Do you trust your instinct? More and more research is saying that you should. We look first at the evidence, and then at how you can develop your instincts to become more accurate.
Evidence that you should trust your instinct
In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell gives numerous examples of instinct besting logic.
In one example, the Getty Museum in California purchased an ancient Greek statue called a kouros. The decision to go ahead with the $10 million purchase was made after 14 months of extensive scientific tests that concluded the kouros was authentic.
Three art historians who viewed the statue though, were uneasy about it. One stated firmly that it was a fake, one felt it lacked spirit, and the other was repulsed at first sight. They had no logical explanation for their reactions.
Eventually investigations revealed that the statue was a hoax, validating the intuition of all three men.
In August 2008, Dr Pessiglione and team demonstrated that human beings have a subconscious learning mechanism. The team found that a part of the brain called the the ventral striatum picks up subliminal cues with no conscious effort, helping us to make better decisions.
Researchers showed volunteers masked visual cues which looked like other scrambled drawings. The volunteers could not tell these apart. When rewards were paired with the masked visual cues, the volunteers still couldn’t tell the difference. Yet their guesses now turned out to be more than chance.
“This kind of learning had been suggested to be subconscious a century ago, on the grounds that it was observed in some species like rats that were supposed to be deprived of conscious awareness. We just proved this in humans, and identified the underlying neuronal circuit,” – Dr Pessiglione.
Finally, after a hundred years, science is coming round.
Instinct vs logic
In rational thinking, we use words and images to explain our thoughts to others. But your instinct does not have to explain anything. It simply taps into a universal consciousness we all share.
Your instict can alert you to what someone else is thinking, or even what is going on somewhere else in the world. Studies of twins suggest that when one twin has an accident, the other twin can feel it halfway around the world. Science cannot explain this, but instinct can.
How to develop and trust your instinct
First, you have to accept that logical thinking is not the only, nor the best, way to think. To trust your instinct, you have to dare to let go of logical thinking now and then.
Meditation has many forms, but they all aim to release conscious thought. In meditation, you touch the soul of the universe and experience your one-ness with all things. Start with a one minute meditation and work your way up.
Write down what you feel every time you experience strong emotions. This helps you get in touch with yourself. Focus on how you’re feeling rather than the factual details. Learning to pinpoint your exact feelings will help you understand your instinctive reactions better.
3. Be patient
Intuition cannot be summoned at will, unlike logic. Just be aware of this different level of consciousness, let go of conscious thinking sometimes, and wait and see what happens.
Learn to trust your instinct, and it will serve you well.