Gut instinct comes from your second brain
So, this is weird. And also totally awesome. Apparently, our guts are complex enough to make up a “second brain,” that has about two thirds as many neurons as a cat. That’s right, we have a cat in our intestines, and this is where your gut instinct comes from. I have a Fez in my belly.
Wait what the heck?
I know! Isn’t that fargin cool!? So a cat has about 160 million neurons in their brains. Ours have about 100 billion, which may be why cats find it no big deal to watch you while you poo, even though we think it’s just a bit uncomfortable.
Our guts have about 100 million, putting them close to as “intelligent,” as a cat. Doctor Michael Gershon suggests that this extra boost of decision making cells is primarily to control digestion etc. This is so that we don’t need to consciously think about forcing that hamburger through our small intenstines.
Interestingly though, our guts also apparently have a lot to do with our mood. I am sure you have experienced pangs of anxiety and other feels coming straight from your gut. The reason that this is happening is because neurotransmitters are literally firing down there. Your inner cat gut is intimidated by how pretty that lady you’re talking to is!
So what does this mean?
You can pretty much take this information however you’d like. However, I’ve actually found this to be really helpful in forming how I think about gut instinct, and the emotions that come along with it. That pang of anxiety I get when I have to make a call I’m dreading is no longer a blocker or some reason for me to be worried. It’s simply a realistic, animalistic fear of an unknown. But the higher part of my brain function, the one coming from my head, knows it’s irrational, and that a telephone call is just a telephone call.
The important thing here is to basically treat your gut instinct like a separate entity, and to know its strengths and weaknesses. Sure, it probably knows best that you shouldn’t jump off this bridge into a shallow, murky river just for funzies. Maybe listen to it in that moment. But when the gut instinct gets in the way of the things you want to be doing, the things you have consciously decided you want in your life, that’s when it’s time to remember that this part of you is roughly ten times less complex than your actual brain, and so it’s bound to get some things wrong, or over-inflate how dangerous or scary they actually are. Go ahead. Talk to that cutie.
… Should I name my gut cat?
Yes. Mine is named Alfred.