Self

Never Ignore These 4 Gut Feelings — They Can Save You From Misery

Photo: Brooke Cagle | Unsplash, Lana Veter | Canva
third eye, instinct, awareness

Ever felt like you “just know” something but can’t articulate why? That’s your intuition. Many refer to their intuition as the “gut feeling.” It describes the innate ability to know something without consciously thinking about it.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine discovered that people who trusted their intuition were likelier to do the morally right thing in a given situation. While you may not be able to learn how to trust your intuition, you can strengthen it. This starts with becoming more self-aware. When you know more about yourself, you can better detect gut feelings clearly.

There are four universal gut feelings you should never ignore, regardless of what stage you’re at in your self-awareness journey.

RELATED: What It Really Means To Trust Your Intuition (And Why You Should Do It)

Here are 4 gut feelings one should never ignore:   

1. The feeling of danger

On the weekend, my car broke down, so I was moving around in taxis. I’d been out with friends and was traveling home late at night. One of the females we were with lived near me, so I told her to hop in my Bolt to ensure she got home safely. After we dropped her home, I planned to continue the journey back to my place. This is when things got weird.

The Bolt driver asked me to cancel the trip, which isn’t unusual — drivers do it regularly, so they don’t have to pay a commission to Bolt. After canceling the ride, the driver called his friend and started speaking Twi, a dialect from the Akan tribe of Ghana. He didn’t know I spoke the language too. I heard him distinctively sharing my destination and estimated arrival time with the friend on the phone.

Then he did something even weirder. When we reached the junction, he asked me, “Which way should I go?” Judging by the conversation he was having on the phone, he knew the fastest route back to my area, and the map was telling him where to go. I didn’t understand why he asked. This unsettled me, but I told him to “go right.”

As we drove down the path, he started sharing a story of his friend who was robbed by armed robbers in the same location at the same time of day on the same day of the week but two weeks prior. All the while, his friend was still on the phone. I immediately texted the girl I’d just dropped off to let her know the driver was acting funny. She called me and pretended to act like I’d forgotten something at her place, so I told the driver to spin the car. When we returned, I told her the story and asked her permission to wait at hers for another cab, and she agreed.

I paid the driver, and he left. Now look: It’s quite possible I may have been overreacting. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. When you sense danger is looming, never ignore the feeling — even if it’s seemingly minimal. If your gut tells you to take a different route home, put your phone away, stop somewhere, or leave an event, listen to it. It may be protecting you from danger.

RELATED: 5 Natural Instincts You Should Never Ignore, No Matter What

2. Excitement about an opportunity

   

   

Excitement is your intuition's way of informing you an opportunity resonates with your soul. Many people miss these opportunities because they allow their logical minds to talk them out of it.

For example, in 2016, I was given the opportunity to leave London and play for a professional football club in Nottingham. This would’ve been my first time leaving London for football and my first time back in professional football after walking away from a contract a year and a half prior. But there’s a catch: I had recently gotten extremely serious about my relationship with God and had joined a church where I got baptized.

I then moved on to another church that seemed promising and more aligned with my values, such as offering more opportunities to kids from economically deprived areas so they didn’t have to get involved with the streets. It was during my time at this church that I became convinced I wasn’t rooted in my faith enough to leave London. My rationale was, “If I leave, I’ll backslide.” This was enough to convince me to stay. I didn’t go to Nottingham. A few months later, I quit football completely.

Fast forward a few years, I was on TV talking about my experience and exposing the cult I realized I was a part of for the past four years. TLDR: The church I joined was a religious cult with a leader who was determined to fill his pockets at the expense of his members.

I got completely sucked in because I ignored my intuition. From the one training session I had with the first team at Nottingham, I knew I had what it takes to go there and make a name for myself, but I allowed my insecurities to overcome me.

It’s extremely simple to feel insecure when confronted with an opportunity that will require you to leave your comfort zone. This insecurity leads to fear, which we have become masters of rationalizing… If you’ve clearly got the necessary skills in a certain area, don’t ignore your excitement about an opportunity that arises in that domain. Accept you’re leaving your comfort zone and grab the opportunity with two hands.  If it works out, cool; if it doesn’t, cool — at least you can say you tried.

