Use Your Brains – Head, Heart and Gut Connection




By Alyson Gainsford

You may have heard the sayings ‘use your head’, ‘follow your heart’ or ‘trust your gut’. When it comes to making decisions and taking action in your life, career, business, relationships, finance, health, which one do you pay attention to, when and why?

Interestingly researchers have discovered we have three brains, each with an intellect of its own, connected to the other and more commonly referred to as the head, heart and gut connection.

Each of these brains has a different form of intelligence and role to play in our decision making. Our head is responsible for our logic and reasoning; perception, analysis and the way we make meaning of the world as we see it and how we language it. Our head is also creative, our ability to ‘think outside the box’; generate new ideas, thinking and new perspective. Our heart processes our emotions, what we feel (anger, grief, joy, happiness) and the connections we have with others; love, hate, compassion, like and dislike for example. Our heart processes what’s important to us; our values, our dreams, desires and aspirations.  Our gut is where our intuition lives. It’s responsible for our core identity and sense of self; who we are and aren’t. Fear and our ‘fight-flight response’ is processed through our gut and is responsible for our boundaries, protection and safety. It’s best known for our impulse action, courage and will to act.

The decisions we make and the actions we take; how we lead, communicate and build relationships and the results we achieve in life is determined primarily by how well-aligned our three brains are. It has a profound influence on our level of happiness, wellness and fulfillment. When our head, heart or gut-intelligence is not communicating or is in conflict with each other, we experience imbalance with ourselves, others and our environment.

Have you ever had a soul zapping job? Your heart is not into it, you wake up each morning feeling sick in the stomach, unable to get out of bed but your head tells you that you have no choice, you have a family to support, and a mortgage to pay. Quitting means change and a level of uncertainty or risk you just can’t reconcile, so you continue the status quo despite the conflict between your head, heart and gut.

Maybe you’ve experienced a bad day at work, conflict with the boss, co-worker, customer or significant other. You find yourself in front of the fridge devouring last night’s leftovers, replaying the events of the day over and over again in your head, exhausted by an internal debate fueled with meaning and emotion. You ignore your gut feeling that you’re full as you continue to stuff your emotions down with food.

Perhaps you work for an organisation that primarily uses its head-intelligence to make decisions, cut off from its heart, it lacks the value-driven, emotional energy and connection with people. Perhaps the organisation ignores its gut-intelligence and when challenges arise, is unable to manage risks and insufficient drive to follow through with decisions. An organisation without head-intelligence on the other hand, is unable to properly think through and analyse problems for effective decision making. A disconnection between head, heart and gut-intelligence creates imbalance, dysfunction, conflict and restricts the growth, contribution and potential of an organisation that is surviving instead of thriving.

If two heads are better than one, imagine what you could do with three brains working in harmony. Given each brain has a different role to play and is competent in its own domain, it makes sense to avoid using one brain to do the role of another. It would be like asking your mechanic to do your bookwork and expecting the same outcome delivered by your accountant. The power comes from harnessing and integrating head-based intellect with heart-based values and gut-based instincts verses relying purely on the competencies of one alone.

Want to learn how to communicate with and balance your three brains, improve your decision making and performance in life, relationships and business? Contact