Intuition, gut feelings, hunches— we all have terms for the messages that come from within, telling us things without logic or observations to support them. How is it that sometimes we just “know” things without being able to explain how? What is intuition, and how much should we trust it?
It turns out, intuition isn’t as mysterious as we might think. A lot of what we consider to be intuition is subconscious knowledge and memory, the things we don’t even know we know. Our brains access that unspoken information to help us, giving us a better ability to understand our world and make decisions than we could just using our conscious minds and logic.
“We may actually know more than we think we know in everyday situations,” Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, told LiveScience. Using intuition, our minds can access memories and other details we don’t even remember collecting. We might think of our intuition simply as a gut feeling, but the truth is that it’s its own kind of knowledge and can be just as helpful as we journey through life.
Intuition in Business
You may have heard that in your professional life, the only way to succeed is to put your feelings aside. While staying in control of your emotions is important, suppressing them can be dangerous. Think about it: not only are you invalidating your own responses to things, but you’re ignoring information that could be helpful to you!
Studies say that the emotional parts of our brains might be able to respond faster to stimuli than the cognitive side can; in other words, your feelings can bring you some information faster than your rational thoughts can. When you’re more in touch with your emotions, it can give you greater insight into your intuition.
A study by Harvard Business Review of 36 CEOs found that 85% of them relied on their intuition (in the form of rules of thumb) to make decisions. These rules of thumb were various forms of shorthands for all the knowledge that their experience had given them, put into a form that was useful and accessible for them. Instead of trying to discount or suppress their intuition, some of our culture’s most successful people know to value and prioritize it as an asset. Your intuition can be a skill that can help you accomplish your goals if you learn to pay attention to it.
When you’re following your intuition in business, it means listening to the side of your brain that sees things you can’t. Body language, past experience, and so many other things could be informing the gut feeling that’s nagging at the back of your mind. When you’re dealing with other people, or even just comparing a current situation to something that you’ve experienced before, your intuition can help bridge the gap between your conscious and your subconscious and carry you even further towards your goals.
Intuition and Creativity
Every day, you experience far more than you’re able to consciously process. Sights, feelings, interactions: your unconscious mind stores so much of it away. This subliminal knowledge can give so much power to your creativity. It’s important to listen to your heart when you’re creating— it has so much of value to offer!
Creative efforts are a space you can, and should, trust yourself the most. You have nothing to lose from leaning into your intuition and following it wherever it leads you. Leaning into your deeper spirit will yield truer results; not only will trusting your intuition help you produce creative works but it can help you know yourself better.
We know that our hearts speak in more ways than just logic and thoughts. How else can you explain the way certain songs, paintings, or other works of art speak to us? Letting our intuition guide our creativity will produce results we would never see otherwise. Your intuition can point you towards a wound that needs healing or an issue you weren’t aware of because it sees things that our conscious selves are blind to. Making it a priority to listen to and trust your intuition can give new life to your creative process.
Ways To Strengthen Your Intuition
Studies have shown that just like any other skill or muscle, your intuition gets stronger the more often you use it. Intuition is a superpower and we have a lot to gain from learning how to trust and rely on it more fully. Here are a few ways you can work to make your intuition stronger and start relying on it more:
- Keep A Journal. Journaling is a great way to let your inner self out and start to familiarize yourself with your deeper thoughts and feelings. If you want to sharpen your intuition, use the journal to trace moments you had particularly strong feelings about choices and keep track of how situations turned out when you followed your intuition.
- Meditate. One of the many benefits of meditation is that it can help you strengthen your inner voice, creating a quiet place where your intuition can speak up and be heard.
- Pay Attention To Your Dreams. Have you ever noticed how after a particularly vivid dream, the emotions of it stay with your far longer than any specific details? Dreaming is one of the ways your brain processes the information it spends all day taking in. Taking care to write down and remember your dreams, specifically the feelings associated with them, can help you understand what your subconscious is trying to tell you.
- Try New Things. One of the ways to gain more intuition is simply to experience more things. It might not sound pleasant, but even failing at things can teach you something new and add to your intuition’s ability to recognize patterns and predict what could happen next.
Whether you tend to go with their gut or you have trouble trusting your instincts, it can be helpful to learn the true power that your intuition can hold for you. Rather than being a thing of mystery, intuition can be a real asset and skill that can help you navigate life if you work to strengthen, sharpen, and trust it. The next time you have a nagging feeling about something, consider listening closer to what your intuition is trying to tell you— it might know something you don’t!