What happens if you trust your gut instinct and it tells you to do something stupid? Do we really have a wise inner voice guiding us the rough shoals of life?
Science types like to argue that intuition is merely information stored in the subconscious, ready when we need it. But the spiritually inclined see it as a communication between our ethereal selves and the part of us that lives on the physical and mental plane.
Either way, everyone likes to say women have a lot more of it. We “just know things” those thick-skulled boys don’t.
I don’t know how true this is. Sometimes I’m a pretty shitty judge of character, and I have a huge problem with decision-making. Try going out for lunch with me sometime. I never feel like I can trust my sixth sense, even if it’s just telling me to order a sandwich. (What if the pasta is better?!)
There’s hope, though.
Apparently, we can learn to conjure this inner mentor.
What the experts say
“I’m a firm proponent of accessing our intuition every day. Most people wait until they’re in hot water, facing backruptcy or a failed marriage. It’s something that needs to be practised. We can do this by looking at our day and asking where the question marks may be. Do we need inspiration? Or help making a decision? Ask for assistance, setting the intention to receive some information. Intuition can be used to achieve optimal health by asking what we can do to promote our good health. The subconscious has a lot of information we don’t consciously know. When grocery shopping, ask yourself what your body needs. Everyone can develop their intuition.”
ANDREA HESS, intuitive consultant, author, Unlock Your Intuition, Guadalupe, Arizona
“My mission is to educate patients and health care professionals about how using intuition can enhance their experience if they get an illness and have to make decisions. Intuition can be an extra weapon. Watch for early warning signs that something is off in your body. Oftentimes you can feel it before a big illness comes; it’s early listening. The same thing works with relationships and emotions. Listen to your energetic reaction. If you’re with someone who saps your energy, you don’t want to marry that person.”
JUDITH ORLOFF, MD, author, Intuitive Healing, Los Angeles
“We looked at the anterior cingulate cortex. That part of the brain is involved in monitoring the outcome of our behaviour. What we found is that people tend to learn from previous situations in which they’ve made a mistake and had something bad happen. That area provides a prediction of error likelihood and potential danger. Sometimes people get a feeling they’re doing something wrong but can’t explain it. In the real world, they might be interacting with someone and get a bad feeling about them. One possible reason is that they may have had bad experiences with people who shared characteristics with that person. But perhaps that person is not like the person from the past. So sometimes past experience is a good predictor and sometimes it’s not.”
JOSHUA BROWN, assistant professor, psychological and brain sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington
“Studies have demonstrated that humans have evolved two systems through which they make decisions. One operates beyond conscious awareness, while the second system requires more conscious attention. Intuition occurs in situations of information overload or where information is incomplete and decisive action has to be taken. Genuine intuition catches people by surprise and manifests itself as a keen sense of the action required, without knowing why. Often, people do not embark on complex decisions by carefully weighing all the available evidence systematically, as classical theories of decision-making hold. Rather, they switch back and forth between deliberate, effortful analysis and rapid-fire decisions on the basis of accumulated experience and a strong sense of direction.”
GERARD HODGKINSON, professor, Leeds University Business School, co-author, Intuition: A Fundamental Bridging Construct In The Behavioural Sciences, British Journal Of Psychology, Leeds, England