“It is with logic that we prove and with intuition that we find” – Henri Poincaré
Intuition – definition
According to Daniel Kahneman, we function according to two systems of thought, one governed by reason and slow, the other faster and dominated by intuition. The latter, while more prone to error, is nevertheless an important mechanism in decision making.
The most empirical among us call it the sixth sense or the inner guide, and refer to it as a form of wisdom and infinite knowledge, a kind of instinct that should lead us to make the right choice. Thus, it is a feeling, an inexplicable conviction that often turns out to be right, after the fact. A knowledge that does not cross the barrier of the mind and reflection, the one that delimits our rational system. It is therefore an impression beyond our consciousness, an intuitive reading that gives us precious information, without being able to justify it.
Such an inaccessible and yet very present phenomenon has also seduced the most scientific people, who have in turn looked into the matter. Neuroscientists explain the mechanism of intuition by the analysis of internal and external information in an unconscious way, which then translates into a subliminal perception, a strange sensation, on the surface of our thoughts, just accessible to those who know how to grasp and listen to it. Intuition would therefore be a form of intelligence governing the emotional, relational and adaptive part of our brain.
From this point of view, if it is difficult to recognize and understand these signs sent by our unconscious, it is nevertheless possible to develop this capacity, in the same way that to find one’s bearings on a map, one learns to use a compass.
Do we always have to listen to it?
Yes and no. Reason is often the best guide because it encourages us to make measured, prudent choices, but above all, calculated according to accessible and interpretable information. Intuition is not based on anything concrete, but rather on an impression, which creates a permanent battle between logic and thought, between the ego and the super-ego. It is therefore a risk to take to listen to our intuition, even if it is important to let ourselves be guided at times and thus have the opportunity to seize opportunities and dare to make certain choices.
Finally, the objective is not to abandon our rational mind, but to find the right balance between reason and intuition, in order to make the best decisions.
It is also important to note that certain disorders can alter our perception, by pushing us to listen to an intuition influenced by bad emotions or ideas.
When does it happen?
Our intuition manifests itself at every moment, especially when we are not really paying attention to it and when our mind is free of any parasitic thoughts. It is therefore a daily feeling, when we meet a person (the famous “first impression”), solve a problem, make a difficult or trivial decision, start a medical treatment, receive a job offer and so on.
In all these situations, intuition translates into an interpretable sensation, either physically, such as a lump in the stomach, a strong feeling or a shiver, or mentally, through an inner voice, a fleeting thought, etc.
Developing your intuition
As the elders say, we can often rely on our senses. Whether it is through smell, sight (peripheral vision), touch (sweaty palms), hearing or even physical reactions (stomach ache, knots in the stomach, stress, excitement) and physiological reactions (accelerated breathing, pounding heart), the body communicates and we must know how to listen to it, be attentive to the different sensations in order to detect the signs and then act.
- Letting go
Once the signs have been detected, it is not a question of thinking about their interpretation, but of letting yourself be invaded by this sensation and letting go. Indeed, if we give special importance to something elusive, we must also recognize that we all have limits and weaknesses, and therefore accept that we cannot always act in certain situations.
- Cultivate calm
Having a free mind is important to give our unconscious the opportunity to send us information. In this way, we give ourselves the opportunity to be one-on-one with ourselves and thus better “hear” the signals.
Breathing exercises and meditation are a good way to achieve this state of mind. We can also find distractions and allow our brains to process the information unconsciously, or give ourselves a break before thinking about the problem again, more calmly and with more distance. In the same way, going to bed allows us to process and analyze the day’s issues.
4. Trusting yourself
Letting your intuition guide you is first and foremost trusting your instinct or first impression. Thus, being honest with oneself is essential to develop this feeling and dare to take the risk of listening to oneself.
Having a good self-esteem also allows you to use your knowledge and common sense, which are also essential guides in making the right decision.
5. Take notes
Writing remains the best way to remember and become aware of the underlying mechanism of intuition. Keeping a notebook where we note the physiological signals but also the path that leads us to the resolution of the problem, is to learn to spot them more easily and to tame, in a way, our unconscious.
Finally, to develop one’s intuition is above all to learn to listen to it, first in familiar situations, then in everyday life, and little by little without thinking about it. Being receptive is within everyone’s reach, but sharpening one’s intuitive intelligence is a daily task.