Trust your gut

Yesterday’s post was an exercise in minimalist thinking to achieve maximum advantage.  Today’s post continues with that approach.  It’s time to go on your gut instincts!

Each day rests on a series of choices.  Do you make choices quickly, or are you more inclined to carefully weigh up the pros and cons of each situation?

If you prefer to rely on your gut instinct, your results are not only instant, but also likely to form a great conclusion, despite the relative lack of work.

It doesn’t sound fair to those who meticulously consider every move they make.  But there is truth in it.

My Unconscious Mind (by Sara Al-Mudhaf)

To trust your gut is a sign of confidence.  The further you go before making a decision or committing to your work, the more you are questioning your current beliefs, judgements, opinions, and research.

When I begin anything, I like to note down all my current thoughts and ideas that are rattling around.  Sometimes the ideas get written down as complete nonsense, but that nonsense is also often surrounded by details that I wouldn’t have considered if I’d not spent 10 minutes on a brain dump like this.

For one module, I was asked to write an essay on a pretty uninspiring topic.  But before I spent any time worrying about that, I spent a short time making notes on what might inspire me.

Among those instinctive thoughts was a barely related idea that stemmed from an entirely different course module.  I wouldn’t have even brought the two things together in ordinary terms.  But to see it written down within my brain dump, I found inspiration to start writing in a way that was sure to be both strong and unique.

When my finished essay was marked, it gained a First.  I maintain that this was entirely down to going on my gut instinct, just moments after having been given the assignment.

Here is why it’s so important to trust your gut instincts:

  1. It allows unconscious thoughts out.
  2. We all have these unconscious thoughts.  That’s why it’s crucial to listen to them.  As soon as we pay conscious consideration to what we think, it’s enough to send more curveball ideas and seemingly unrelated possibilities our of our head and into the dustbin.
  3. Opinions differ at the outset of a project, halfway through it and at the end too.  Each day is filled with new developments, so we’re easily swayed on most things, even if we don’t notice.  The only way to know where we stand from the outset is to let them out right away.
  4. There hasn’t been the time to question what’s going on, so we present ourselves with raw, unprocessed thoughts.  These can often produce the best starting points to spring from.
  5. Instinctive thoughts are emotive.  For many, this is seen as a negative force against good reason and judgement.  But evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss argues, “Emotions such as jealousy and anger, rather than reducing rationality, may embody inherited ancestral wisdom”.

After taking stock of instant reactions, it’s a lot easier to manage further research and output.  It makes no difference, even if you end up backing away from all your instinctive proposals.

When has your gut reaction worked for you?


  1. Hi Sara, it’s great to hear from you. I’d love to provide you with as full a response as possible…

    I remember searching in Flickr for ‘unconscious’ (under Creative Commons license) and finding your artwork that way. I saw your piece and considered time ticking away. I also imagined my experiences as disjointed, yet at the same time often working at a flow. That flow runs at varying speeds (I saw pounding rain, yet imagined a fish swimming slowly). A line cuts through the fish, yet it provides a ground in which the figure can run. This all played heavily on my mind.

    I love contradictions and your work seemed to explore them. That, in itself, is a winning quality for me.

    In terms of the unconscious, or gut instincts, they can allow amazing results even though we haven’t questioned what we’re doing yet.

    Beauty, quality and care can stem from relative obscurity, as well as careful consideration. I feel that both angles are important. I found your artwork here summed this up brilliantly. I don’t know how you considered the piece after you finished working on it, but I’d be interested to know how you felt about it personally.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you Martin.

    I was in a blackout condition when I started working on this piece. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse in front of me were translating the state of my mind and emotions at the moment. I woke up right after I finished the piece.

    The piece is about watching myself from three different perspectives, the fish, the person running under the rain, and the one standing in the clock.

    I prefer not to write the story so everyone can create the story based on the background, knowledge, and experience. The visual vocabulary below will help viewers in translating and reading the artwork.

    Fish. Seabed. Depth. Wealth. Water. Cloud. Heavy. Slow. Full. Rich. High. Sky. Light. Fast. Rain. Ground. Reality. Difficulties. Run. Determination. Predictions. Near future. Wall. Stairs. Pathway. Ongoing. Non-stop. Sun. Shadow. Clock. History. Present. Future. Count. Mark. Plan. Management. Still. Stand. Center. Continuous. Speed. Circle. Pointer. Relationships. Social life. Entertainment. Work…

    I’ll leave the rest for you guys to figure out.

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