In this article, I’ll look at the dangers of placing too much importance on our ‘sixth sense’ or ‘third eye.’ I’ll also give you plenty of reasons to see how that ‘funny feeling’ you have isn’t always your ally.
Your intuition can sometimes be a power drill that cuts through tough decisions like butter, but it isn’t infallible. Indeed, it frequently leads you to some pretty shitty conclusions.
Sometimes, it acts like that chauvinist uncle at a family event – quick to judge others but slow to correct himself. Other times, more like a benevolent aunt who quietly shoves twenty quid into your pocket because she feels sorry you’re still single.
What Is Intuition?
In Part One of this series on intuition, I mentioned the two modules of thinking that everyone subconsciously uses to process information. Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, describes them as System 1 (intuition) and System 2 (reasoning). The first is automatic, subconscious, and fast. The second is deliberate, conscious, and slow.
For those who’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, this may sound familiar. If you’re on the intuitive side (System 1) of the spectrum, you’ll mostly look for meaning and patterns. But if you have a preference for sensing (System 2), you’ll pay more attention to what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
Intuition happens when our brain reaches a conclusion without using conscious thinking. That conclusion usually hits us in the form of an emotion or a physical feeling – often in the gut area.
Think of our brain as a powerful prediction machine. It always has a few tabs running in the background, helping us figure out which bits of information are essential, and which ones can be ignored. Each time new data comes in, the hippocampus – the brain’s librarian – will scan its bank of memories to see if it looks like anything we’ve experienced before. If so, it’ll create a match. You’ll get a signal that all is well in the world, and your conscious mind can continue to focus on more important things.