3. Feeling a connection to someone

I started taking football seriously around age 14. This was quite late compared to most people in the industry. Before then, I played for a few local clubs to keep myself fit, but I never thought much of making it big. At the first club I played for, Melwood, I met a guy we’ll call Mike.

Mike was the subordinate coach of the age group 2 years above me — I was highly rated by many of the coaches, so they pushed me to play with the year group above mine. Because of this, I’d regularly see Mike at my games, watching by himself. After it was done, he’d come over and congratulate me, then give me tips for things I should try in the next game before heading to his team for the late kickoff. When I left Melwood, I never heard from Mike again.

Around this time, I made friends with more people playing in academy teams. One of my good friends had a trial at Fulham FC, so I went down with him to support him and take notes from the other kids who played in my position. Guess who greeted my friend and I at the gate of the training ground? Mike. He was now working as a scout for Fulham FC. At first, I didn’t recognize him … He’d grown out a full beard and matured in the face.

As I was watching training, he came over and stood next to me. I could feel him staring at me from the corner of my eye, so I turned my head. With a big smile on his face, he said, “Is that Kurtis?” I was so baffled — “Yeah, how do you know?”

“It’s me, Mike, from Melwood,” he replied. My jaw dropped as we embraced. “Man, how long has it been,” I said.

We exchanged numbers on that day. From then on, every achievement I received in football can be credited to him. He took me everywhere to increase my exposure in the industry. He put me around some of the best professional footballers in my age group to help me develop my game. When I told him I was hanging up my boots, his disappointment broke my heart. He didn’t make it obvious he was upset, but I knew. Mike had extremely high hopes for me.

The main point of this story is to tell you to never ignore a connection you feel with someone.  We’re drawn to people for a reason — their presence serves a divine purpose. Of all the boys he watched come and go at Melwood, only two of us reaped the benefits of knowing Mike.

I saw him as a mentor, and he admired that I always implemented his advice… Years later, this relationship opened many doors for me in my football career — we’re still in contact now. Even if it’s only for a brief encounter, heed the feeling of connection to others. It’s a sign from the universe you and that person are supposed to collide.

RELATED: How The Deepest, Most Insightful People Find Their Wisdom — That You Can Learn, Too

4. When you feel something is off

   

   

Your intuition is smarter than you can ever imagine — it knows when something isn’t quite right. For example, I’ve recently become a big fan of a YouTube channel called UDY. It’s run by a guy called Sergio, who helps people discover whether their partners are cheating.

The most interesting revelation I had about these videos is that the people who reach out hardly ever have evidence their partner is cheating when they initially come on the show. It’s always a “feeling” that something is off — and more often than not, the feeling is usually confirmed when their partner is unknowingly put to the test. Never ignore your instincts when you feel like something is off.

I wish I took my own advice in 2019. There was a female I’d been speaking with for 6 months. At first, I was captivated by her beauty, but after getting to know her better, I knew we weren’t compatible. We had been drawn together by our grueling experiences in the cult we were in, but when I left, that bond had gone. That’s when my Superman complex kicked in. I felt like she only left the church because I did, and it was my responsibility to ensure her life didn’t go astray.

Though we never made things official, we were exclusive in every right. The only problem was I never liked her in that way, and we weren’t each other's type. This entanglement was doomed before it started, but we ran with it for a few months. It never sat right for me the whole time. My disinterest in her was further enhanced when she started going on jail visits to see my friends. I knew something was off the whole time, but I ignored my instincts. We ended up parting ways, but even that situation was messy.

If you feel off about something, listen to your body, regardless of whether it’s an illness, injury, or unease about a partner. Investigate your feelings and take necessary action once you’ve understood them.

Your intuition is a sense designed to protect you from harm. While you can’t learn how to trust it, you can strengthen your connection with it by becoming more self-aware. In almost 30 years of life, I’ve learned of 4 gut feelings that you should never ignore. Those gut feelings are:

  1. The feeling of danger
  2. Excitement about an opportunity
  3. Feeling a connection to someone
  4. When you feel something is off

You may not understand why you’re getting those feelings, but your intuition is much smarter than you can ever imagine. Listen to it.

RELATED: Why You Should Never Underestimate Your Gut Feelings

Kurtis Pykes is a professional writer and author of the free e-book Don’t Just Set Goals, Build Systems. He's had articles featured on Medium, Nvidia blog, DataCamp, and neptune.ai, among many others.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.