Definition of Intuition: “The capacity for direct knowledge and immediate insight, without any observation or reason.” – David G. Myers, PhD
How intuitive are you?
I have a hunch that you’ll enjoy this article.
We’ll cover incubation, blind readings, inner voices, ways to improve your intuition and when not to trust it.
And how real it is? Said neurology professor Antoine Bechara, as quoted in an article by Sarah Mahoney for prevention.com: “People treat intuition like it’s a dirty word, but it’s actually one of the body’s survival mechanisms . . . It’s a means of taking you away from danger and steering you toward what is good for you.”
We took the quiz!
My wife (Roe) and I took a 22 question survey on intuition, and no surprise – she’s far more intuitive that I am (she outscored me 14-8 so I’ll continue, as I have for 38 years, to defer to her instincts). And, no surprise again, surveys repeatedly find that women are more intuitive than men, that is, better at decoding human emotions. Said Mahoney: “ . . . [T]here’s plenty of evidence that women have a bit of an edge: For example . . . when shown pictures of couples, women are better at predicting which are phony and which are real. And in photos of coworkers, women are more likely to discern which one is the other’s supervisor.”
In that same article, Bechara points out that: “Intuition is most useful in ambiguous, complex decisions [and] least useful in areas where the outcomes are predictable.”
Added Mahoney: “So if you’re deciding if you should marry or whether to take that job in Boston, use your gut. Buying real estate or deciding whether to go through with that knee surgery? Check your intuition at the door, and listen to the numbers.”
Ways to improve it (incubation, a blind reading)
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, noting that “intuition is a natural process,” recommends spending more time in nature, keeping an Intuition Diary, finding an Intuitive Buddy and ONLY relying on intuition when you’re dealing with “real problems and situations.” The web site beliefnet.com explains how your intuitive powers can be honed with practice, awareness, meditative techniques, imagery, dreams, affirmations and the like.
And then there are these nontraditional methods: incubation and a blind reading. On incubation, author Philip Goldberg (“The Intuitive Edge”) explains: “Add a shot of intuition to your daily analysis. Some people thrive on data. That’s fine, but give yourself a definite cutoff point for analysis and then try a trick psychologists call incubation: Give yourself a fun distraction such as doing a puzzle or reading before making your final decision. This will allow your intuition to play a role.”
And a blind reading? Karen Hogan, writing for life.gaiam.com, provides this quick step-by-step:
1. “Sit down at a writing table with three blank index cards.
2. “Think about a decision you are currently grappling with and write three solutions for it, one on each card.
3. “Turn the cards blank-side-up, shuffle them and place them face-down on a table.
4. “Run your hands over the cards and notice the feeling of each card.
5. “Assign a percentage to each card based on how powerfully you’re drawn to it.
6. “Turn the cards over and take note of the answer with the highest percentage.”
When NOT to trust your intuition
There are plenty of occasions, psychologists report, when you should be wary, here are two.
1. Test-taking. Studies have disproved the notion that “your first guess is your best guess;” and
2. Worry. You’re thinking to yourself: “I’m so worried about ________, something must be wrong.” Said Mahoney: “People who worry excessively often confuse general anxiety with a specific fear. Researchers say that such fretting may feel like intuition but is just anxiety in disguise.”