Instincts vs Thoughts – Who Wins?

*a 4 min read*

The Hunch

The uncertainty of a given situation can leave us vulnerable and puzzled about what to do next. How we act or react to that situation may start a chain of events that can either help us, hinder us, or allow us to just get by. Think of a time where a carefully calculated plan propelled you to greater heights. Or a time, when you “wing it,” and go with your gut feeling, and something good ends up coming out of it (or you know, you just fail miserably).

But now shift your attention towards the times when thinking and careful planning gives you the desired outcome you wanted. You study hard for a test for 2 weeks and when the time comes to write it, you get that A+. You plan to gain 10 pounds and slowly you start seeing the results you want to see with your body (or not, for many of us).

But it begs the question; which one should we rely on more, our instincts or thoughts? Should we go with the flow or take some time to think about what we are trying to do? The debate sparks numerous questions/answers, but I have some insight to share that will allow us to make a conclusion. Let the battle begin.

I made this. Clearly, it took a while.

Challenger A – The Thought

A thought can come randomly or be produced by thinking over time. As the diagram illustrates beautifully above, it may turn into an idea and that idea can be put into action. We use our thoughts to dictate how we go about our everyday decisions. Many are natural, such as allowing us to think of what we want for breakfast or how we have to wake up extremely early for an 8:30 am lecture (dreaded this every Tuesday for 8 weeks).

Some thoughts are pressure- or risk-driven, such as deciding if you are going to go on that roller coaster you have feared since you were 9. Or you have a presentation to deliver and you overthink the points you have prepared, causing you to speak too fast and stumble over your words. It happens to the best of us. But the thoughts were processed in your mind after some sort of consideration, whether the time was short or large.

Thoughts allow us to feel, meditate, and reflect. The benefits of thinking are endless and as we grow as people, our thoughts grow just the same. Thoughts can hold you back or push you forward but are a necessary component to who we are. Your thoughts led you to read this article, did they not?

Challenger B – The Instinct

Instincts in humans is a result of a certain stimulus. That gut feeling you have after a certain situation? Instincts. Reacting to a situation almost immediately and naturally without really thinking? Instincts. It is a part of our natural makeup and honestly, I am thankful we have it. There have been countless times where a gut feeling I experienced has guided me to the right decision. Would you not say the same?

You may have heard the term “always go with your instincts“. Do not overthink things because you want to eliminate any unnecessary doubt. And trust me, I am not here to tell you any different. There is a considerable amount of truth to that statement. But there are levels to this. You wanting to avoid overthinking does not translate to “be reckless in everything you do.” There are instances when thinking outweighs instincts and vice versa. But there is no fun in that, so allow me to provide a scenario in which both instincts and thoughts are viable and we pick the rightful winner. Shall we?

The Scenario

The circumstance to focus on is a common occurrence that many of us have gone through. Interacting with a stranger. Yes, stranger danger is real, but this happens so often and usually mindlessly, so let us look at this slowly. When you first meet someone you already have a feeling about them naturally (instinctive), based on how they dress and physical features. Now, we move to the stranger speaking. You hear their tone, how they behave, if they use curse words, or belittle other people. The more the stranger speaks, the more (thoughts) that grow in your mind.

So the stranger seems friendly, but you know when you first meet someone and you can sense they are a little “off”? Sometimes you can not explain how you came to that conclusion. Or maybe it is clear as day. But regardless, this is your instincts taking over. Your body is telling you that this person might be different gravy from the one you are accustomed to. But you barely know anything about them. Do you let the instincts just take over your actions and trust it? Or do you allow your mind to process some more information and continue the conversation?

What Is The Answer?

No Albert… not right now…

Honestly, I know you already made your decision—be honest with me. But is it that easy to answer this question? Maybe you caught the stranger on an off day. You have no idea what they are going through with just one short conversation. We all have an off day occasionally so we cannot assume that others do not experience the same. But enough chit chat Michael… what is the answer?

To be honest, I do not know what to tell of all of you. We know the gut does not only store the annoying fat in our bodies, but it also sends us signals that we have to consider.

Sure, you can say “it’s just a stranger, why should I care?” but how many strangers have turned into your friends? When you first met them, they were “weirdos” and you wanted to avoid them but after spending more time and sharing experiences with them, they became part of your group of friends that you trust the most (facts). So the answer lies with how you want to really look at it. But… for the sake of winning this argument and the entire idea around my blog in the first place, the winner is thoughts by the slightest of margins (you saw it coming).

Wrap Up

What did you think of this head to head? The topic seemed like a fair chance for both sides to win so I decided to put something together. I hope you were able to see how these two words can be looked at side by side and how valuable they are to our everyday decisions. If you enjoyed this article, let me know and more will follow. Thanks for reading, share with a friend, and answer the question below!

Who is your winner between instinct vs thoughts?


Published by michaeloka

A writer that says it how I see it. Here to bring you a different perspective to something that may have crossed your mind. I also want to introduce you to ideas you may not be familiar with and how I feel about them. Here for a long time and a good time.

3 thoughts on “Instincts vs Thoughts – Who Wins?

  1. Very very interesting and honestly timely post!
    I’m not too sure what I allow to take over. I typically go with my instincts, I’m sure.

    Recently I had an encounter with a friend of my boyfriends who just wasn’t that warm to me. I’m usually praised on how welcoming I am and easy to talk to – but this significant person just does not open up to me.

    My instincts told me that we didn’t mix and the relationship that ‘could be’ just never will.. but my boyfriend says that I caught that person on an “off day” just like you said…

    In this situation – I am trusting my instincts and not willing to try again..

    Interesting to see how your mind words in certain ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Its even harder when its a friend of a significant other. Because the significant other knows them so well already, you want to base your opinions around theirs but sometimes you can just see it a little deeper and sense something else. I appreciate you sharing that experience!


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