Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Decisions--follow your gut feeling

The other day the newspaper had an article about a new study that was done about how people make decisions. (I couldn't find it online though). For less complex decisions, people in the study made better decisions when they analyzed the decision as they made it. But for larger, complex decisions, the study found that people made better decisions if, after looking at all the factors, they went away from it and after a lapse of time followed their gut feelings.

The study authors said that because complex decisions involve so many factors, the conscious mind can't consider them all at once. So people tend to focus on one or two things that appeal to them more and ignore everything else if they try to make a complex decision solely on the basis of logical analysis. But the subconscious mind can sort through all the factors while we're doing other things. That's why the lapse of time after looking at everything helped people make better decisions.

When I think about my own life, I realize that my most important decisions were made by following my gut feelings. The biggest decision was when I decided to enter the convent. I didn't sit down and logically analyze all the pros and cons, but I felt in my heart that God was calling me and I wanted to respond. I imagine it's the same when people get married.

How does this study compare with your own experience?


Bryan said...

Hi Sr. Marianne, I love your blog..I was a police officer for many years and I can't tell you how many times I followed my "gut" and it actually saved my bacon. I think God has a lot to do with those gut feelings. Faith!!
God Bless

jenny said...

I figure that feeling's not coming from the gut, but from the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it definately makes sence to me. Entering the convent for me was also a gut instinct. I also had a gut instinct I should leave for a *long* time (pretty much soon after I entered) but I kept telling myself it was a temptation and I was going to stick it out . It turns out I should have followed my gut. As for marrying my husband when he proposed there was no doubt in my mind. I knew it was what God wanted. I haven't had a doubt since, we are so very happily married I can't immagine it getting better. I know now I should listen more to myself. I knew the convent wasn't for me, but I was determined to make it work. As for marriage, honestly it is so happy and harmonious we don't put in much effort (after 5+ years). Maybe that will change but so far I am more than blessed. God definately knew what was best for me.

AveMaria1 said...

Hmnn..for me it was the opposite. I was engaged for almost 2 years (dated him forever). I loved the idea of having a nice Catholic family and really did love my fiance (I desired community in married life). However, I realized that I was still thinking about religious life (still desiring community).

Back in high school I discerned the possibility of religious life, but my parents divorced and I was too consumed in that (as well as not mature enough) to follow through. I eventually became engaged (rewinding here).

Anyway, in my gut I just felt like marrying him wasn't an option, it may have been impulsive on my part. I knew it from the get go, but was happy with the idea, happy with him as my friend...but something was STILL missing.

At this point in my life, I am discerning religious life again and am willing to give GOD my all and stay firmly rooted in Him.

As I have been discerning, the "missing piece", I am finding, is God. Not that I didn't have God before, but living as a married person would not be the right vocation for me because I have a strong desire to bring Him forth to others. This desire stems from my love of the Eucharist. My "gut feeling" about feeling this way, is nothing buy joyous and peaceful.

My gut tells me, go for it!

On a more general note, I see that my "gut feelings" have always been on the right track. Even most recently... and I think it has something to do with the Holy Spirit within every one of us....
God is so good!

Richard said...

For big - life-altering - decisions, I definitely subscribe to the analyze then follow your "gut feelings" process. I refer to it as waiting for my epiphany...works every time. I too found myself entering the Society of Jesus after a long period of discernment by following my heart/gut. So far, it's the best life-decision that I've made. Perhaps the Holy Spirit moves us through our hearts/guts whereas the evil spirit uses our base egos and selfish gotta-have-it desires that I find come out in pro & con lists. Following my heart usually leads to peace and, ultimately, closer relationship with God.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks to everyone who brought out the point of the Holy Spirit acting through our feelings.
St. Ignatius, who is surely the patron saint of discernment, emphasized how important it is to see what God is telling us through our feelings. The evil spirit can work through them too, so they need discernment.