Our gut instincts provide both evolutionary benefits and drawbacks.

I’ve been there, when someone else saw the collision of our two children on the playground well before I did-- they were observing something-- in my child or theirs-- that I wasn’t seeing-- and then blammo-- two kids with scraped knees and tears.

Why didn’t I see that?

Our gut instincts (my child isn’t the type of kid to ignore safety on a slide or walk in front of a moving swing), provide both evolutionary benefits and drawbacks. Benefits: our guts, the need to protect ourselves, gave us hundreds of thousands of years on the planet. Drawback: protection is not the same as observation.

When we trust our gut instincts in the absence of observed information, we strengthen our confirmation biases. But the gut instinct can be improved-- and should be. It requires becoming aware of our biases. Our desire to seek and accept only what we want to be true.

In order to improve our initial reactions to circumstances, we need to be aware of where they come from.

First, we can ask: what do we want the outcome to be? Then, acknowledge your biases and allow your intuitive thoughts and reactions to be true.

Originally published on LinkedIn.