By Laurie Nadel, Ph.D.
Laurie Nadel, Ph.D. teaches intuitive leadership and will be leading a one-day workshop at the Open Center on November 16. Visit her class page for me.
Intuition, also known as your sixth sense, is the ability to know something spontaneously without the use of reason. You do not have to believe in anything for it to function. Like gravity, your intuition works just fine whether you believe it or not. And you can strengthen your intuitive intelligence in much the same way as you can learn a new language, improve your golf swing, or play a new instrument. Strengthening your intuition will help you to think smarter, not harder.
Dr. Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychoanalysis, described intuition as the ability to anticipate change and to see possibilities inherent in a situation. It is the magic ingredient in new ideas and inventions.
Intuition and creativity are part of our biological make-up going back thousands of years. Archeologists have uncovered findings that prove our caveman ancestors possessed these abilities to “know something spontaneously, without the conscious use of reasoning.” The evidence shows that although they did not possess language skills and were primarily concerned with survival, primitive humans intuitively designed rituals to access deeper knowing.
If you need to be able to think quickly in a variety of situations, overcome creative blocks and find innovative solutions, here are six paths to strengthening your sixth sense.
1. Go with the flow. Pay attention to ideas, insights, and impressions that seem to come out of nowhere. They are not “just imagination.” Data can take many forms. Your brain is capable of receiving information in the form of feelings, sensations, taste, sight, smell, and sound. It synthesizes the data into a quick impression, often called a gut feeling or hunch. Too often we avoid listening to this inner source of information because we believe it is more efficient to be rational.
Respect those hunches. For example, your brain may say that it is time to return an important phone call or time to get off the phone. Or you may have a feeling of urgency about delivering a message in person instead of sending a text. Successful people from all walks of life report that paying attention and respecting their hunches dramatically improves their sense of timing and consequently, success in their life.
2. Follow that gut feeling. When a gut feeling or hunch presents itself, the most important step is to act on it as soon as possible. Write your gut feeling someplace immediately so that you can refer back to it later. Then make a choice: Act on it or ignore it. Observe the result and keep a record so that you can build your personal intuitive database for future reference.
3. Take time out when working on a complex problem. In order to make maximum use of your brain’s ability to solve problems intuitively, take a break. Do not try to solve it using logic. Do something else. Take a walk. Listen to music. Shower. Relax. This allows your intuitive intelligence to absorb, synthesize, and integrate the elements of the problem so that a solution seems to pop into your head without any conscious effort on your part. The more you let go and allow this organic process to work for you, the stronger it gets.
4. Ask your sixth sense for help. This one of the most important rules. It may seem strange but it is possible to speak to the part of your Unconscious mind that knows how to receive and synthesize information at high speed. The easiest way to do this is to take a few moments to breathe deeply with eyes closed. When feeling relaxed, all that is needed is to ask your intuitive mind for help when solving the problem. Strange but true: Your inner knowing will always come through for you if you invite it to help.
5. Look for the big picture. Instead of getting buried in details, take a deep breath and shift your focus to a different task. At the same time, ask your intuitive mind to show you the big picture. For example, if you are working on an Excel spreadsheet and something does not look right, ask your intuitive mind to show you what is missing. You will be amazed when the missing piece of information pops into your mind all of a sudden, effortlessly. Just ask. Your intuitive voice speaks gently. Do not forget to listen to the subtle answers and write them down.
6. Trust what comes to you. One of the Fathers of Reason, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal said, “There are two excesses: to exclude reason, and to admit only reason.” Your sixth sense will come to you as an image or dream, an inner voice, or a feeling in your body. Everyone’s intuitive signal is unique. As you learn to see, hear, and feel your intuitive intelligence, you will get better at seeing around the corner so that you can think ahead of the curve. With practice, you can become a master of your mind.