What Is Your Intuition and Why Do You Need It?

Wooden signpost with the words 'Trust your gut' painted on it.

As opposed to rational decision-making, intuitive decision-making is more fluid and not structured. (Image: John Anders Wiken via Dreamstime)

In life, people have to analyze a lot of things and make a number of decisions. However, the truth is, you can’t always get enough information to logically analyze the authenticity or reliability of the things and people around you. How do you make decisions or come to a conclusion on various subjects without credible evidence or knowledge? The answer is by using your gut feeling or intuition. It is very hard to define what this actually is. It is like a voice that speaks at the back of your mind when you are uncertain about certain things, developments, or people. 

While people do rely on intuition to make small to big decisions in life, skeptics and those relying largely on logic and reason question its reliability. It is what many people dub the “sixth sense.” This feeling offers you the idea you need at a specific moment. As opposed to rational decision-making, intuitive decision-making is more fluid and not structured. Intuition considers the overall picture and does not rely much on analytics and logic. This is a reason why people relying on it to make decisions fail to explain what exactly made them make certain decisions. 

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Psychology experts have tried to fathom the nuances of intuition and how it works. The human brain can be divided into two parts — the subconscious and the conscious mind. Firstly, we have little control. A lot of information processing is done by the subconscious mind. Intuitive thinking is a product of the subconscious mind. The subconscious part of the human mind draws information from myriads of experiences gathered from the early years of life. It also draws on memory and associated learning information. It finds patterns from the overall information and uses those to offer cues about a specific development. 

Psychology experts have tried to fathom the nuances of intuition and how it works.
Psychology experts have tried to fathom the nuances of intuition and how it works. (Image: Rolffimages via Dreamstime)

This sudden burst of energy, triggered by the subconscious mind does not work in the same way in each person. Some people possess a better sense of intuition than others. There are people who feel it kicking in from time to time. 

There are some factors that affect the development and functioning of intuition in humans. These are:

  • Experience
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Networks
  • Risk Tolerance
  • Limits

Intuition can be useful, but don’t rely on it blindly

Using intuition to make a decision can be useful in life, but you should not rely blindly on it. It is okay not to rely exclusively on a rational decision-making process at all times. People do make decisions based on tacit knowledge, heuristics, and intuition. Using it can be fruitful in situations when you need to make decisions without delay. Besides, making decisions based on gut instinct becomes a necessity in life at times. What do you do when there is a medical emergency at home and no doctor can be contacted? You would use your intuition to salvage the situation. The same can be said about cops rescuing disabled and injured persons in the wee hours. 

A head-shaped chalkboard with arrows drawn pointing to the outside of the head and sitting on a wooden surface next to a piece of white chalk.
Using intuition can be fruitful in situations when you need to make decisions without delay. (Image: Designer491 via Dreamstime)

On finer analysis, it can be said intuition does not run without relying on data. Your subconscious mind stores and processes myriads of experiences and uses the insights gained from that vast data to trigger ideas. It starts developing from your birth and it grows over the years. So it would not be wrong to say intuition relies on data. The only difference is you don’t feel that data is being analyzed in a logical manner. As the subconscious mind uses a wider data pool, it may prove to be more reliable than the regular rational decision-making model sometimes.

Scientists and researchers acknowledge the significance of intuition. This is the reason why the ace machine learning experts and data scientists blend data science and intuition for their work. Even the armed forces rely on it and its power to an extent. Several inventions and discoveries that benefited mankind took place because some researchers and scientists relied on their gut feeling. 

So would you rely completely on intuition for making key decisions when time is limited? Psychologists think going overboard is not ideal. You should use a balanced mix of intuition and rational analysis to make decisions in life. 

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