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A gut feeling would be an intuition, a gut reaction would be an instinct
– BenCole 2012

When we see a television program about animals of prey in the wild fleeing from fear of a predator, that is a perfect depiction of an instinctual response. It is the gut reaction. All living creatures have instinct for protection in response to fear.

Human beings are equipped with instinct but also have the benefit of intuition as well. Different than animals, we can rationalize or make sense, if you will, of a fear inducing situation, then respond if needed to protect ourselves. This is our intuition. Animals just respond to fear without the rationalizing component.

In our self defense and personal safety classes, we speak about intuition – what it is and how to use it more effectively to help us stay safe.

Very simply, we already ‘know’ about intuition. It has always been part of our human interactions and our bodily response. We enter a room or come upon a situation, and we ‘know’ immediately if it feels good or if it feels bad. If it feels good, our body is telling us we are safe, if it feels bad, our body is telling us we are at risk. 

Participants in our courses often report feeling uncomfortable about a situation but have dismissed the warning signs. And just as often, they indicate that dismissing the warning has led to some kind of risky, or dangerous experience. 

The disconnect happens when we feel the risk then rationalize or dismiss those important feelings or warning signs. Our instinct is clearly sending our body a safety message. Then our intuition chimes in, and we as humans, try to make sense out of the fear we have just felt. Its in that making sense of it, that we may put ourselves at risk. 

Sometimes we stay in a situation too long, we try convincing ourselves that we are just being silly, or that what is happening is no big deal, or that we can handle this. Or we don’t want to appear rude or to offend someone. Here is the irony of that – why might we be afraid of offending someone that is very likely preparing to offend us? 

We are the only ones who can protect ourselves – no one else will do it for us. And trusting our instinct and intuition is our first line of defense. The second line of defense is to remove ourselves from the situation. Perhaps it’s a step back, closer toward an exit, perhaps moving toward a group of people who feel safer, perhaps it means leaving the situation completely.  

We need to become better at trusting our intuition and then have the confidence to follow through with protecting ourselves. We must take charge of a risky situation by responding with our safety in mind.

Trusting in the wisdom of our intuition to advise and warn us in any situation is a powerful state. It works well with alertness and awareness to keep us out of harm’s way.

In our self defense classes, our message to participants is this: “One single take away from this course, if you forget everything else, it to pay attention to your intuition. If something feels wrong, that’s because it is. Trust those gut feelings and act upon them to remove yourself from harm” 

Always “err on the side of caution.” If you are uncertain about some discomfort, take the safer course and leave the area immediately. Don’t carry on with the present situation unchanged, and don’t worry about offending someone in your efforts to protect yourself.