Should You Trust Your Intuition?
Our brain manages a large quantity of unconscious information behind the scenes, without us even realizing it is doing so. Nevertheless, our consciousness overvalues its role in our mental processes, leading us to think that we are aware of and control most everything.
Researchers like Kanheman and Tversky have distinguished two means by which the human mind works: the analytical, premeditated pathway and a secondary, automatic and intuitive pathway, which works through the use of mental shortcuts or learned associations.
Thanks to the second pathway, we can actually formulate the image of a person in an instant, concretely taking only six seconds. We sometimes call it a sixth sense, and it gives us the ability to judge something as being good or bad in less than a quarter of a second.
“Buried deep within each and every one of us, there is an instinctive, heartfelt awareness that provides – if we allow it to – the most reliable guide”
Quickly figuring out who can be dangerous or not to our physical or emotional integrity, who is angry, sad, happy, or afraid, is an important cornerstone of our well-being and our survival. Further, research demonstrates that women actually have a greater ability to discern and quickly read the emotions of others, to know if someone is acting or lying, or if a partner truly loves them.
Managing these indications becomes an automatic action and as such, the older we get, the more we rely on our intuitive skills. In terms of love, the power of intuition plays an important role; often we do not know exactly what it is that makes us think that someone loves us or not. Therefore, it seems that the heart does indeed have its reasons for letting itself be guided by this sixth sense.
Plainly and simply, intuition allows us to quickly recognize and categorize situations, types of people, and consequences, but intuition can also become dangerous. Sometimes feeling too much and not thinking enough can catch up with us.
The dangers of intuition
Throughout our lives, we acquire intuitive skills that allows us to effortlessly form opinions and act quickly. However, we can make mistakes; in fact, we quite often do.
A clear example of this can be seen in the news when we see police officers acting negligently, jumping to the conclusion that an individual is dangerous because they are African, Hispanic, or Arab, or when we get carried away by what we are feeling without seeing that the person at our side is hurting us.
For this reason, we must practice recognizing situations where our prejudices can be mistaken. It’s important to try to recognize when we are acting according to suspicions or gut feelings and assess whether those are well-founded. It is important that our feelings not dominate us and that we keep our eyes peeled and balance things out when it is time to act.
Intuition and fear
Many people feel an intense fear when they think about flying in an airplane. Despite the fact that the chance of having a bus accident is 37 times greater than the chance of dying in an airplane accident, this fear keeps many people on the highways.
There are a multitude of reasons why we feel a greater fear of dramatic fatal accidents (an airplane accident) than of situations that cost millions of people their lives each year in a silent way (like tobacco use). This is one of the greatest risks of following a gut feeling: it manages to blind us and does not allow us to make logical decisions.
It is essential to give our intuition the place that it deserves: we must keep it in mind to the same degree that we must challenge it with reality. Following gut feelings brings along risks, but we shouldn’t neglect to listen to that inner “I” that in moments of silence yells things like, “Don’t let that person get near you,” “Don’t be afraid to change your life,” “Follow your dreams,” and “Do something because you like it…”
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