June 19, 2019

Head or Heart: Are we following the right Instinct?

Years ago, I bought a piece of jewelry.

It was a rose gold kneeling charm figure. It had a heart for a head and a smiling face on the left side of its chest where the heart normally would be. It intrigued me.

We hear all of the time about the heart and the head.

“Follow your heart.”

“Don’t follow your heart.”

“Keep your head on straight.”

“Use your head.”

You get the idea.

However, the heart and the head can often get us into trouble.

Why is that?

Too much blood flow to those parts? Not enough blood flow? Are the body parts too large? Are they too heavy for us to execute good judgment? Or, are they not large enough, like some tiny bird brain that can only think as far as the next feeding opportunity?

In recent years, the explanation has been that both the head and the heart are problematic because they tell stories. They talk us out of our better judgment because fiction sounds so much better, much more comforting than logic, safety, and well-being. You know, those things are a drag compared to the bright, shiny objects of stories—magical thinking, excuses, lies, and fairy-tales. We are Magpies who just cannot help ourselves. We are drawn to the shiny. And we, therefore, set ourselves up for hurt, pain, and destruction.

We often mix up the head and the heart. We think when we should feel, and we feel when we should think. It can drive us insane.

So, in some vain effort to manage this, we smile. We insist that “everything’s fine,” but our “tell” gives us away. You know. That rage explosion that happens out of nowhere?

Yeah, that thing.

All because we tried to apply the smile Band-Aid that did not heal any boo-boo whatsoever. It could not fix what dealing with our issues honestly, with pain, work, and grit would have. We have to do the work. And both the heart and the head can sometimes impede that work.

The heart tells stories; the head tells stories. The gut however is different. That’s the area of ourselves we don’t spend much time and thought on. Intuition. An inner knowing. Instinct.

But there’s no gut jewelry charm out there of a gut. At least, I haven’t seen it. A stomach? Maybe some intestines on a brooch or a necklace? Nope, haven’t seen it.

Still, we need to look at the gut and pay attention to its offerings. If the heart and the head tell stories and get us into trouble, then the gut warns distinctly, giving us a one or two-word answer like…




“Get away!”


It has no flowery language, no romantic story attached to it. It’s stark. Blunt. Maybe, sometimes, rude. But it’s on the money.

And we know it; we’ve experienced it. But we have often been trained in our lives to override it with a story, lie, fantasy, or excuse. We follow those instead of instinct. And wham-o! We find ourselves in a predicament.

If we can practice quieting ourselves to ask a yes or no question, awaiting a response from our gut, we can get our answer…without the rambling story.

“What do I want?” The gut helps us to get closer to that.

If my “heart-head” calls the shots, it could tip me over. Ka-thunk.

And, if I insist on showing only a smile as protective battle armor, convincing myself that I don’t need to deal with any other issue because a happy facial expression makes up for it, ka-thunk, right on my face.

But, if I ask the yes or no question to my gut, what can happen?




I still have the charm. It’s a pretty piece of jewelry. But where it once represented being heart-centered, putting on a happy face, it now represents how doing just that can often put me out of balance.

The gut helps me balance. When feeling and thinking become counterproductive, the gut is there to bypass my stories and tell me the truth.

And that’s what I need. That’s what we all need.



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