In the last blog it was mentioned that Einstein had faith in his intuition—a trait, according to Psychology Today, that may be limited. Gut feelings have their value, yet do not always result in the best decisions. Many regard intuition as a “magical phenomenon.”
Essentially, intuition involves the brain being on autopilot—processing information without conscious awareness of doing so. Hunches born out of intuition are formed on the basis of past experiences and cumulative knowledge. This combination, whether conscious or not, can yield positive, unexpected outcomes—as many who trust their intuition have learned.
A personal example is when I graduated from high school, I was offered a full scholarship by a college in my state. However, intuitively I chose to attend Marquette University in Wisconsin, where I eventually would graduate with a bachelors degree in nursing. Only later did I realize my intuitive choice led to greater opportunities throughout my life.
Non-conscious processes operate both in routine activities and also in complex decision-making, often without due credit. Intuition is especially helpful for trivia and test taking, since test takers unconsciously access related cues and past problem-solving patterns. In relationships, hunches about a partner’s thoughts and feelings are often reliable since couples know each other well. First impressions typically are the product of unconscious processing of many cues at one time, although they are based less on prior knowledge and need to be readily subject to revision.
For situations with the greatest consequences, such as financial investment and ethical decisions, natural impulses are best checked by greater reflection or conferring with a friend or advisor. There is no substitute for devoting the time to gathering information about a task or situation.
But we need not be afraid of the participation of the unconscious in our lives. People often cite rational-sounding criteria for their actions, and do not realize the subjective preferences of feelings that arise spontaneously—and contribute to the experience. Tapping into intuition can be an excellent way to begin the decision-making process, before applying logic to determine if one has reached the correct conclusion.
In what way are you aware of your intuition? Is the above information about hunches and more logical reasoning new to you? Do you consider yourself someone who operates more from intuition or from logic and reasoning; can you sense the pros and cons of both? What examples come to mind?