“Aren’t you nervous?”, I keep getting asked by well-wishers.
“Not really”, I answer, honestly yet perhaps quite surprisingly.
I’m waiting to go down for a surgical procedure which entails being under general anaesthetic and a short stay in hospital, but I’m quite relaxed about it all.
The way I see it is that I’m “in safe hands”. I know this instinctively. I’ve met the surgeons and they’ve explained everything, the anaesthetist, the pharmacist, the nurses and doctors – they’ve all made me feel very at ease.
There are situations which cause me greater anxiety than this, and they mostly boil down to a sense of not feeling safe, of not quite being able to trust.
It’s not my logical or critical mind that tells me it’s not safe, it’s my stomach. It turns out I’m not alone in this, and that our guts tell us more than we realise about whether we can trust the situation we are in or what we are being told at any given time.
Science is only just scratching the surface with regards to the connection between the gut and the brain, but what we do know is that this connection goes both ways.
It’s widely accepted that a troubled intestine can send certain signals to the brain, leading to anxiety, stress and depression. That’s why so many of us are turning to probiotics to maintain a healthy system.
What is also interesting is how sensitive our gastrointestinal tract is to emotions.
There’s also been some really interesting studies done on how we can spot lies or danger based on the reactions from our bodies.
We’ve all heard about “gut instinct”, we ask “what is your gut feeling on this?”, and it turns out that we should trust this instinct, as it’s more reliable that our conscious, thinking mind.
I consider how my belly always knows when something’s “off”. Whether it’s what someone is telling me, or a general atmosphere when you walk into a place, I get this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, which I can’t explain logically, but that is there nonetheless.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you’ll know just how annoying it is when you know someone is lying to you, but they are very convincing in their way of presenting information to make it appear true. There’s a disconnect between your brain and your gut, and it leads to confusion, self-doubt, feeling ill even.
Science tells us that we should trust this “gut feeling”. It’s more accurate than rational explanations, or critical thinking, especially when it comes to “lie-detecting”.
Our bodies know the score and we should listen to them. Even if we don’t know exactly what is “off”, just knowing that’s it’s “off” is enough. We don’t need to explain ourselves, but we can take heed of these “red flags”, and proceed with caution, or even step away from a situation altogether.
For me this morning, my stomach is fine. Everything these amazing medical professionals have said to me, I have instinctively trusted. My gut feeling is good – no lies, no sugar-coating, no keeping of secrets, or saying what they think I want to hear.
Just genuine, open and honest communication coming from a place of care and integrity.
My gut instinct is that I can relax and get on with some work, as there is nothing to worry about.
Until the food arrives that is…!