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Things we can’t describe, but we "know," come from our implicit memory. Our implicit memory ensures that “camouflaged learning” permeates out lives. Spoken language, for instance, is a confusing assortment of phonological and grammatical rules that we couldn’t possibly describe, yet we all learn to speak our native tongue. In fact, children are able to learn it without any formal instruction at all. Similarly, in learning foreign languages, it’s generally considered that “immersion” is best way to attain fluency – spending your days with native speakers and just absorbing it. Consider extent to which we intuit. In his book, "Language Instinct," Steven Pinker observes that we all ‘know’ that “thole, plast and flitch are not English words but they could be, whereas vlas, ptak, and nyip cannot be English.” Why? Well, just because, but wouldn’t you agree?
The advantages of intuition? It’s much quicker – and also surer – to use your intuition. You have a greater grasp on reality, as it were, when you don’t confuse things by bringing in neocortex. "Reason," said Pascal, “is slow and tortuous method by which those who do not know truth discover it.”
“There is guidance available to us at all times,” says Penny Peirce, “just belowI> surface of our logic, just after we stop pushing and striving, just before we jump to conclusions. By cultivating ability to pause and be comfortable with silence, and then by focusing steadily and listening for first sounds or feelings, for first impressions, you can help your intuition wake up suddenly and enthusiastically, as if from a long winter’s nap.”
How do you develop your intuition? One way is to learn to still your self-talk, what I refer to as “the Talking Head” – that constant yammering that goes on inside your head. Get centered. Quiet your thinking mind. Slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Listen. Practice.
“Although intuition is a natural resource,” says Nancy Rosanoff, an intuition trainer, “it functions best when developed and exercised. Like a muscle, intuition becomes strong, reliable, and precise when trained and put to use."
So what’s buzz about intuition? It’s coming into its own. It’s getting legitimate. Corporations are even hiring intuitionists to make decisions. I say it’s about time, because it’s a much surer way to make a decision than are logic and reason; an important decision that is. How much data would be too much to know about woman you’re going to be leaving your baby with all day? About man you’re considering marrying? At some point data ends, and you make a decision based on your feelings. Do you doubt this? Oliver Wendell Holmes, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, said that 90% of decisions at his level were emotional. He just rationalized them afterwards. As we all have done.
“In small matters, use head,” said Freud, “and in large matters, heart.” And that's intuition!
Susan Dunn is a personal and professional development coach specializing in emotional intelligence. You can visit her on the web at http://www.susandunn.cc.