“Intuition is the nose of the heart.” ― Amit Kalantri
A while back, I wrote a blog about how unnecessary the Myers Briggs personality test is (read it here). My reasoning is that if you know yourself and have any sort of identity, you shouldn't need a test to understand who you are. However, the giant, gaping hole in my logic is that I assumed people pay attention to themselves, their habits, emotions, experiences, etc.
Intuition is simply, "Things we know or consider strongly likely from instinctive feelings rather than conscious reasoning."
We often ignore our intuition, for a variety of reasons: social pressure, familial pressure, self-induced ideas about who we are and what we should be doing. We might not want to believe that our intuition is right, or we may simply be too busy to hear our intuition clearly. We remain in toxic relationships, take jobs we're not prepared for, study subjects we don't want to study, engage in activities we have no interest in, all because we ignore our intuition. Simply put, there is no "out-smarting" our intuitions.
Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, says intuition is about instinctively understanding what information is unimportant and discarding it. He claims intuition should also be rational, meaning we need to examine our gut instincts to better understand and trust them. We cannot learn to trust our intuition through passivity. Those who are truly intuitive take a deep dive into a subject or situation, study numerous outcomes or possibilities, and then listen to their instincts when making an informed decision. In some respects, intuition might simply be a a clear understanding of collective intelligence. For example, navigating a mobile phone was once not intuitive, but since they've become incredibly common and follow similar patterns, we all know how to use them. We've figured out how to use essential components while ignoring or discarding the unessential bits.
Albert Einstein said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
When I neglected my intuition and stayed with my unfaithful partner, I listened to the rational side of my brain that simply believed his promises and collected reasons to stay. I ignored my gut instinct, which was telling me loudly that this person was not good for me. Had I respected my intuition, we may have parted ways much sooner. This Forbes article articulates why intuition is a characteristic of highly intelligent people, "The smartest people among us - the ones who make great intellectual leaps forward - cannot do this without harnessing the power of intuition."
Some tips for accessing your intuition:
- Give yourself some space and solitude. This can help you engage in deeper thought and reconnect with your emotions, thoughts, wants, and needs.
-Do something creative. Writing, painting, music, dance, anything creative will help you access your intuition. As Researcher and author Carla Woolf writes, "Creativity does its best work when it functions intuitively, and practicing one may build up the other."
-Practice mindfulness. This means paying attention to your current experience in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness can help us better understand our own personalities, making intuitive decision-making second nature.
-Listen to your body. In the health world, the gut is called the "second brain" meaning there are neurons in the gut that coordinate contractions in the gastrointestinal tract. Having a "gut feeling" is nothing more than a physical reaction to an emotional response, so you should listen to them.
-Tune into your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Research shows that we mirror other's facial expressions and demeanor. Spending time observing and listening to your own emotions will make you more empathetic, allowing you to tune in to your intuition.
In order to act on our intuition, we must pay attention to it. Few things stifle intuition as easily as constant busyness, multitasking, connectivity to digital devices and stress and burnout. Arianna Huffington writes that we always have an intuitive sense about the people in our lives but we're not always awake enough to our intuition to acknowledge the difference to ourselves. The problem is not that our intuition is absent, it's simply that we're too busy.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, writes, "One of the most important discriminations we can make in life is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the choice of mates and lovers. A lover cannot be chosen a la smorgasbord. A lover has to be chosen from soul-craving. To choose just because something mouthwatering stands before you will never satisfy the hunger of the soul-self. And that is what the intuition is for; it is the direct messenger of the soul.”
P.S. I highly recommend reading (or listening to) Pinkola Estes' book. Find it here. "Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller shows how women's vitality can be restored through what she calls "psychic archaeological digs" into the ruins of the female unconscious. Using multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, Dr. Estes helps women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype."