Using and developing intuition in the decision-making process

Decisions sign in the sky[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a recent column, I mentioned that the three parts of making a decision are logic, emotions and intuition. So what did I mean by intuition? How can one use it in decision making? How does one develop intuition?

What is intuition?

You can find dictionary definitions of the term, but in my own words, I would say it is your gut feeling. It is also those moments of clarity when you don’t know why or how you know something, you just do. I think most of us have had this experience. When it happens, it’s pretty cool.

So, how do intuitive thoughts work? Scientists say it’s bringing the unconscious to a conscious level. Basically, we have all the information and either we don’t know we have the information (thus it’s in our subconscious) or we put the information together so fast into a new conclusion that it seems like the information just appeared.

Due to information seeming to appear out of nowhere, some people say that intuitive information is received psychically. In fact, some critics of psychics say they are just good at intuitive reasoning. I’m not sure figuring out the “how” is important or even helpful in developing and using your intuition. In fact, I have found the more I analyze intuitive thoughts, the less I have. It’s almost like the analysis is the opposite of my intuition and, thus, stops it.

How can one use intuition in decision-making?

The short answer is as a tool. I am not suggesting that anyone use only intuition for making a decision. I do believe, though, our gut instincts can lead us to further investigation of options.

My parents are great at this. A while ago, they were in the process of buying a house. Both my mother and father had a gut feeling about a leak in the basement. They were assured it would be fixed and it was a very simple problem. Even though their realtor later said the leak was fixed, because of their gut feeling, they made sure they checked the leak again before they closed. The leak was not corrected. The sellers said they would fix the leak after the closing. My parents then immediately backed out because of a second gut feeling that the leak was a bigger issue, the sellers would not fix it and they would be stuck with a huge bill. Thank God they did. A couple of days after my parents turned down the house, workmen were in the front yard with backhoe, tearing up the yard. My parents were finally told that the owners had to gut the entire bathroom, start from scratch and build a new one.

How did the decision-making process work for my parents? After the initial emotional response of loving the house and putting money down on it, they got a gut feeling about the leak. They then looked at all the evidence, such as the leak not being fixed, the possible issues that might be involved in the leak and made a logical decision. In this case, the gut feeling prompted them to be on the lookout for evidence, a leak that was not fixed, that the logical mind might use.

The benefits of intuitive thoughts are their speed and lack of judgment. Because of their speed, our logical mind usually doesn’t have time to stop them. This lack of judgment means that these “hits” are usually void of emotion. According to Laura Day, author of “Practical Intuition,” it is true we may have an emotional reaction to the information we receive, but at the moment an intuitive thought hits, no emotions are involved.

How does one develop intuition?

The first major task is to acknowledge intuitive thoughts when they happen. I think most people blow off their intuitive thoughts. My experience with myself, and clients, is that intuitive thoughts are very fragile. If someone does not want to see them or discredits their intuition, that part of the mind stops making itself known. On the other hand, when people acknowledge and even ask their subconscious to be more present, intuition seems to be more readily available.

Another idea is to start asking yourself what your gut feeling is about current situations or questions.

One final idea that I highly recommend is to start journaling or free-writing every day. Writing three pages of stream of consciousness seems to help us think outside the box and access our subconscious. In doing this exercise, it is very important that you don’t stop writing for the three pages. Even if you repeat yourself or make up gibberish, the idea is to get the mind going so fast that the logical mind can’t keep up. Also don’t edit. In order to edit, you need logic to tell you something is wrong. Again, the goal is to keep the logical, process-orientated mind out of this.

[pulledquote]”The only real valuable thing is intuition.” — Albert Einstein[/pulledquote]

Have a question for Bob? Email him at ?Look for answers in his “ASK THE COACH” column the first Saturday of every month.

What do you think?