Science Says Going With Your Gut Instinct Is a Real Thing
A link exists between gut feelings and the real you
Why did The Verve see life as a "bittersweet symphony?" The choice of adjective might be telling, tempering any straightforward sweetness with a dash of bitterness up front. These contradictory sensations can apply to our sense of taste just as well as they can to our sense of self. The song recognizes as much, at first believing so firmly in the sameness of the self as to warrant repetition of the same phrase three times -- "I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change" -- before calling back to it at the end of the verse: "I can’t change my mold, no, no, no." In between, though, the sweetness of a stable self is cut by the reality of lived life, embittered by behavior through which a single coherent self turns into a million different people from one day to the next.
Psychological research has started to unpack what The Verve understood 20 years earlier. People can, of course, act inconsistently, even over the course of vanishingly small windows of time. We drop a few dollars in the Salvation Army’s red kettle one holiday season but not the next; we recycle our morning coffee cup on Monday but trash it on Tuesday; we sneak in our 250 hourly steps before lunch but insist that we’re too busy for them later in the day.
Moreover, we forgive the versions of ourselves that refused to give, go green or get up as having fallen victim to the situation. In other words, we explain away these actions as having been taken by our actual self. The actual self navigates through the actual world, trying his or her best to do what we really should do but also taking into consideration the limitations imposed by not having enough money, enough willpower or enough time. None of this keeps us from holding in our heads an image of ourselves that doesn’t have to worry about considerations and limitations and shortcomings. If the actual self is the reason why we can seemingly morph into a million different people, then this restriction-free true self is the unchanging mold. The true self stays constant underneath and in spite of the bobbings and weavings of the actual self like a ship that resolutely charts a course forward through choppy waters.
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