There’s a special power we all have, like a quiet voice or a tug that gives us suggestions from outside our conscious thought process. You may have heard it described as a gut-feeling, or as a hunch, or as instinct. It is called intuition and it’s actually more useful and powerful than at first glance. For some, particularly those who rely strongly on systematic thinking, it may seem an ambiguous or even doubtful subject. The truth is that intuition is a highly valued trait and using it effectively can contribute to better problem solving, emotional intelligence, and decision-making.
THE POWER & SCIENCE BEHIND INTUITION
Though intellect and intuition are often viewed as separate, they’re more accurately represented as an extension of one another. While many rely on systemic intellectual thinking to make careful decisions based on data, intuition allows you to make logical leaps based on subconscious experience. Using it is almost like finding a shortcut around the corners our intellectual reasoning hasn’t quite reached. For this reason, it’s been often thought of as a sixth sense or an emotional reaction versus a substantial thought process. The reality is that intuition is a complex process of both thought and emotion.
“GUT-FEELINGS” & THE NEUROLOGY CONNECTION
The study of intuition has fascinated psychologists of varying schools and approaches. Today, it’s generally defined as knowledge that forms without conscious effort. It is accompanied by significant emotional surety, as though coming from deep within. Psychologists think that it has something to do with subconscious pattern-matching between both current situations and accumulated long-term memory. It may exist as a result of the need to predict unexpected events quickly to avoid danger and is the same automatic process that leads to first-impressions or epiphanies.
The aforementioned sensation has substantial history in the field of neurology and it’s agreed amongst most scientists there is an overlap between gut feelings, intuition, and empathy. Despite the challenges in differentiation among the three, neuroimaging has revealed the immense computational power behind gut feelings, suggesting that there’s definitely valuable information being used by the brain. Unfortunately, narrowing down the particular intersections is inexplicable at this juncture of neurology.
THE BENEFITS OF TRUSTING YOUR GUT
The general consensus is that integrating intuition into one’s overall decision-making process is far more advantageous than relying on systematic knowledge alone. While intellectual and logical thinking is definitely a necessity, your overall decision-making may suffer without integrating your intuition. The fact that your subconscious processes and determines relevant information at a much faster rate than the conscious mind is an asset that should be recognized and harnessed. The key is to listen to the little voice in your head or the messages in your gut.
In many respects, intuition is indispensable as a means of creative problem solving. When it comes to generating new ideas or finding quick viable solutions, your intuition can be one of the strongest sources of inspiration. Under stressful circumstances that make systematic thinking more of a burden, it can be of considerable help to let your intuition guide you through it. It’s efficient and can provide the quick solution you need to reach a more ideal situation.
Another important advantage of intuition is what it tells you about others. First impressions are important because we intuitively judge others from the moment we see them. Our first impressions may not always be accurate and are certainly leaned towards our accumulated biases. However, a few useful characteristics and behaviors can be determined in a quick snapshot. For example, we may not be able to tell a person’s full potential as a teammate or partner, but we may be able to get an accurate impression of their temperament, wellbeing, level of comfort, and other personality signalers and enable effective engagements.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF IGNORING INTUITION
Intuition is really just a matter of letting it happen. Your subconscious mind unknowingly yet consistently directs information into your conscious mind. With practice, and discipline, you’ll develop an intimate acquaintance with intuition as a skill. Your intuition is guiding you towards the best conclusion a person’s accumulated knowledge has to offer. Relying overmuch on systematic thinking not only slows things down, but inhibits creative risks, connect easily with others, and produce novel ideas that could help move your forward. In essence, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to let your instincts contribute to your success and to set you on the right track.