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Intuition is an EQ competency, that is it's considered something necessary to successful living, and something to be respected and valued. In recent years it has emerged from obscurity, even suspicion. What exactly is intuition?
Main Entry: in·tu·i·tion
1 : quick and ready insight
2 a : immediate apprehension or cognition
b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference(www.m-w.com)
According to Intuition magazine online, “intuition is increasingly recognized as a natural mental faculty, a key element in the creative process, a means of discovery, problem solving, and decision making. Once considered the province of a gifted few, it is now recognized as an innate capacity available to everyone--not a rare, accidental talent, but a natural skill anyone can cultivate.” Remember those math problems you got the correct answer for, but you didn’t get full credit because you couldn’t show your work? Intuition, Intuition magazine says, “is a key ingredient in what we call genius, and it is also an important tool when applied to everyday life.”
That having been said, from where does this almost mystical ability come?
In their amazing book, "A General Theory of Love", authors Lewis, Amini and Lannon, all doctors, agree that all of us acquire wonderfully complicated knowledge that we cannot describe, explain, or recognize.
They cite researchers Knowlton, Mangels and Squire, who devised an interesting experiment – they gave subjects the task of predicting the weather in a simple computer model. They designed the experiment so that as unhelpful as the cues looked, they did relate lawfully to the outcomes, but the relationship between cues and effects was deliberately such a complex and probabilistic function that even the smartest person couldn’t figure it out. It was way too difficult for logic to unravel; that is, subjects would have to approach this task without the use of the neocortex.
The researchers were right. No one figured it out, but that didn’t stop them from getting better at the system they couldn’t understand or describe! After just 50 trials, the average subject was right 70% of the time, which means, of course, that some were doing far better than that. What they were doing was gradually developing a feel for the situation and intuitively grasping the essence of what was going on.
We tend to believe that success can only come from understanding (via the neocortex), but in reality our marvelous brains, when presented with repetitive experiences, are able to extract unconsciously the rules that underlie them. “Such knowledge,” say Lewis, Amini, and Lannon, “develops with languorous ease and inevitability, stubbornly inexpressibly, never destined for translation into words.” Words being a neocortical ability.
Things we can’t describe, but we "know," come from our implicit memory. Our implicit memory ensures that “camouflaged learning” permeates out lives. Spoken language, for instance, is a confusing assortment of phonological and grammatical rules that we couldn’t possibly describe, yet we all learn to speak our native tongue. In fact, children are able to learn it without any formal instruction at all. Similarly, in learning foreign languages, it’s generally considered that “immersion” is the best way to attain fluency – spending your days with native speakers and just absorbing it. Consider the extent to which we intuit. In his book, "Language Instinct," Steven Pinker observes that we all ‘know’ that “thole, plast and flitch are not English words but they could be, whereas vlas, ptak, and nyip cannot be English.” Why? Well, just because, but wouldn’t you agree?
The advantages of intuition? It’s much quicker – and also surer – to use your intuition. You have a greater grasp on reality, as it were, when you don’t confuse things by bringing in the neocortex. "Reason," said Pascal, “is the slow and tortuous method by which those who do not know the truth discover it.”
“There is guidance available to us at all times,” says Penny Peirce, “just belowI> the surface of our logic, just after we stop pushing and striving, just before we jump to conclusions. By cultivating the ability to pause and be comfortable with silence, and then by focusing steadily and listening for the first sounds or feelings, for the first impressions, you can help your intuition wake up suddenly and enthusiastically, as if from a long winter’s nap.”
How do you develop your intuition? One way is to learn to still your self-talk, what I refer to as “the Talking Head” – that constant yammering that goes on inside your head. Get centered. Quiet your thinking mind. Slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Listen. Practice.
“Although intuition is a natural resource,” says Nancy Rosanoff, an intuition trainer, “it functions best when developed and exercised. Like a muscle, intuition becomes strong, reliable, and precise when trained and put to use."
So what’s the buzz about intuition? It’s coming into its own. It’s getting legitimate. Corporations are even hiring intuitionists to make decisions. I say it’s about time, because it’s a much surer way to make a decision than are logic and reason; an important decision that is. How much data would be too much to know about the woman you’re going to be leaving your baby with all day? About the man you’re considering marrying? At some point the data ends, and you make a decision based on your feelings. Do you doubt this? Oliver Wendell Holmes, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said that 90% of the decisions at his level were emotional. He just rationalized them afterwards. As we all have done.
“In small matters, use the head,” said Freud, “and in large matters, the heart.” And that's intuition!
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