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How to use your intuition

You already are intuitive

Think back to a time when you had a hunch about something. That was intuition. It is nothing more than your mind using more than what you are consciously aware of. But how do you trust your intuition? How can you improve it and use it? First, understand what it is.

Gary Kasparov can play and beat the best chess computer. How is this possible when the computer can calculate positions many moves further ahead than he can. It is because of his intuitive grasp of the game. Experience allows him to combine analysis with a "sense" of which move is best.

Intuition also works as a warning device. My wife and I both felt we shouldn't get on that bus in Cuenca, Ecuador. Psychic? Not at all. We knew crowded busses were prime locations for pickpockets. We saw the drunk man bumping into people. We didn't think about these things consciously, but they registered in our minds, and warned us. Unfortunately, we ignored our intuition, and I was robbed.

Of course, a strong hunch can be for irrelevant reasons too. If you were hit by a blue taxi as a child, you might have "intuitive" hunches not to get into blue taxis for the rest of your life. So how do you know when to trust your intuition?

Watch and question your intuition

Start by watching it and questioning it. If I had asked myself why I felt bad about that bus, it may have occurred to me, "Oh yeah, crowded busses are a bad idea. I know that." If your look at your strong feeling about that taxi, you might say, "Oh, it's just my fear of blue taxis." Get in the habit of paying attention to your intuitive feelings.

In which areas does your intuition work best? Are you always right about your intuitive stock picks? If so, give a little credence to them. If your hunches about people are always wrong, don't follow them. Just pay attention more, and you'll develop an intuition about your intuition.

Intuition doesn't arise in a vacuum

Recognise that your skill, knowledge and experience determine the potential effectiveness of your intuition. A weak chess player will never intuitively beat that computer. So learn enough about a subject, before you expect any good hunches about it - or before you trust the hunches. Remember the programmer's maxim: garbage in - garbage out. When enough information is in your mind, it will go to work for you with or without your conscious participation, so feed it well.

Watch for your intuition and you'll have hunches and ideas more often. I bought a conversion van, and now I see them all over. Have you had a similar experience? The same process will happen if you watch for your intuition - you'll start to see more of it.

Develop your intuition in three steps:

  • Look for it to encourage it.
  • Watch it to make it more trustworthy.
  • Give it good information to work with.

Do these simple things, and you'll have better intuition more often. Doesn't your intuition tell you this is true? It will.

About the author

Steve Gillman

Steve Gillman writes about brain improvement, concentration, and creative problem solving.