Gut-feeling is the most widely recognised form of intuition. We use gut-feeling to make important decisions and judgements about people and events, to govern our responses and to adjust our behaviour. Most of our decisions in life are taken when we don’t have enough information to make an informed judgement. This is when we use gut-feeling.

Gut-feeling is regarded as vague and instinctive. A gut-feeling response is not something we arrive at rationally, but is instant, whole and complete. Because gut-feeling operates outside our direct and conscious control, it is associated with the unconscious, and yet it is more than this; it speaks to us directly, and we trust our gut-feeling more than any rational judgement we might make about people, events or actions.

The view that gut-feeling is vague and ill-defined comes in part from its nature, and in part from our understanding of how it works. Our decisions and judgements in life are made within a particular context, and contexts are not always clear and defined. A context is like the climate we live in or the mood in a room; we are inside it and we do not have the distance to see it clearly. Gut-feeling picks up on the context.

We can be more or less aware of gut-feeling. If we are more aware of it, we will be able to recognise it when it speaks. If we are less aware of it, it will still influence our decisions, but in an unconscious way. Balanced judgement comes from both intuition and logic. We can restore that balance by understanding gut-feeling and attending to it.