Questions and answers about Intuition
Excerpts from a recent interview
Interviewer: OK, what is intuition? Does anyone really know? Do you know?
Susan: Well, thatâ€™s how I started years ago when I learned that intuition (or â€œgut
feelingâ€) was an Emotional Intelligence competency (my area of expertise), and I
was going to have to figure out not only what it was, but how to teach it to others.
I had a teleclass, and I asked if anyone on the call knew a lot about intuition.
There were two people. I said, â€œWhat is intuition?â€ and they both replied, calmly
and with great self-assurance, â€œItâ€™s when youâ€™re absolutely certain about something.â€
Interviewer: And so you agree with that definition?
Susan: Well sure, but thereâ€™s more to it. After years of studying it up one side
and down the other, so to speak, I have several definitions. One is that itâ€™s â€œimplicit
memoryâ€ â€“ things we know, but donâ€™t know how we know them. For instance, you interview
lots of people, right? So you probably had a keen sense that Iâ€™d be a good one to
interview â€¦ or not, right?
Interviewer: Thatâ€™s true! I read one of your articles and knew I wanted to interview
you. Thatâ€™s intuition?
Susan: Yes. We also call it â€œgut instinctâ€, and at deeper levels, we call it â€œbasic
instinctsâ€. For instance, thereâ€™s a company in the UK â€“ I work with the owner â€“
who teaches occupational safety and accident investigation. They work with people
in highly dangerous professions, such as engineers in nuclear plants. They teach
them how to use their intuition, or gut feelings, to keep themselves safe.
Interviewer: How does that work?
Susan: Well, think about when you take your dog to a new place. Heâ€™s â€œall ears,â€
right? Sometimeshe quivers. Heâ€™s smelling. Heâ€™s using all his senses to figure out
whether heâ€™s safe there or not. And we have to get back to that. I say â€œget back
to thatâ€ because consider, well, an engineer for instance. Years of training in
logic and reason, data and facts. But what will warn him that somethingâ€™s about
to explode? Only his basic instincts. Reason is of no use. Do you see what I mean?
Interviewer: Yes. Like when you walk in a dark alley and feel funny, or your hair
stands on end. Or I guess when I meet someone I â€¦ well, thereâ€™s that word â€¦ someone
I instinctively donâ€™t like.
Susan: Thatâ€™s when youâ€™re using your intuition.
Interviewer: Well, does everyone have it?
Susan: Yes, but weâ€™re not all using it.
Interviewer: What do you recommend using it for?
Susan: Itâ€™s the quickest and surest way to â€œknowâ€ something. I mean, donâ€™t you know
right away whether you trust someone or not? You might do what I call â€œover-rideâ€
it with your logic and analysis, but time and time again I hear someone say, â€œI
KNEW he was a rat â€¦ but I â€¦â€ and thatâ€™s when we outthink ourselves. We go to using
the thinking brain, the neocortex, when we should go with our feelings.
Interviewer: Well how do you know when itâ€™s your intuition instead of, for instance,
Susan: If youâ€™re new to this, you may NOT know. We all have intuition, but in some
of us its poorly developed, in the sense that we arenâ€™t familiar with how it speaks
Interviewer: What do you mean â€œHow it speaks to us.â€ Isnâ€™t it the same? What is
Susan: Some people get a visual picture. Others receive words. One person I know
will start humming a tune, and when she gets conscious about what sheâ€™s humming,
thereâ€™s a message in there for her.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Susan: Well, she was having a terrible time financially. She lost all her money
in the stock market, then tried to start a new business and lived on her savings
and credit cards, and at some point realized she was in a deep hole. As she dealt
with the reality of it, she kept humming â€“ well silently really, just a message,
â€œIâ€™ve come to the end of the rainbow.â€ It was a very dark time for her. Then she
started to work on the problem, checked on filing bankruptcy and found out the options
werenâ€™t so bad. Then the internal â€˜songâ€™ became, â€œThe long and winding trail.â€ She
was on the path toward recovery.
Well, sheâ€™s also a coach, and she gets these songs sometimes with clients. One time
she was listening to a client talk, and realized afterwards she was humming a tune
that 'got' the essence of the client and what he was doing. It was â€œRamblinâ€™
Manâ€ and he was having an affair on his wife. "A rambler and a gambler and
a sweet-talkin' ladies man..." She knew she was being led down a primrose
Interviewer: But what about decisions?
Susan: You get an absolute and sure feeling. Now think about that for a moment.
How often, in important decisions, are you 100% sure and certain? If and when you
are, itâ€™s your intuition.
Interviewer: How would you use intuition?
Susan: Itâ€™s particularly good for the harder decisions in life; when the data runs
out. For instance, you can meet someone who meets all your requirements for a partner.
