I see a common pattern in my medical practice. I'll get through my intake, trying to understand all the elements of my patient's health: nutrition history, check; medical evaluation, check; stress and lifestyle, check. But something still bothers me. I can't put my finger on it, but my gut tells me there's something more. Out of nowhere, a question hits my lips, and before I know it, the stoic patient in front of me unleashes a flood of tears.
There are so many times when my gut, not my head, has led my decision making, life choices, and business development. There was the time I ordered a test that discovered a patient's prostate cancer way before anyone would even think about it—I know that saved his life. Or the time a patient's name randomly hit my mind, encouraging me to have my nurses follow up—only to find that the patient was struggling. Or the time I passed on what appeared to be an amazing opportunity—to learn later that it had failed.
My gut, in essence, has built my career and my life. Here are five reasons I also tell my patients to listen to their gut:
1. You'll get out of your head.
I learned early in my life that my head is a bit too busy: too much noise, chaos, random thoughts, a new idea every moment. My gut did a better job of listening to my heart and guiding and narrowing the 50 things my head wants to do.
We need that gut intuition, which has a better sense of right from wrong.
2. You'll tap into your core.
Your intuition is connected to your core, the essence of you. Intellectually, we may want to be warriors or commanders, but the gut will recognize first that you are more of a peacemaker. Trusting your gut is trusting the core of you, decisions made by an undefined energy that may know you better than your head.
3. You'll connect to the divine.
As I reflect on my life, I maintain that the connection to a power source, call it what you will, has saved my life and built my family and my career. The stronger this connection, the stronger this other brain—the gut brain—becomes.
I think at some level your gut intuition is simply the collective energy of a higher power, advising and directing at every moment.
4. You'll find answers.
I love telling the story of one of my favorite "aha" moments. On one of my trips to New York city, I had spent the prior days struggling over a particular issue, without resolution. I finally grudgingly put the issue aside to attend a Broadway show with my children. In the middle of The Lion King, my head turned off, my gut took over, and just as Nala was meeting Simba, my answer emerged!
5. You'll avoid the disasters.
Finally, listening to your gut can help you avoid disasters. Listen to your gut before you hire, marry, choose a career, or travel. Not choosing this gut intuition is where most of our failures lie.
Listen to your gut. Stop the noise and chatter of our restless minds, zero in on what your gut is saying, and follow that advice. I promise, every time you ignore your gut, there will be regret.