I was going through some old papers in a stack of boxes in a warehouse, and found some school notes taken back in the 1960's in elementary school. The notes were very clear. The elementary school teacher was teaching the kids about animal instinct, but stated that humans had lost instinct long ago in ancient times.
I'm not sure we really know why birds fly south for the winter and how animals can tell when a tsunami is about to hit. But a lot of private investigators believe that following a gut-level instinct can inform and sharpen a search for the truth. In my experience, following a hunch - instinct - may or may not get you to the exact solution, but it's almost never a waste of time, because it sharpens your idea of what the story is going to turn out to be.
When should you learn to pay attention to your gut-level instincts?
1. In Cases of Your Safety or the Safety of Another.
Have you ever been walking down the street and felt a tingling feeling on your back? Sometimes your ears, nose, and eyes are experiencing impressions that you're not fully aware of consciously, because you're thinking about something else. But your body seems to know. You're not always right, and we need to use our heads too, but there have been many cases when a person felt they were being followed or watched, and they were right. There are also cases where a person felt concern for a child's safety and their feelings proved to be right.
2. Relationship Decisions.
New relationships are great, because both parties are excited and expect the very best. There's nothing better than riding the wave of that new relationship and enjoying wherever it takes you. But, at some point, if you get a funny feeling about your new partner, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it. For many couples, once the "honeymoon" is over, there are very subtle changes in the other spouse's personality. A few harsh words can easily be ignored, but when you really start to feel that something is wrong, do your best to honor your own gut-level instincts. It could be nothing, and maybe you'll resolve the problem over time. But if your instinct is right, it may go badly if you hesitate.
3. Weighing Up Alternatives.
When something's bothering you and a stack of alternative courses of action are piled up in your mind, sometimes it's hard to decide which action to choose. One thing I always do is imagine taking each of the alternative roads, and then noticing which alternative makes me feel a sense of calm or relief. When I find one that definitely makes me relax instead of panic, I know I'm on to something. More often than not, that sense of relief is an indicator of which is the best solution.
I don't know why it works, but I do know that it seems to work. Following my gut-level instincts has served me very well, and helps me stay on top of my game.