Oprah.com features advice from NASW member

Feb 27, 2012

Karol Ward

A gut reaction can be one of the strongest intuitive signals a human being possesses, but it’s becoming harder to follow these reactions as our instinctive natures — originally programmed to protect us — have been confused in a busy digital age where danger can mean anything from stepping in front of a bus while chatting on a cell phone to emailing the wrong thing to the wrong person.

An article on Oprah.com, “When Your Gut Sends Mixed Signals,” brings to light the conflicting feelings that can occur when it’s hard to decipher whether a gut reaction is true intuition or a mix of false fear and anxiety. Psychotherapist and author Karol Ward says in the article that paying attention to the physical reactions that accompany “trying on” a decision can help in determining the right one to make.
Because intuitive premonitions are linked to nerves in the midsection, a lot of physical reactions to the decisions one has to make can be felt as butterflies, cold hollowness or even stomachaches. “Giddiness, fluttery little waves, like a bobbing ship, might be a good thing,” Ward said, adding that although decisions may have a bit of nervousness attached to them, it doesn’t mean the choice is a bad one.
But “stomach flipping, throat clenching, tension in the back of the neck or chest,” she said, “means that it might be the wrong choice to make.”
The article says the basic thing to look for is whether the decision causes an immediate reaction of “contractive anxiety” or “expansive nervousness.” In other words, does the choice have you feeling physically choked up, tense and dreading the outcome, or nervous but still excited at the possibilities?
If it’s the latter, the decision is probably a safe one to make, it says.