We’ve all heard about the benefits of following our intuition. There’s the “perfect job” we decide not to take because of a bad “gut feeling”, and later discover we indeed would have been miserable.
There is the relationship we decide to pursue despite that person not being our “type” , and come to discover that they are perfect for us.
Many people have trouble, however, distinguishing their intuition from their own inner fears, wishful thinking and imagination. If this describes you, you’re probably asking: How do you know if your intuition is right?
The problem here is in the way the question is phrased. A better question to ask is: How do you know when your intuition is leading you astray?
Think about the distinction for a moment.
Intuition is about knowing and feeling within the present, but with an eye on what’s best for you in reality. So, the first step is to identify what you’re feeling, and second is to ask whether that feeling is compelling you to do something ration or irrational.
For instance, let’s say you just have a strong ‘gut feeling’ that you should drain your bank account to play the lottery tonight. Is that really your intuition speaking? More than likely not.
The questions you’d want to ask when you get a feeling like this are as follows:
- Am I feeling like doing something that belies reason?
- Is the action I feel like taking even plausible or within my control?
- Is what I feel drawn to within my moral and ethical code?
- Is it responding to a situation at hand? In other words, does the
feeling directly impact something you’re dealing with in the moment?
- Do I feel sincerely drawn towards (or repulsed by) something my intuition is telling me to do?
If you get a strong sense that you need to call up a long lost friend, for example, you are likely correct in following that hunch. It meets all of the above criteria in that it is something actionable in the present, sincere and reasonable.
Spending all of your money on the lottery, however, would not meet most of the above criteria, no matter how strongly you feel about your chances of winning. It is not realistic because the odds truly are stacked against you. Taking the action could potentially devastate you financially, and this is not something that true intuition would try to lead you towards.
The next time you’re evaluating a hunch, keep that checklist in mind. The answers you give to those questions will ultimately help you determine whether your intuition is right.