Intuition: Following Your Heart vs. Trusting Your Gut; by Debra Macleod

“Heart” vs. “Gut” ?

At first glance, you might think that “following your heart” and “trusting your gut” are similar.  They’re both about listening to your intuition, right?

It depends.  I think our heart – and by that I mean our desires and hopes – can definitely help us become more intuitive and make an intuitive decision or choice.

Yet here’s the stumbling block with our heart.  It can sometimes become too focused on what we want to do or what we hope (sometimes desperately hope) will happen.

As many of us have learned the hard way in life, if we desire or hope for something too strongly, those intense feelings can blur us to the reality of what’s best for us.

That purely emotional or hopeful voice – But I love him, I know it’ll work out!  I don’t care about the rotting foundation, I love this house!  It doesn’t matter what it costs, I need it – can drown out the sound of our intuitive voice.

 That Lame Excuse…..

As a couples’ mediator, I often see this play out in relationships.  I will speak with someone who intuitively knows his or her partner will never change, or that the relationship is beyond repair, yet who still clings to false hope or an unhealthy type of “love.”

Often, this person will rely on excuses to delay the inevitable decision he or she knows has to be made.  I can’t leave her until she’s finished the semester.  I can’t leave him until after his grandmother’s birthday.  I can’t leave until I find someone to take my aquarium.  I can’t leave until I can afford a new couch. 

The excuses are sometimes so transparent they would be laughable if they weren’t so sad and self-damaging.

Eventually, this person comes around.  When he or she does, the expression is always along these lines: “I knew in my gut it wouldn’t work, but I kept hoping.  I just loved him/her so much that I just didn’t want to accept it was over.”

People do this in all areas of life.  We know in our gut that we shouldn’t buy that shiny black car with the suspicious knock under the hood – but wow, it’s just so cute!  That knock will go away on its own, right?  Of course it will!

Part of you Knew it all Along

Yeah.  Fast-forward a month and about a gazillion dollars in mechanics’ fees and perhaps we’re willing to admit the truth.  I knew in my gut it was the wrong decision.

In fact, when I recently set out to buy a new car, my dad had some great advice for me: go car shopping when you’re in a bad mood.

That seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t.  In reality, that kind of approach often lets us hear our intuition clearly, without it being filtered by emotions that might mislead us or compel us to make an impulsive decision.

Yikes.  Our gut can be a real buzz kill, can’t it?  Yes, but think of your gut as a genuine friend.  As someone who will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear.

Women & Men

While both genders have the ability to trust their gut, I often find that men are particularly good at this.  Even the expression “gut instinct” has a masculine ring to it, one that resonates with men.

It sometimes seems that intuition is closer to the surface for women than it is for men.  Perhaps this is due to mother’s intuition which, despite the advances we have made in technology and medicine, still plays a significant role in child-rearing.  It’s how we keep our children alive, especially when they’re very little.  Or perhaps this is due to women’s intuition in general and society’s acceptance of it.

Yet I’ve met and heard stories of many men who are profoundly intuitive and whose “gut instinct” serves them very well both in their personal and professional life.  Any successful businessman will tell you that his gut places a big part in his decision-making.


To sum up, I’d say that in the best of circumstances, our heart and our gut tells us the same thing.  We feel loving or hopeful or happy, and on top of that we have an intuitive gut sense of peace and confidence with our decision.

Our stomach flips with true joy rather than churning with anxiety.  In the wake of a big personal or professional decision, we feel satisfied and content, rather than doubtful or stressed.

Intuition is something I’ve come to really value in all areas of my life: work, home, body, mind and spirit.  Being more intuitive is definitely part of the renewed Vesta tradition – the sacred flame is a symbol of the intuitive knowledge and ability within us all.  It’s the spark of insight the universe gifted us with.

As an avid Greco-Roman Classicist, I even wrote a book about it called Ancient Intuition: Ignite the Spark of Awareness Already Within You It’s fascinating to learn how intuition has been extolled by some of our greatest thinkers, from Aristotle to Einstein, and how it has acted as a catalyst for some of our species’ greatest accomplishments from pre-history to modern times.

It can act as a catalyst in our individual lives, too.  Intuitive people tend to live with more certainty, clarity and contentment, and tend to make decisions that are truly in their best interests.  In the end, intuition isn’t New Age thinking.  It’s ancient wisdom that you already have inside of you. So put your heart and your gut to work for you.  Your life will be better for it.

Debra Macleod


Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. is a couples and family mediator, a top-selling marriage author-expert and a popular resource for major media in North America. She is the leading proponent of the New Vesta tradition and order. Her New Vesta book series and Add a Spark women’s seminars “spread the flame” into modern lives and homes. You can visit Debra’s private practice at or her Vesta website at

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