Your intuition. Your internal guidance. Your personal compass. Because this is YOUR life and only you know which direction you must go in to feel fulfilled.

How can you tell that it’s your gut instinct and not the other two? Simple. It won’t give you an answer that is safe or easy. In fact, more often than not, it will give you an answer that terrifies you. 

But that’s how you grow.