Our Gut Feelings Are Not Luxuries

What are the four kinds of alienation that we experience in the modern world?

“Have you ever had a powerful gut feeling about something, you didn’t pay attention to it, and you were sorry afterwards? Our gut feelings are not luxuries.” – Dr. Gabor Mate

Alienation is a separation. Being a stranger to something. You’re an alien to something. There are four alienations in this culture.

One is we are alienated from Nature. I don’t have to say much to you to show how alienated we are from Nature when we are destroying Nature itself.

The second alienation is from other people. And that means we have less contract, we have less intimacy, we have less trust, we have less of a sense of relationship, and that leads to increased propensity to illness, both physical and mental.

We are alienated from our work. A lot of people no longer do work that has any meaning to them. When we do work that is not creative, that does not reflect who we are, that imposes, depression, anxiety, a sense of meaninglessness, and when we have a sense of meaningless, we will want to substitute that sense of meaning that we’ve lost by all kinds of other activities. And then we get all hung up on how we look or how people feel about us, what we can obtain, what we can possess, what success we can achieve, in other words, all the false substitutes, which cannot possibly compensate us for the lack of genuine meaning. And of course what this society does is sell us a bunch of products which substitute for the loss of meaning. In fact, much of the economy is based on a loss of meaning in our culture.

And finally and most importantly, we become alienated from ourselves. Let me ask you a question. How many of you have had the following experience? You had a powerful gut feeling about something, you didn’t pay attention to it, and you were sorry afterwards?

Well you know what you are telling me? You are telling me that at some point in your childhood, you got separated from yourself. Because no infant is born without gut feelings. Infants are totally connected to their gut feelings. Have you ever met a 2-day old that didn’t know how to express their gut feelings?

And that means in this culture, something very powerful happens to alienate you from your true self because the world couldn’t stand who you really were. And your parents will too stressed themselves to honor and recognize who you really were. And then we become alienated from ourselves. We shut down our gut feelings. 

And our gut feelings are not luxuries, you know. They tell is what is right and what is wrong. They tell us what is safe and what is dangerous. And they tell us what is true and what is false. So when we are alienated from our gut feelings, we no longer have a sense of reality, nor a sense of truth.

Well, the good news is that human beings can regain their sense of connection to themselves just as we can regain our sense of connection to our nature. Empathy, which is a genuine human quality, is in us. We are actually wired for empathy. We are wired for connection. We are wired for love. We are wired for compassion. All we have to do, not an easy task, but it is certainly available to us, is to get back to our true nature.

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