This one might be hard to explain.
You know that undeniable gnawing feeling in the top of your stomach that sinks into your body and makes you stop in your tracks for a second (or ten) to think, for the thousandth time, about the stomach-turning thing you’ve done? It feels like the first drop in a roller coaster or the moment right before you give a public speech? I asked around - apparently it’s feels different to everyone but the source is universal: you did something you wish you hadn’t done.
If you think about it scientifically it’s pretty remarkable. Our body has developed a way of self-scolding. Whether the emotion is guilt, regret, or fear of the greater shit-storm ahead, our brain connects with our body in an instant reflex of “fuuuck.” That’s impressive. Reflexes abound in the body. Touch a hot object, you jump back; hit that weird spot on your knee, your leg kicks up; drink too much alcohol, you kiss boys - but this isn’t quite the same. Hot things hurt. The leg is connected to that one knee nerve. Boys are often very cute. How does the brain know that whatever you did is worth slapping you across the stomach for?
There’s only one of two choices: it either knows because you told it so or it knows because of its mysterious, innate brain functions. There’s a term for the latter – the kind of thinking that’s an instant function of the brain: breathing, avoiding fire, sensing predators. Survival instincts maybe? Higher order thinking? I don't know, but I don’t think feeling awkward because you hooked up with a co-worker quite applies to the group.
Let’s say it’s as simple as your body’s innate reaction to an act that’s directly counter to your brain’s understanding of what is acceptable behavior. You build a system of what's acceptable and what's not in your mind – call those your morals. Then you live your life in an attempt to stick by that system – call that following your conscience. So the “fuck” in your stomach is your body somehow reminding you that you didn’t let your conscious be your guide (thank you Disney). How/why the body makes that reminder sit in your stomach vs. your feet or your arms, or your face (HA to visions of face muscle spasm) remains a mystery.
This whole system leaves you to wonder why the brain is so selectively smart. If it can trigger this constant physical punishment any time you even think about the wrong you’ve done, how is it not smart enough to stop you from doing it in the first place? If you get a dull wave of nausea every time you even remember the moment you cheated on your girlfriend, why doesn’t the body just make you vomit right before you actually do it?
- You’re drunk 90% of the time you make whatever bad decision you’ve made thus rendering the senses and morals dulled
- Sober carnal desire trumps logic, morality, and anything else of order in its path most days/nights of the week. It’s not logical it’s physical – just like that turn of the stomach.
I can’t explain how the body makes that stomach thing happen. And I can’t really explain – save for blaming alcohol and it-just-felt-right-at-the-moment – why it drives us to do whatever it then makes our stomach turn over. Seems the body's a little conflicted and dumb to be, say, running our entire lives. Then again – it does explain a lot.