We’ve lost touch with our instincts—and that’s very much a problem.
My past few posts haven’t been about very simple things. As I said, maintaining health is simple, should be simple, can be simple – but alas, in our complex industrial world, with toxic chemicals in our food and corporate interests influencing our science, keeping it simple is not always so simple. However, I think there is a lot we can do just by changing our thinking.
As I mentioned in my post about evidence-based medicine, at one time doctors often used their instincts when they made clinical decisions; Now, they tend to rely on data. I am not suggesting we throw out the baby with the bathwater—I am all for science (when it is done right and presented honestly), but there is a place for instinct in health care. And that place may be more with the patient than with the doctor.
Our reliance on science—a study of this and a trial of that—has lead us to doubt our instincts unless we can support them with data from a leading medical journal. I am a big believer in looking at the evidence all around you, making a hypothesis, testing it, testing it again and using hard-edged logic to interpret the results of those tests. I am also a big believer in listening to your body, and your unconscious. Those gut feelings are often not so off-the-wall as they seem.
Just like a team of crack researchers at the Mayo clinic, your unconscious notices things, collects and analyzes data—in fact, it’s doing it all the time. When you just know something and can’t say why, it is often a result of this process. The trick is to learn when to trust this sense and when to know you are fooling yourself (I need to eat this entire bag of potato chips. My body needs the potassium—I can just tell!). That takes practice. It also takes trust. If we can’t trust the studies, maybe we can learn to trust our own instincts.