This is a question I often ask myself and, although I really think it depends on your personality, I'm of the opinion that the best way to make a decision is to take into consideration all possible perspectives (your own and others) - with your gut feeling being an additional (and important) point of view.
Having said that, whenever I'm stuck on a tough decision my train of thought usually goes something like this:
- Consider the issue from several perspectives for a long period of time.
- Get frustrated with how long it's taking me to make a decision and just go with my gut feeling anyway.
I don't know how many people go through this, but I find this happening to me quite a lot.
To answer your question more directly though, I think there are a few times when your gut instinct should be ignored completely:
When trusting your gut is a bad idea
When you are intoxicated.
Whether it's messaging an ex or jumping on a last-minute flight to Vegas with your life savings; snap decisions that are made under the influence of alcohol (or other mind-altering substances) tend to have unforeseen and unwanted repercussions.
When you're emotionally unstable.
Making a decision when you're angry or upset is also usually a bad idea. People often regret things they say and do in the "heat of the moment".
Sexually charged encounters
Speaking of "hot moments", being sexually attracted to someone can also be a cause for making rash decisions.
You don't want to end up in that situation where you meet a stunning stranger at the bar, throw caution to the wind and take them home - only to wake up the next morning with your cat missing and your box of Honey Nut Cheerios several grams lighter.
When going with your instinct is a good idea
Having read the above list, you might be scared off ever making a "gut decision" ever again. Personally, I think this can be just as dangerous.
In many cultures, people believe that our guts actually have a brain of their own (maybe this is where the idea of a gut instinct comes from?).
Concepts like chakras and other spiritual beliefs recognise that parts of the body, such as the stomach, hold power of reasoning.
I believe this might be linked to subconscious decisions that our bodies make all the time.
One example is when your body senses imminent danger - and causes "butterflies" or other strange feelings in your stomach.
This is a result of an evolutionary trait that many animals have, where they empty their bowels to make themselves lighter whilst running away from a predator or other danger.
Whilst this isn't an excuse to defecate in public, what it goes to show is that sometimes your body and subconscious will pick up on things faster than your conscious mind might.