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  • Writer's pictureMarc D. Richter, LICSW, LADC

Intuition vs Gut there a difference?

Conversation with a client today allowed an opportunity for a discussion about gut feelings. We were examining the degree to which true gut feelings are really not so much simple guesses as much as educated ones. Some might use the word hunch to more accurately reflect this process. This conversation, like many I have with clients in which we talk about the three intelligences, the gut, the heart and the head led to some more exploration on the internet in an effort to further discover how others differentiate between a guess and a hunch and to what extent is there a difference between the educated gut and intuition.

I found some interesting stuff. I came upon one article titled "What's the difference between intuition and gut feelings?" This writer brings up some interesting points but I believe he/she leaves out the Heart Mind in her discussion of gut feelings verses intuition. In fact, by doing so, she seems to incorrectly refer to unresolved painful past experience, old prejudices and thoughts and feelings that emerge from there as being the voice of the gut when really this emotional voice more accurately comes from the heart mind. The writer without realizing it further implies that intuition is essentially what is left when one strips the overlapping distortions and distractions of the heart voice away from the gut feelings. This writer limits her scope of the gut as only being fear-based, "sensitive to insights that accurately reflect disharmony." This is too narrow a definition. I believe the gut makes use of courage as well as fear. I would additionally argue that intuition and the wisdom of the gut are one and the same; that the distortions this writer speaks of are really conversations that occur between the heart, head and gut voices. Still, I appreciate her description of intuition (gut feelings) as a sensory experience, "a state of inner knowing which often emerges out of the blue... an immediate appreciation by the mind without reasoning."

In comparing the words guess and hunch some blog contributors speak about guesses as being arbitrary and hunches as generally implying a particular belief, albeit one without obvious reasoning or logic or as being easily able to articulate. One writer pointed out that a hunch can precede a guess but not vice versa. Without getting stuck in the language though, I suggest that an educated guess is synonymous with a hunch or an educated gut feeling. Going further, I suggest that simple gut feelings be differentiated from educated gut feelings. When folks use the term simple gut feelings what they are incorrectly attributing as a thought coming from their gut is really coming from their head. They are typically making shallow guesses here and not listening for that deeper voice within that arises from the gut.

When a gut is underdeveloped its' voice is very quiet. If it has been silenced, ignored, disregarded or perhaps even bullied by the other two more dominantly used intelligences it may be hardly differentiated from the voice of the head. When in such a state, this relatively uneducated gut is not so much dumb or ignorant as much as low on confidence and unassertive. Its' quiet voice can sound like nothing more than a simple guess, a stab in the dark. While the gut is smart it can be full of unused potential if one does not learn to listen to it adequately. The more one learns to listen to, trust and have faith in the gut voice the more experience they can have in honing its sharpness and strength. I like to use the term, a honed gut. A honed gut is both educated and well used. A honed gut makes use of past experience without being overrun by emotion and remains curious and open to to the voice of what is "right" that arises from deep within. It also takes time to pause to allow the feelings within the gut to resonate and even "vibrate." The keener one's sensitivity to such vibration, the more successful one becomes in utilizing the wisdom of the gut mind.

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