In the book The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown talks about cultivating intuition and why this is important for happiness and whole-hearted living. Here’s how she defines intuition -
Intuition is a cognitive process - it is taking a situation and running through all our experiences and seeing how and where it fits.
Intuition is not a single way of knowing, it is our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insights including instinct, gut, experience, faith and reason.
Definition - When I initially tried to define intuition, the words that came to my mind are ‘instinct’ and ‘gut’ and hence I had this notion in my head that decisions based on intuition are rash and should be avoided when possible.
Letting go of the need for certainty - While it is good to fact-check all your assumptions, you’re going to make a lot of decisions in your life (even the big ones) when you don’t have all the data. Learn to get comfortable making these decisions by letting go of the need for certainty. The only way to cultivate intuition is by practicing it - start early with smaller decisions and slowly raise the stakes.
When Your Decisions Don’t Pan Out - The first thing that happens when our intuitions go wrong is that we stop trusting ourselves and what we think we know. This becomes a very dangerous proposition as this leads to one of the following two scenarios -
a. You start polling people about what you should do; you feel uneasy/queasy when you do that.
b. You back out - When faced with a big decision, your gut or instinct asks you to go for it while your distrust or fear is holding you back.
Intuition is finding that sweet spot between the above two scenarios!
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