Validating Intuition

by Belinda Munoz on September 14, 2011

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DATA, PROOF, REASON

Pro and con lists serve their purpose. So do statistics, bar graphs and pie charts. We make a lot of decisions based on proof, reason, or quantifiable data that increase the likelihood of a desirable outcome, whether it be better profitability, popularity, efficiency, etc.

We’re surrounded with proof of this in practical terms: the tech devices we rely on, the cars we drive (if you’re green and lean, the bike you ride), the pots and pans we make our dinners in. And in a product-centric world, if the pro and con lists and infographics fail to hook us, there’s always advertising; a whole other data-driven industry that supports all the selling and buying to which our capitalist society is committed.

In a political cycle hell-bent on projecting winners and losers through trends/ratings/rankings, it’s all about the polls.

In a litigious civilization where he-said/she-said doesn’t hold water, it’s all about proof.

In a culture where trusting the unknown is about as appealing as running naked and unarmed through an African jungle at night, it’s all about scientific findings and focus groups.

We want to see before we believe.

This is not inherently bad, though it’s troublesome if an over-dependence on data, proof and reason causes intuition to atrophy.

INTUITION

In Wiki-speak, intuition is “the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason”. Hmmmm…

How can we know something without proof or reason? And if there is a way to know without proof or reason, what do we do with this ability?

Do we validate it? Do we nurture it? Do we trust it?

Or do we ignore it?

As living beings of the highest order, we humans hold the key to greatness. We integrate our knowledge and education with experience and observations. We create and innovate amazing things. We even solve many of the problems we cause. Sill, when our current condition displeases us and we fail to look within for guidance, we demand reason from the universe and expect an explanation from the galaxy; neither is required to. In other words, we really don’t tend to validate intuition even as it manifests in our courage, creativity, collaboration, problem-solving stroke-of-genius moments. We rarely talk about it in a business setting. No venture capitalist I know would invest in the business of validating intuition.

It’s unfortunate that intuition has such wimpy sounding nicknames: little voice, hunch, gut feeling. It’s difficult to take it seriously with such junior whisper-of-a-mini-flyweight classification. Sneeze and it’s gone.

And yet.

And yet my intuition tells me not only do we have it; we have the ability to sharpen it and have a largely untapped resource in the power it holds. Yes, my intuition is a bit chatty.

Is intuition profitable? Can it solve our problems? Can we rely on it when we make decisions? Can it lead us to happiness? Can it guide us in a world of chaos and distractions? Can it equip us with that inner strength we need when things around us fall apart?

Can intuition show us the answers to these questions?

In this Shakespearean mortal coil fraught with trial and error where mistake is simply an evolving version of wisdom, wouldn’t it be worth finding out?

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This post is a reflection on a recent conversation with a mentor who has validated my intuition.

Do you listen to your intuition? Do you doubt it or do you trust it?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara September 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Belinda,

A well-timed post for me. I recently experience a crisis that both validated my intuition, even as it showed how I didn’t trust it. Two years ago, I made a decision that went against my intuition and now has come back to haunt me.

Still, it also teaches me. When I listen to my intuition, I seldom make mistakes. The key for me seems to be knowing when it’s the intuitive voice speaking. The hardest thing I experience is trying to put my intuitive thoughts into words. It isn’t to explain an intuitive feeling.

I remember once I felt something wasn’t right with my youngest daughter. She was a canoe trip with her boyfriend. I bugged her dad to call the canoe place and see if they had returned. They had not and were overdue. To make a long story short, it turned out she was in trouble. They’d had a sudden lightning storm while canoeing, but had found shelter in a home off the river. Eventually, she called us. Once again, it taught me to pay attention to that “feeling” or “little voice.”

Thanks for this post.

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2 ayala September 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Belinda,
I believe in intuition . When my son was eight, we were invited to a pool party by my cousin. I had a feeling not to go and I went against it. Someone hit my son by accident and he went under. His eyebrow line busted open and he was bleeding. He needed stitches at the hospital. We were lucky because it only takes a minute for a disaster to happen. This is one example. I try to listen to my intuition because anytime that I have not, I end realizing that I should of.

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3 Somer Wang September 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Well-timed for me as well, Belinda, as many of your posts are! Thanks for your ever-unique perspective on a rarely discussed topic!

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4 Cathy September 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

I have learned to trust my intuition when it comes to people. There have been people I’ve been introduced to that for not logical reason I just don’t like and/or trust. There have been times in the past where I’ve dismissed my intuition to not trust a person and I’ve always eventually been proven right. Now, when I have that sense, I just stay away even if there is no logical reason to do so.

I think some people are just more in tune and that’s why they have and listen to their intuition.

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5 Mama Zen September 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

When the issue is really big and important, I definitely trust my intuition.

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6 BigLittleWolf September 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

I adore this post. In an age when we worship the checklist and subject ourselves to endless streams of data, all too often we don’t listen to the little voice inside which is the ultimate arbiter of common sense.

Not wishful thinking. Common sense – developed as the result of age, experience, perspective, and a certain je ne sais quoi that many of us have and we can all learn to nurture.

For parents, it’s certainly the parental GPS. And for everyone else, I believe it is indeed that physical sensation of knowing that is better than any set of criteria, graphic, or other so-called proof.

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7 Jannie Funster September 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Well, my goodness, after I read this, I had to zip up top just to refresh my brain that yes, I WAS on Belinda’s Blog. Belinda my poet friend, who obviously has one super analytical, scientifical and philosophical mind too! (Okay scientifical’s not really a word.) 🙂 But I’m impressed at the scope of your mind.

And just for the record, I believe the best poems, ARE scientifical how we are enmeshed with them, at cellular level, as we are with music.

Yes, yes, yes I listen to my intuition. And when I don’t I end up out of harmony.

And good on your mentor validating your intuition! You are both smart.

xoxo

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8 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri September 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I definitely put credibility into that feeling called intuition. In many instances, the gut has told me what direction I should take. And I think most people know those subtle whispers exist, but because of various reasons, other people, circumstances, etc. they often choose the practical route (which may not be what their intuition dictates).

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