You know how people tell you to make a list? So you make a list, and this person
comes along, and theyâ€™re the right age, right education, right background â€¦ but
still thereâ€™s something wrong. You just donâ€™t feel good with them, or they make
you feel bad about yourself. You feel ambivalent, then, in conflict. Part of you
says â€œyesâ€ and part of you says â€œno.â€
If you continue logically thinking about it, you may convince yourself the person
is right because they meet the criteria, when theyâ€™re wrong, because they donâ€™t
work for you. Itâ€™s not a good fit. They treat you badly, or make you feel bad about
yourself. Iâ€™m sure a number of people have married people for the wrong reason â€“
the logical reason. And we all know partners who seem so odd, so mismatched, but
theyâ€™re madly in love and singing a great song together. Itâ€™s love, and itâ€™s beyond
reason. You know how we say, â€œThe heart has its own reasonsâ€?
Interviewer: OK what about business or finances? Should we consult a psychic then?
Susan: This is about your own internal knowing. And yes, itâ€™s quite good for business
decisions. Think about investing in the stock market, for instance. You (and stock
brokers) can read the prospectus, and learn the fundamentals, and still lose your
shirt. It isnâ€™t that easy. Unless you have good intuition and can go with that.
Thatâ€™s what helps you pick a winner. The best stock broker I know also bets on horses
Interviewer: When would you recommend NOT using intuition?
Susan: When you arenâ€™t experienced in it. Then it can be wishful thinking, or fear,
or both. You can get in trouble.
Interviewer: Do you have some recommendations for how to develop your intuition?
Susan: Yes. I teach it all the time. Start with something small and of no consequence.
For instance, stand around in the produce section of the grocery and try and figure
out what produce which person will buy. Or when the phone rings, try and guess who
it is. Itâ€™s a way of inviting your intuition to stand up and be known. Thatâ€™s how
you develop it. Invite it into your life and start listening. Or seeing. Some people
get it visually.
By â€œinvite it into your life,â€ I mean this. When youâ€™re falling asleep at night,
just silently say, â€œIâ€™d like to have good intuitionâ€ and leave it at that. Itâ€™s
a time when your brain is very receptive, and of course you leave the details up
to your higher self. It will get you there.
Interviewer: Why are some people leery about it?
Susan: Because it seems like blackmarket knowledge; too â€œeasyâ€ for some people to
accept. Also because it canâ€™t be explained. Itâ€™s knowing without knowing how you
know. People who are highly intellectual and rational, want reasons. They want a
logical explanation for everything, and thatâ€™s not what intuition is about. However,
many people turn around and rationalize it for others. In the business world, some
of the best people go on their â€œgut instinct,â€ but then they turn around and give
reasons. Thatâ€™s okay. Thatâ€™s fine. Itâ€™s just now becoming acceptable in the work
world, so a personâ€™s justified.
Interviewer: Can you give an example?
Susan: Yes. Say you have narrowed it down to three candidates who all look the same
on paper, same credentials, all equally qualified. How do you choose the right one
for the job? You have to go on your gut feeling. Thatâ€™s your guide. Great HR people
have keen instincts.
Interviewer: What about in science, or medicine for instance? Would anyone use it?
Or accept it?
Susan: Well, I work with a physician now. Heâ€™s been practicing medicine, internal
medicine, where itâ€™s all hidden, for 40 years now, and of course heâ€™s uncanny in
diagnosing. Heâ€™s also a friend of mine, and when weâ€™re out, heâ€™ll say,â€œThat personâ€™s
got ulcers,â€ and Iâ€™ll say, â€œHow do you know that?â€ Heâ€™ll wink and say, â€œA little
birdie told me.â€ He sees the most incredible things â€¦ from years of experience,
you see. Sometimes he gets tests for confirmation, but itâ€™s his instincts that have
to lead him to the right test. There are millions, you know, and theyâ€™re expensive.
Interviewer: Is there anything youâ€™d like to add about intuition? How someone could
develop it, or learn more about it?
Susan: Belleruth Naparstek has written a great book called â€œYour Sixth Sense: Unlocking
the Power of Your Intuition.â€ They can also work with a certified EQ coach. And
then try the exercises I mentioned. You canâ€™t just read about it. Thatâ€™s why coaching
is good. You have to put it into practice, for months, and itâ€™s good to get feedback.
Interviewer: And everyone has it?
Susan: Yes, I think, or they wouldnâ€™t be here. Think of all the times â€œsomethingâ€
has saved you from an unsafe situation. That was your intuition. Thank it, use it,
develop it, and enjoy the certainty and safety it brings to your life.
For Further Reading