My Gut Saved My Life.

“Intuition is always right in at least two important ways;
It is always in response to something.
it always has your best interest at heart”
Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Gavin de Becker wrote an incredible book, “The Gift of Fear.” In the book,  he highlights the warning signs that often precede a violent crime. In his research he emphasizes that our intuition (gut) will let you know if a person is safe or not. It is in those initial moments of interaction that we can sense whether someone is safe or not.

The problem is, women are socialized to be nice over being safe (and trusting their gut). This is why Ted Bundy used a broken arm to lure women to their death. He knew his weakness would lower women’s ability to say no, even though I am certain they could sense something about him was not right.

Intuition is not always a scary thing.

A few years ago, I was attending a professional conference in Austin, Texas. As professional conferences tend to become late night parties, I did not end up back at my hotel until really late one night. The taxi dropped me off at what looked like my hotel and when I walked in, I realized that I was at the wrong Hampton Inn. Apparently, there are several Hampton Inns in Austin.

This situation was particularly frustrating because I was a broke college student. I was barely able to afford the conference let alone all the additional cost of another cab ride. In the midst of sharing my stress with the desk clerk, two middle-aged men offered to take me to my hotel at no cost. I sized them up and decided that this was a fine idea.

Mind you, it was now around 1am and I was getting into a strange car, with two men I did not know, in a state far from home. Not one person knew where I was or where I was going. My cell phone died hours before. This easily could have ended in a Dateline Murder Mystery. Thankfully, it did not. I arrived safely at my hotel and crashed out.

Why is that story important to me? I trusted my gut. I try my best to make this a hard and fast life rule. My gut tells me what to do and what not to do. When I sized these men up, I paused to consider how I felt about them. There were no red flags (other than they were men and I was a young vulnerable woman). The hairs on the back of my head did not stand up. I did not get a stomachache. I did not feel like running towards the door. My face did not get red. I was not suspicious. These men did not pressure me to get in the car. They did not make me feel guilty. I was not afraid of them or intimidated by them. I rode with them more out of convenience then desperation.

It turned out fine and I saved money. I am grateful that these kind men were able to help me out of a bind. In retrospect, it was not an ideal situation but we are sometimes put in less than ideal situations and forced to make a decision. Unfortunately, cabs and ubers are not always safe either.

“Only human beings can look directly at something, have all the information they need to make an accurate prediction, perhaps even momentarily make the accurate prediction, and then say that it isn’t so.”
Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

In my late teens and early twenties, I did not listen to my gut and this resulted in dangerous situations with unsafe people. Thankfully, I was not seriously hurt but I was definitely in situations where that could have happened. Frankly, I’m too embarrassed to go into detail but if we were friends when I was an undergrad, I’m sure you can identify a few of the aforementioned incidents.

If you are one of my best friends you are familiar with the phone call: My gut says something is off or my gut says I need to do this. And even though I’m calling for support, I know what I need to do. When you follow your gut you may have to do things that might make you feel guilty or bad but when I consider my options: I would rather be safe than sorry.

How do you trust your gut?

Pay attention to to your body! Your body is highly invested in survival. If your stomach starts to turn, your hairs stand up on your neck, you think “they’re lying,” you feel like something is not right, and/or you “just know”that you shouldn’t: DON’T DO IT! Your gut is a primal tool set to survival mode. Use it.

Also, I believe that your gut has the ability to encourage you to go for something if “it’s right.” So, believe your gut if it says: “Hey, that person is cute” or “You could totally do that job” or “You should ask for that raise.”

Your gut has your best interest in mind. Give it some love.


“The subjects did not always follow through with what their slightly sweaty palms were telling them to do, but the slightly sweaty palms were almost always right – in fact, they even had the ability to predict the future (by about 2-3 seconds).” – The Science Behind Intuition



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