The most dangerous mistake in tapping your intuition

I do my best; I truly do, to look for the best in everybody. I try to see them all as unique individuals to be respected, if not liked.

But there’s one woman that sticks out in my mind – I instinctively disliked her even though she did everything right. We were in a business setting, and she seemed to have read every book on management and human interaction ever written – she used all the techniques to perfection. She smiled; she looked me in the eye; she seemed to be interested in me as a person; she touched my elbow warmly as we talked.

Still, I chose not to work with her any further. Turns out I was right. Soon afterwards I met many people who had worked with her and they confirmed she was a real backstabber.

So: What was it about her? Or rather, what directed me to stop working with her?

You guessed it: Intuition. You probably have had a similar experience. A purchase that looked great on paper, but you felt bad about buying. Or perhaps there was a flight you decided not to take, and later found out crashed and killed everyone on board.

This article is on how to develop your intuition, and the most dangerous mistake everyone makes in doing so. You can read in itself, although it is part 3 of the series on egoless functioning. Part 1 and Part 2.

What Intuition is

Beneath your logical, analytical mind lies your intuition. Psychologists define it simply as directly seeing or experiencing something without any reasoning In essence, our “gut” feeling – pure, untaught, knowledge. Some metaphysical texts say it is the voice of your inner guide, covered by your ego, fears and mental static. Two different ways of saying one thing, so let’s just go into how we can use it.

In the previous post we discussed how we can tap into creativity by stilling our logical mind. We’ve mostly applied it to working, creating, or performing a skill – physical or mental. But doesn’t it make sense that we can expand it to everything in your life? Remove all mental static from your life and let the faculty that brings you creative imagination bring you intuitive knowledge in all other areas of your life.

“Who do I make friends with? Which stock do I invest in? Do I take the train or the bus? Do I stay home or go out? Do I accept or reject this job offer?”

People who support intuition give the popular example of the aeroplane that crashes and the people who avoided it by trusting their gut. Intellectuals who oppose intuition, on the other hand, give examples of people who got hurt. A man felt a hitchhiker was trustworthy, perhaps, and got robbed after taking him on his car.

To many conventional psychologists, this battle is between the left and right brain. Intuition is associated with your right brain; logical thinking with your left.

The debate seems to have ended, though. The winner? Listen to both. Consider your gut feelings and take the time to think logically about the situation.

End of the article? Nope.

Your inner guide

I agree that one should listen to both, but only to a certain point. You should develop your intuition but when most people followed their feelings and got hurt, they stop listening to their gut.

The mistake they make is confusing other types of feelings with intuition. This is perfectly understandable Intuition comes in the form of inspirations, hunches, and feelings. But there are two other types of inspirations and feelings. I shall call them synthetic and natural, and they often drown out the small voice of your intuition. I dare say that most people who follow their feelings and got hurt actually mistook these feelings for their intuition.

So until youve truly learnt to listen to your intuition, use both logical and intuitive minds. And if you have to ask if you have mastered it, then no, you haven’t.

If you have been following the egoless series, it should be obvious by now that synthetic and natural feelings come from the ego. Bypassing the ego allows you to shut down these feelings to get to quiet voice of your intuition.

The monk goes shopping

An example might help explain better. I recently made a large series of expensive purchases over half a year. I was redecorating my room with new sound systems, TVs, beds, paintings, computers; the lot. I was learning to distinguish between the different feelings and decided to apply it. It was a brilliant learning experience.

When I saw something I wanted, I considered it in my head. But instead of weighing things up logically, I watched for any feelings. Sounds just like the process for tapping into your creative imagination, doesn’t it? A feeling of calm or quiet joy meant that I went ahead with it. I was always right with these. They worked wonderfully, or perhaps I got unexpected discounts and bonuses.

Sometimes I got a bad feeling. It might be different for you; mine felt like a certain tightness in the chest or a sense of “nah, not this time”. Most of these times, I didn’t go ahead. But there were times I ignored these feelings. Why? I felt other types alongside the Synthetic and the Natural.

Synthetic feelings

Lets discuss Synthetic feelings first. They initially felt the same as intuitive feelings, but after a while I could feel the difference. Sometimes, though, I chose to ignore my intuition and follow my synthetic feelings. And, yes, the transactions were lousy, which only gave me more confidence in my intuition.

But what are synthetic feelings? They refer to feelings that others instil. A salesman appealed to my pride once, when I was hemming and hawing over an item. “Sure, if you can’t afford this model, you can get the cheaper one.” My ego took over and I bought the most expensive model. Obviously, I regretted it later. Most salespeople are well trained in body language and other social techniques that influence you and produce synthetic feelings inside you without you even knowing.

Natural feelings

The other type you can have are natural feelings, although the name can be something of a misnomer. This is because they might also come from your life experience and not just from natural sources.

Let’s say you feel uneasy when you walk into a dark alleyway. Maybe all humans are scared of dark alleyways, or maybe you were robbed before. How about the uneasiness you feel when you spent your life’s savings on an investment? Maybe it’s natural for everyone to feel that way after spending that much money or maybe you’ve made some bad choices before. It doesn’t matter for our purposes.

I experienced natural feelings during my shopping spree as well. An exceptionally pretty salesgirl comes to mind. She triggered my natural feelings of male lust simply by being gorgeous, although she created some synthetic feelings as well by flirting and strategically exposing some skin.

Your baseline and distinguishing between these feelings

How do we distinguish between all these feelings? It’s a skill developed with experience and time. You have to watch yourself in normal situations and discover your “baseline”.

Let’s say you are preparing to go out on a date. It might be normal for you to feel a bit nervous before any date. However, in one particular case, you might feel more nervous than usual, or maybe a different sense of uneasiness. Check to see if there wasn’t any synthetic causes to this (maybe you saw a piece on date rape on the evening news). If there isn’t, then that is your intuition.

Until you have developed this intuition, and perhaps even then, I recommend going with the conventional wisdom of listening to both logic and intuition, right and left brain.

Practice intuition on smaller events where mistakes won’t kill you. “Is it faster to take the train? Should I go to this party? Who should I sit next to in this room?” Consider each choice and feel for any sensations as you do, taking note of anything that is beyond your baselines.

If you are raising your consciousness, some texts say also say that intuitive action also comes at a certain level of consciousness. Everything you do will come naturally from this inner guide, and move you towards your highest good. I don’t know about this yet though, check back in a year or so.