Has anyone ever told you to “follow your intuition” or “go with your gut” and left you wondering just what they meant? The psychologist James Hillman defines intuition as a direct sense of knowledge that can happen to a person “without any reflective thinking.” Intuition comes to us as “a sudden idea, a definite judgement, a grasped meaning.”
With intuition, we don’t have to think about something. We just know.
Yet for some people intuition can be difficult to sense. Emily Fletcher, who wrote the book Stress Less, Accomplish More, tells us that for some intuition appears only as a whisper—and can be hard to separate from our fear which often speaks to us in a louder voice. Think of the times you were inspired to take a bold action only to be overruled by your fear telling you: what are you thinking, you can’t do that! It can be hard to tell the two voices apart.
Fletcher says there’s an easy way to separate fear and intuition and it’s to remember this: Intuition moves you toward your dreams, fear moves you away. We can often come up with a great new idea or endeavor to pursue, but fear can often tell us we’re not smart/attractive/qualified enough to take the next step. Fletcher recommends meditation as a way to help steer us as it can quiet our fears and help the soft, still voice of intuition grow stronger.
Our intuition can be broken down into four categories.
This is a premise forwarded in the book Intuitively You, Evolve Your Life and Mend the World. Author Michelle Despres tells us that intuition is a way to use our core instincts to find better solutions to life’s issues. What’s surprising though are the number of ways Despres says that intuition can work for us. She breaks intuition down into four categories as follows:
- Clairvoyance. The Intuitive Act of Clear Seeing. This is “the flash in your mind’s eye,” when you have a vision of a future event that later happens. It may be an image or scene that suddenly appears in your mind, sometimes in the form of a daydream. This “intuitive prompting” can sometimes act as a warning device, foretelling events like auto accidents, or cause you to think of an old friend who suddenly calls you out of-the-blue.
- Clairaudience. The Intuitive Act of Clear Hearing. This is the ability to sense “frequency, resonances and vibrations” within you. This most commonly appears as a voice you hear that’s not coming from someone who’s physically present. You may hear a warning or receive guidance from a parent, living or deceased, as well as other authority figures, including spirit guides.
- Clairsentience. The Intuitive Act of Clear Sensing. This is feeling emotions or sensations that includes the energy of those around you. You might suddenly feel sad—because you’re standing next to someone who is feeling depressed. This can be positive or negative depending on your point-of-view, because it gives you the ability to sense and then help others in need.
- Claircognizance. The Intuitive Act of Clear Knowing. This is instantaneous knowledge that can appear as an instinct. It’s said to be the equivalent of a light-bulb turning on. You come across a problem and immediately know the solution, even though you’ve given it no real thought. Another example: you know immediately if a person you just met is genuine or dishonest.
Returning to James Hillman, writing in The Soul’s Code he also gives us a warning about intuition. Our intuitive decisions do not always “assure right action or even accurate perception.” As proof he mentions situations where our misplaced intuition can lead to falling in love with the wrong person, making a false accusation or dismissing a valid idea.
Intuition may work and work well, but always give your thinking mind a chance to counter an intuitive feeling or decision, not from a place of fear, but with sound, analytical thinking. If your intuition tells you to do something, and your brain cannot come up with a solid, rationale reason not to, go for it. Our intuition has a funny way of leading us to the best possible outcomes.