We often hear a lot about the great strength of the human intuition, but rarely are we taught how to accurately listen and perceive our intuition. Even though it has been proven time after time, that ourintuition is often a better decision maker than our rational mind. And so, one must ask, how do we develop our ability to utilize our powerful decision-making machine? One thing is for certain and is supported by psychologists world-wide, it is possible to master your intuition with practice and mindfulness.
Let’s Start With The Basics
Instinct: Is your inclination towards a specific behavior that dates back to our cavemen ancestors. It is not a learned response such as that of modern day behaviors.
Intuition: Is the complex system in your brain that acts as a bridge between your unconscious and conscious mind. It is the process of your brain that does not require extensive analytical reasoning. Your intuition also connects your primal instinct with your ability to reason.
Gut feeling: Is the sensation you first experience when your intuition is activated and is trying to communicate something important to your mind. It will often feel like a hunch or pull towards a certain decision. Sometimes it may even come as a whisper or the very first thought that comes to your mind when trying to decide on something.
Why Listen To The Whispers?
Carl Jung made great strides in the field of psychology and sociology through his extensive research into the unconscious mind. Jung concluded later in his life that humans who possessed optimal mental health possessed a certain level of openness to the deeper messages coming from the unconscious mind. Researchers nowadays have come to a similar conclusion about the importance of this deep connection to your unconscious. Primarily because according to present psychological research —your brain’s gray matter consists primarily of the unconscious mind. Roughly 80% of your brain’s entire gray matter is dedicated to the unconscious, while only 20% of your gray matter is utilized in your rational mind.
That’s a significant amount of your intellect, being completely devoted to supplying your intuition with brain power. Just like the famous Sigmund Feud image of the iceberg where only the tip of the iceberg can be seen from the top while the bottom lies below, with much greater size. The size and scale comparisons are spot on when it comes to your brain’s gray matter.
How To Pay Attention To The Whispers
Your brain may come back with a decision like “red”, but then your rational mind decides against it. Your rational thoughts begin filtering the whisper that your intuition brought to you because you think that red may be too bold for an interview and you just want to wear black and blend in.
What you don’t know is that your intuition decided on “red” because it’s your favorite color, and you have past experiences when wearing red brought you success in past jobs (of which your rational mind forgot about) — it also makes you feel incredibly confident which your intuition decided is essential in your interview.
So in that small amount of time, your complex system that is your intuition was able to gather all the positive data associated with colors in your life and gave you the absolute best answer. Turns out it was right, you wore red, you felt confident and you landed your dream job. Had you listened to your rational mind and contemplated for several minutes, much longer than your immediate intuitive mind, you might have been seen as “average”and turned down for the job.
The Moral of The Story
What you need to understand is that the rational mind works in a different part of the brain, specifically parts of the brain that deal with language. Thus the reason you can quite literally “talk” yourself out of just about anything, if you really choose to. Where as your intuition primarily works in your limbic system where your language is not processed; thus the reason your intuitions will always be felt rather than openly spoken in your head.
You may not be able to turn the volume down immediately, but with practice and mindfulness, you can learn to listen to the wise whispers of your unconscious mind. They’re there, but only if you pay attention and simply, listen.
About the Author
1. Chabris, C. (March 18, 2010) The Invisible Gorilla. http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/index.html
2. Bolte. A (September, 2003) Emotion and Intuition. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/14/5/416.short
3. Wilder R.L. (May 1967) The Role of Intuition. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/156/3775/605.short
**This article was originally featured at Learning-Mind.**