Listen to Your Gut

You have a brain in your gut!

Q: Why was the skeleton too afraid to cross the road?
A: Because it didn’t have the guts.


Everyone I’ve ever met has experienced moments when they’ve lacked courage. I’ve experienced it, and it’s likely you have too. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been in a situation where we fail to make the gutsy move. Maybe we didn’t speak up and share our creative idea, or we stepped back from taking a stand. Maybe we didn’t have that difficult conversation. Or we stutter-stepped instead of moving toward what we want to do, have, or be.

Michael D. Gershon, M.D., says that a gutsy move (taking meaningful action) is a function of our “second brain” (a.k.a. the Enteric Brain) Check out his book The Second Brain on Amazon here.

In the book, mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains To Do Cool Stuff (find on here), Marvin Oka and Grant Soosalu declare that the prime function of this Enteric or second brain is courage.

As it turns out, they might be on to something. With the help of tools such as Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT), FMRI brain scanners, and electron microscopes, research reveals:

“You have a complex and intelligent brain in your gut that contains over 500 million neurons and has the equivalent size and complexity of something like a cat’s brain.” 

Could it be that the lion or tiger or panther we equate as a symbol of courage has the same amount of neurons in its brain as we do in our Enteric system?

Oka and Soosalu would tell you this is not just a coincidence.

I suggest that maybe it is time to put more credence into your own “gut sense” of things.

To be specific, start to notice how listening to your gut is like listening to an intelligent brain—one that has a primal connection to your courage center, to your identity, to your motivations and your deep sense of self-preservation.

And just in case you want to test out what your gut has to say about everything you’ve just read, follow this quick exercise:

Step One—Sit down in a comfortable position.

Step Two—Close your eyes.

Step Three—Breath in and out with equal counts for both the inhale and the exhale. Do this for two minutes.

Step Four—Begin to connect with the value or those elements in this article that seemed important to you.

Step Five—With your mind’s eye, create a movie or literally see ways you might use this information in a beneficial manner.

Step Six—Ask yourself what you like about the aspirations your mind’s eye painted for you.

Step Seven—Ask yourself what your motivation is for taking such action. Ask yourself how this article connected to a deep part of your identity.

Step Eight—Review everything you’ve just told yourself and ask your head, heart and gut to make meaning of the experience you just took yourself through.

If your gut health is relatively good and your mental/emotional state relatively coherent, you probably garnished value from this exercise. And in so doing, my friend, you have just taken a step toward learning how to better listen to your gut.