Intuition is the reason that you know more than you think you know. Once you recognize how much of your mental activity takes place subconsciously, you can make better use of the knowledge and abilities you already possess.
These are strategies for finding a healthy balance between critical thinking and gut feelings.
Relying on Intuition in Your General Routine
1. Acknowledge the role of intuition. Cognitive
science is giving more and more credit to the part our hunches play in our
thoughts and behavior. You might mistakenly assume you’re making rational
decisions when you’re really operating on autopilot. Just think of the times
you’ve driven home out of habit while you were lost in thought about something
2. Challenge gender stereotypes. Even the
experts are divided about whether women have stronger intuitions. Many studies
suggest that women in general are more sensitive to emotional cues but
individuals vary widely in their abilities.
3. Look for connections. Your intuitions
are most reliable in the areas where you have the most experience and
expertise. Study a situation in terms of its similarities to something you’ve handled
before and look for ways to categorize it.
4. Train at making snap judgments. Gut
feelings enable you to respond quickly when necessary. When the stakes are low,
practice building up your confidence by deciding things quickly, like what to
eat for dinner or which movie to see.
5. Nurture your sense of curiosity. Those
who are curious about others are often the best judges of character. Experiment
with putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand the reasoning for their
6. Put your emotions into perspective. We
often exaggerate how much external events will affect us. Whether you win the
lottery or lose a bet, you’ll probably soon return to being as happy as you
ever were, so listen to your feelings without getting carried away.
7. Be realistic about your limitations. It’s
tempting to see what you want to see and overlook errors. Be disciplined about
scrutinizing your actions and learning from mistakes.
Relying On Intuition In Specific Circumstances
1. Make friends and fall in love. Our
first judgments about people are often reliable. You’re likely to recognize the
people who will enrich your life as long as you keep an open mind about seeing
the good in everyone.
2. Know when to stay silent. For the sake
of your relationships, it’s often better to keep your hunches to yourself even
when they’re accurate. For example, your friend may not appreciate being
reminded that her consumption of ice cream doubled after her divorce.
3. Take pleasure in major purchases. Pick
out a house you’ll enjoy living in rather than getting distracted by real
estate trends. You’re likely to feel more satisfied in the long run. On the
other hand, listen to experts when you’re making financial investments.
4. Evaluate your fears. Evolution makes us
vulnerable to exaggerating fears that have immediate and vivid consequences
rather than more probable but subtler consequences. Keep that in mind if you
get more alarmed by killer bees than obesity.
5. Listen to your conscience. Most healthy
adults usually distinguish right from wrong spontaneously. If you feel comfortable with your
actions and at ease with people knowing about them, you’re probably on the
Go ahead and play your hunches as long as you also take the time to weigh the facts and test your conclusions.
Your gut feelings already play a big role in your relationships and decision making, so becoming more conscious of the process will help you to make better use of your intuition.