Our culture was built upon the faculty of logic; and it has taught us to trust logic more than any other mental process. In our modern society, a conclusion that is arrived upon by any means other than deductive reasoning is typically distrusted. The scientific method tells us that we live in a world of facts; and in an indirect way, this belief banished our less tangible feelings and perceptions to the realm of superstition. The irony is that many scientific insights and innovations came about not by deductive reasoning but rather by intuition.
Our intuition is in many respects a quicker and more direct route to knowledge and understanding than any other kind of thought process. Because we can’t trace its steps, however, we can be prone to question or disregard information that we receive in this way. An intuitive leap covers a lot of invisible ground. It doesn’t show its work like we were taught to do in school. It can jump right from point A to point K without explanation. We just “know”, all of a sudden; or we have a strong hunch. Or perhaps the voice of intuition is so quiet (or our other mental chatter is so loud) that we don’t even hear it at first. Later, however, when something unexpected happens we may be left with the uncanny impression that we somehow “saw it coming”.
Such moments can become clearer and more frequent if we learn to trust our intuition and give it our active attention. This is largely a matter of practice and intent. We have to grow accustomed to listening to – and respecting – our first thoughts and impressions rather than analyzing them or rejecting them outright. Feeling can be even more crucial than thinking for this sort of exploration. Sometimes intuition speaks to us without words. It is a preverbal sensation: We just have “the strangest feeling” that such-and-such is true. When we get into the habit of sitting with such sensations and tuning in to what they have to tell us then they become easier to trust.
Sometimes intuition manifests in a more visceral way: As a call to action. We feel a powerful impulse to try a new activity, explore other career options or call someone whom we haven’t spoken to in a long time. Such instinctive urges can really be messages from our deeper selves. We are being prompted to explore new areas that could expand our lives in some way; but at the onset, we cannot know exactly how. This is another area in which intuition moves much faster than logic. If we act on these new and unfamiliar impulses and see where they lead us we will probably have an easier time trusting such intuitive prompts the next time.
Like other mental functions – and similar to our physical bodies, for that matter – the voice of our intuition grows stronger within us when we use it and give it our attention. It can be exercised like a muscle. In this case, however, the “exercise” is a continual practice of giving it the benefit of the doubt – of listening to it even when it seems to defy logic.