Our Gut Instincts

When we are in pain, whether it’s physical or emotional, we often engage in behaviors to comfort ourselves. Some of these behaviors are not as healthy as others and include over eating, using drugs or alcohol, sleeping too much or too little, over working, isolating ourselves, and many others.

When something really bad happens in our lives, we sometimes say we feel like we have been punched in the gut.  This metaphor may turn out to be more than a metaphor as we learn more about the ENS (Enteric Nervous System), a system of about 100 million neurons that are embedded in the lining of the gastrointestinal system.

Some researchers are calling the ENS our second brain.  Think of all those phrases we use like “a gut feeling”, “what does your gut say?” and “it took guts to do that.”

Then we’re in pain, the ENS may send messages to our brain telling us to do something to reduce the pain.  Listening to our gut is good for us.  It tells us to take care of ourselves. 

When we have been gut punched by life, we need to be gentle with ourselves.  Talk to our friends and other people we trust. Let them know we’re in pain.  We need to understand that we may not be functioning at our usual level and be ok we that.

Action Item

When I am in pain, I will listen to my gut and take action.  I will treat myself with respect.  Instead of over eating or over drinking or over working, I will give myself permission to be human and let others support me.


About almondhead

I am a mental health counselor in private practice. One of the focuses of my practice is helping people with fear, anxiety and their ugly stepsister, depression. I became a counselor after a long career in the technology world, so naturally, I think of the brain as an engineering problem. It can help to understand something about how the brain works. I decided to start this blog as a way to help other people learn about fear, anxiety and relationship. (All our problems are really about relationships.) You can also find me at: www.virtuallyfearless.com www.PsychologyToday.com www.theravive.com http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/
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