Check out our new FREE Grit and Grace series!

From mothers advocating for their children to ACT test-takers working hard to take their best tests, we repeat an emphatic, “Trust your gut.”

We’re referring to that moment when, without thinking, reasoning, or rationalizing, you defer to how you “feel.” That primal feeling at your core. There’s that word again – feeling. What we call upon in these instances is real, powerful, and raw and, rather than truly in your gut, lives in the limbic system.

A limbic system is a group of brain structures that work together, responsible for regulating your emotions, especially primal survival instincts. You’ve heard of “fight or flight?” The limbic system is responsible for helping your body decide what to do in extreme situations. Interestingly enough, while the limbic system responds to and regulates emotion, it does not help with processing language.

So the phrase trust your gut really does mean “access your core feelings” about the issue at hand: what would you do without thinking? And for mothers, this can be a “what do you know to be true” moment when trying to decide what is best for your child.

How does it work? You’ve stored up the memories and emotions and thoughts over time, and you’re sifting through the information, trying to make the best decision. You’ve reasoned and rationalized, and what’s left to do? Trust your gut.

Paying attention to the feelings that your limbic system is navigating can be a crucial filter for whether you’re internally aligned with your values and actions – you know when something doesn’t feel right?

We can say this to our kids with confidence – trust your gut and get out of there if it doesn’t feel right.

Why is this tricky sometimes? Because the limbic system doesn’t process language, we may not be able to describe what causes us to make a “gut decision.” Still, we can be sure that it is based on conscious and unconscious feelings over time and the sense of trust that we feel in a situation. So don’t discount that core emotion just because you might not have the words to describe it.

“I just have this feeling” — can be a powerful decision-making phrase.

Need a place to get started? Download our Wheel of Life tool and complete it together. The 30 minutes you spend will change your lives. After you do the activity, please comment on your experience!

Visit our Parent Resources page for more helpful insights. 

Cara Thorpe
Founder & Visionary
Yellow Parachute Learning Partners