Max Your Intuition

So you don’t ‘see dead people’, but that doesn’t mean your sixth sense is on the blink. Here’s how to hone your instincts.

Before you dismiss intuition as hyped-up hippie nonsense, ask yourself if you’ve ever had a brush with your own innate instinctual ability. For example, have you ever ‘sensed’ when the phone was about to ring, or known who was going to be on the other end? Or have you ever gotten strong positive or dodgy ‘vibes’ when meeting a person, before they even said a word? See, you have come face to face with your intuition – you just didn’t know what it was. It’s important not to stifle these small flashes of insight – too often we swallow our intuitive feelings because we haven’t used balanced and logical reasoning to back them up. Call it what you like – intuition, a gut feeling or a hunch – these are all words we use to attempt to explain unprompted feelings we get in certain situations. Here’s how to tune into it… and max its potential.

Er, no. ‘Intuition is the upgrade of instinct,’ says intuitive teacher Colleen-Joy Page. ‘We all have it. Some of us are simply more skilled at putting it to use. Intuition is about learning to access the centre of your mind.’ Something like being a good judge of character has everything to do with intuition.

‘Intuition is the ability to understand your feelings via mental frameworks. It’s like an imaginary mental “hand” that helps you feel your way around life,’ says Kendall Whalley, an intuitive trainer and personality expert.

We’ve all got ‘inner chatter’ going on in our heads, but when you assess the quality of the info, you’ll realise it’s mostly shallow and ego driven. ‘Often our minds are so cluttered, we cannot hear the inner voice trying to give us messages about what we need to do,’ says feng shui and numerology expert Chris Brazel. ‘We’re too busy, full of fear about the future, full of regrets about the past or just full of emotions about the present.’

Flashes of real intuition can take a number of forms and differs among people – but you’ll know it when you experience it because it ‘feels’ different from the drivel; more authentic. It can be a picture, a word or a ‘voice’ that tells you what to do, or a feeling. Ask women if they’ve ever used ‘women’s intuition’ and 90% will nod enthusiastically. The reason? Women find it easier to access intuition. Men, on the other hand, are conditioned to rely on logical, analytical, more linear ways of thinking.

‘Logical thought will argue with you; intuitive thought won’t,’ Page says. ‘A logical sequence is a series of steps to get to an answer (for example, one plus one equals two). With intuitive knowing, you’ll glance at a list of numbers and the answer ‘two’ will pop into your head before you’ve even reached for the calculator. There’s no step-by-step assessment.’

We’ve all heard the one about the fireman who makes it out of a building just before it collapses. Or the mum who suddenly gets the urge to look for her kid and finds he’s fallen in the pool. That’s classic intuition and, in worst-case scenarios, it can be a life-saver. But you don’t have to be in a desperate situation for it to kick in.

‘Intuition is a natural response, which we refer to as the fight-or-flight response,’ says clinical psychologist Natasha Naggan. ‘It ensures we survive a situation, no matter what it is – from one that’s life-threatening to something more simple, like dealing with a moody boss.’

‘People access their intuition at different times – whether they’re under extreme pressure or chilled during a meditation session – it just depends on the person,’ Whalley says. ‘You can make your intuition work for you by learning to paralyse the part of the mind that makes you second-guess everything. To do this, some people need to be under extreme pressure, when the logical mind can’t find answers.’

Page agrees: ‘You don’t need to do anything special for your intuition to kick in – no fancy rituals, sitting poses or incense. Some people can have their most powerful intuitive moments in the shower or when driving to work.’ Accessing your intuition is easier when your brain is in ‘neutral’ or when its conscious side is concentrating on other things.

The line between being intuitive and just plain paranoid is thin. Intuition is a basic survival tactic that’s programmed into everyone. But when any form of fear comes into the equation, your intuition is not as reliable as it should be.

‘Paranoia is not intuition,’ Whalley says. ‘It comes about when people enslave their minds to flights of fancy. Intuition is an observer that is without feeling. The moment an emotion such as fear comes into it, the information you get back is not intuitive.’

But a number of people don’t trust their instinct enough, and they mistakenly dismiss their intuitive thoughts as paranoia or wishful thinking. ‘Intuition is different from wishful thinking, as it’s not about hoping for something to happen,’ Naggan says. ‘Paranoia is linked to feelings and involves a state of permanent questioning, but intuition is there to help you with the answers, not the questions.’

Whalley agrees: ‘Wishful thinking comes from a place of insecurity, which means you can kiss your intuition goodbye,’ he says. ‘You’ve got to bag up all the insecurity garbage to get to pure intuitive power.’

Spot-on intuition comes with practise, and you can apply simple intuitive questioning to any situation. It’s like peeling off the layers of an onion – keep questioning until you reach the core.

1. Make snap judgments with your friends
The next time you’re hanging out with a friend, test each other’s intuition for fun. Ask her to give you the names and ages of three people she’s met this week. Then you give her your impression of these people based on everything that comes to mind. She can tell you how right or wrong you are.

2. Jump to conclusions when meeting people
Whenever you greet people, instead of saying, ‘How are you?’ try telling them how you think they feel. By trusting your intuition and picking up on their subtle cues, you can look at the world from their perspective.

3. Get ahead of yourself with a new guy
When you first meet a guy, try to get a sense of who he is before you make an emotional connection. The initial feeling you get can become a blueprint for your future relationship. Ask your intuition how and when the first challenges will arise – for example, when you’re likely to have your first fight. Then try to feel out how you will handle this together.

4. Put it to work
Write a logical, factual to-do list of goals you must accomplish at work. If you’re in sales, for example, it can be a list of clients you need to see in order to reach your target. Then create another list – an ‘intuition list’ – where you write down which clients you feel will be more receptive to your ideas (the ones you have a good feeling about). That way you won’t waste your time seeing people you intuitively know won’t be keen. In time you’ll find that your intuitive list works better than the logical one.

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