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
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, wishful thinking?
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 to us.
What do you mean â€œHow it speaks to us.â€ Isnâ€™t it the same? What
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
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 path herself.
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 and wins.
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