Intuition: what is it?
What are we actually talking about?
Let’s start from the word “intuitive”. We use this word to mean:
- the quality of being easy-to-use: the intuitive interface of a new gadget.
- the automatic response of a highly skilled person to a situation: a top-level tennis player can be said to position her shots “intuitively”.
- pertaining to the intuition – which itself needs definition! Having an intuitive hunch, or an intuition, about something.
Let’s focus on the last two.
Intuition is the faculty that accesses information just below the surface. Information that’s not necessarily conscious. Information that’s in the subconscious, or the unconscious. Even information that’s in the ether.
Taking the tennis player first: she can hit her shots intuitively in that she’s trained so well that her tennis-playing information – not conscious. She’s reached that level of learning known as “unconscious competence” (the other 3 being: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, and conscious competence).
Going one step further, the intuition draws out information for us from sources we”re not aware of. Some people (wish I had a reference for this, but I don’t – yet) suggest that the intuition is actually very fast processing of important information. They say, for example, that there was a case of a racing car driver who didn’t know why, but knew very strongly that he should ease off going around a particular corner. He did – and avoided piling into a crash that had already happened. Footage of the race shows that the crowd on that corner looked different before and after the crash. The theory runs that the driver saw (or more precisely, perceived) this difference in the crowd and – without being conscious of knowing that he saw the difference – he knew that something was different and he should slow down.
I agree that this may explain it – and there’s more to it too!
Imagine what you might not consciously be noticing. Imagine that your perceptions are still being registered in your mind. Now imagine that your mind wants to tell you something based on these perceptions that *it* has noticed but you – conscious you – haven’t.
Your mind tries to get your attention somehow. It gives you a nudge, a hunch, an idea, an image. It starts talking to you.
All of this we could call intuition: having a feeling that there’s something else to know, or do, or say, that you”re not quite sure of where it comes from.
Let’s take it one step further: imagine that as well as your regular senses, perceiving sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and feelings, you also have spidey senses, senses that can perceive subtler things, energies, auras, fields. You might ignore all your spidey senses; a lot of people do. Or you notice them and brush them off. Or maybe you pay them attention. Maybe they scare you, intrigue you, or make you feel uneasy.
Regardless of what the conscious you does with spidey-sense perceptions, the bigger you underneath is registering all of these inputs.
A lot of the inputs can just slide by without needing attention. But some of your spidey-sense perceptions are important and THESE are the ones that come to your attention as hunches, gut feelings, or “knowing”.
This might be another explanation of what the racing driver experienced: His spidey senses KNEW that there was danger around the bend, and told him about it, and he slowed down. And his spidey senses knew because they were picking up data from outside his physical body.
This is Intuition. This is the woo-woo sense of intuition. Spidey-sense perceptions + becoming conscious of them.
This is the intuition you can develop – consciously and deliberately – to build better alignment with who you really are, and to do what you really want to do.
How does your intuition communicate with you?
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Sue Mahony PhD is gifted, autistic, and ADHD. She provides 1:1 specialist support for brains similar to her own, neurodiversity training, mentoring & coaching for organisations, and a wealth of articles on this website.
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