Trust your gut. Follow your instincts. From self-help books to Albert Einstein, we’re advised to follow our intuitions. But often times in actual situations, we discount it. Imagine sitting in a board meeting, discussing a merger, and someone says, “I have a bad feeling about it. Let’s not do this.” Everyone is going to ask that person to back up the feeling with hard data. A hunch isn’t going to get you a warrant, evidence will (although a hunch may help guide you to the evidence.) Doctors won’t tell you they have a feeling your strange mole isn’t cancerous. They’ll do a biopsy to confirm. This is all responsible and logical behavior.
Intuition is also often attributed as a female trait. Female intuition. Mother’s intuition. I’ve known many a man to discount his own intuitive abilities. It can also be used to discount a woman’s opinion on a matter in a sexist way. Womens’ intuition. Hah. She’s being too emotional about it.
Another aspect of intuition is our assigning spiritual or supernatural meaning to it. A message from God, ghosts, or mystical powers.
I am an intensely intuitive person. My intuition often speaks to me in such strong language that I can’t possibly ignore it. For example, the time in college when my new neighbor knocked on my door and I was immediately overwhelmed with crushing paralyzing fear, unlike any I had ever experienced. The first thought I had was, “This man will rape and murder me.” He asked if I lived alone, and I was so grateful my cousin was visiting at the time. “No. I have a boyfriend,” I stated with grave seriousness, staring him down. But I did live alone, and so I never did my laundry after dark, and spent my time either locked in the apartment or quickly leaving, never lingering in the building. A few months later I awoke on a Sunday morning to a physical altercation next door, then screaming as my neighbor stabbed his best friend 17 times. Thankfully the police responded quickly enough that the friend survived with relatively minor injuries. My window and door were covered in blood splatter, a scene out of a horror movie.
Other times it’s more subtle, guiding me in good decision-making or helping me solve problems. It’s guided me to identifying health problems and helped me be an active participant in my road to better health. When I don’t listen, that’s when things don’t go quite right, often thwarting me enough to be left with the decision I didn’t choose, the one my intuition wanted me to do in the first place. With such an ability, I wonder why I discount it so often.
Recently we toured a beautiful home. We’re in the market for a larger place. This home fit our needs, was in immaculate condition, was in an excellent location, and had a meticulously planned and maintained garden. It was perfect. Except for the nagging feeling in my gut saying, “DON’T BUY THIS HOUSE.” I felt repulsion and we couldn’t drive away fast enough. I tried to find a logical reason for my feeling, but found none. Why would I not buy this house? So we put in an offer and it got accepted. Then I started having violent nightmares. For a week straight.
Two weeks ago my realtor and the inspector went to conduct the home inspection. The seller’s partner must not have gotten the message, as they found him at home, having just woken up from a night of drinking. Angered and belligerent, the man started ranting threatening nonsense. The inspection didn’t come back that clean either. There were enough troubling repairs required that neither my husband nor I trusted the seller would be able to fix them with this mentally unstable character around. The nightmares stopped when we pulled out of the deal.
Was the man a real threat? Would we have been saddled with thousands of dollars of repairs later on? Or was I just picking up on his negativity when we visited the house? I have no idea how this thing works, it just does, out of nowhere.
Turns out there’s a reason for that. There are many studies that show intuition is instinct, and humans have the ability just as much as any other animal. Being an early evolved mechanism, the process doesn’t involve the frontal cortex, but instead uses a different track involving our “lizard brain” the amygdala, basal ganglia, and other parts of the brain. So, yes, I have no idea how this thing works because it’s automatic. Intuition isn’t an active thought process in my awareness. The knowledge just shows up. Don’t buy that house.
It’s not magic, it’s not being psychic, it’s a brain function developed to keep me away from lions and tigers and bears. So trust your intuition and actively cultivate it. It will keep you safe, might help you make better business decisions by allowing you to read your allies and adversaries, or help you solve problems.
Intuition is your ally.