Is intuition even an actual thing, or just something we use as an excuse for our hasty or poorly thought-out decisions? Some people swear it is real and have many experiences supporting their claims.

My intuition helps me recognize potentially problematic applicants during the interviews. And that’s why I’ve not had a bad employee in seven years!

As soon as I moved to that floor, I knew something was wrong. A few weeks after I moved in, there were reports of a double homicide in my neighbor’s apartment.

My grandmum was as healthy as any 76-year-old I knew. But on my last visit to her, I inexplicably felt drawn to spend more time with her than I typically would. She died in her sleep six days after.

These are just a few of the sorts of experiences that people describe when they’re speaking about intuition. But intuition isn’t a tool that’s utilized by everyday people alone. Some of the most famous industry leaders have ever lived to credit their intuition as the primary reason for their success. Examples of such people include Steve Jobs, Nicola Tesla, Oprah Winfrey, and Albert Einstein. So how do we explain these phenomena? How are people able to perceive things that are quite clearly beyond the reach of their five senses? Do we have a sixth sense? What exactly is the definition of intuition? Let us see if science has any answers to these nagging questions. 

 Giving an accurate definition of intuition is an admittedly difficult task. This is partly because research is still ongoing, and no one knows for sure. It can also be tough to distinguish between what’s true extrasensory perception, what’s professional judgment, and what’s just common sense. That’s why my simplest definition of intuition is the innate knowledge that comes to us instantly and without prior deliberation or conscious thought.

The phenomenon of intuition, also commonly referred to as “gut feelings” or “a sixth sense,” has irked humans for several millennia. In the past, when the occurrence was still shrouded in much mystery, it was widely excused as either a mark of spirituality or a gift that only certain people possess. Nowadays, science has begun to provide more definitive answers, and though there’s still ongoing research, we seem confident that our intuition comes from our minds. But how can our minds know things happening far away or will occur in the future? This is where things begin to get a bit more interesting. 

 It turns out that humans are remarkably multi-faceted beings with powerful brains and minds that can pick up information that’s sometimes beyond our conscious knowledge. Think of your mind as a supercomputer with a large bank of interconnected memories that function below your conscious will. When required, your mind can sift through a ton of information in the twinkling of an eye and make informed judgments based on its recognition of patterns. It is said that the mind utilizes a similar mechanism during highway hypnosis. In case you didn’t know what it is, highway hypnosis is a well-documented occurrence where a person safely drives a car or truck for long distances with no conscious recollection of ever doing so. In such scenarios, where do you imagine the information needed to move correctly and make proper decisions came from if they weren’t actively thinking about operating the vehicle? You guessed right – the subconscious! 

 If the line between the conscious and subconscious mind still seems murky to you, let us take a more in-depth look into what research is showing nowadays. We now know that every human has two “brains” – modern and primal brains. These two brains work together but have distinct functions. The modern brain, also known as the left brain, is responsible for higher levels of cognition – thinking aspects like logic, reasoning, memory, language, and judgment. This brain is slow, analytical, and subject to our conscious control. The primal brain, however, couldn’t be more different. It operates much quicker and is responsible for our instinct and survival. Did I also mention that its role is mainly subconscious and believed to control our intuition? 

Another critical thing to note is that the right and left brains rarely function simultaneously. When the left brain dominates, the right brain might be on a hiatus – and vice versa. Some people tend to rely on their primal brain more frequently than their modern brain, and these are those we call intuitive people. They prefer to make choices instinctively and seem to go reasonably with their guts. Contrast with logical people who rely mostly on their left brain and only feel comfortable when they’ve deeply analyzed the choices available. 

 Which is better – being intuitive or logical? You be the judge, but I’d say we all should be a healthy mix of both. I believe that we all should feel comfortable with thinking, analyzing, and weighing the pros and cons of the decisions we need to make. But what do you do when you’ve gone through heaps of information, tried to analyze it to the best of your ability, and still can’t make a decision? Then you might want to consider closing your eyes and going with your intuition… Hopefully, with practice, the wonderful gift of intuition can better your life in more diverse ways than you can imagine. As Oprah Winfrey says so poetically, “life whispers all the time.” Would you listen? 

Written by Laolu Ogundele 

1 Comment

  1. They’re both important, right? I think that’s where we’ve gone wrong is making everything so binary. We couldn’t do specific things without one or the other, but we’ve privileged being logical and analytical. I also heard our gut is another type of brain and it works together with the brain in our head, which also supports intuition.

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