The response to my post intuition was overwhelmingly positive, so this week we are going to delve deeper into this mysterious world.
INSTINCT vs. INTUITION
I’ve noticed a lot of lazy thinking and misinformation when it comes to intuition.
The New Age community are particularly quick to credit intuition to explain what is often instinct.
So, let’s look at what the difference is…
My dictionary defines instinct as “a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.” So what the dictionary is implying is that instinct is both NATURAL and INNATE (a function of the intellect).
Instinct is not supernatural in any way. It’s just your unconscious mind rapidly computing millions of variables in the blink of an eye; what Malcolm Gladwell calls ‘thinking without thinking’ in his book “Blink”.
Intuition, on the other hand, could be thought of as ‘knowing without knowing’. My dictionary defines it as “the direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process.” In other words, intuition does not involve any mental process.
So, we can loosely distinguish instinct as a NATURAL process of rapid thought and intuition as a SUPERNATURAL process of knowing.
AN EXAMPLE OF INSTINCT – HOW I SURVIVED BEING MUGGED AT GUNPOINT!
In 2003, I arrived home at 1am on a dark, rainy night. As I got out of my car, two men approached me asking for a cigarette. I cheerily answered that I didn’t smoke and continued to lock my car.
Suddenly, one of the men grabbed my cell phone and before I knew it he was threatening to shoot me. Although he was not pointing an actual gun at me, he had his hand on the front of his belt and told me that he had a gun and would kill me if I tried to follow them. My attackers then turned and fled into the rainy darkness.
I STOOD IN SHOCK FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE MINUTES,
…but was probably only a few seconds. My instinct told me that my assailant was bluffing and that he did not have a gun. I had no logical evidence to support this theory, but before I knew what I was doing, I was running down a deserted street screaming for help as I chased my TWO attackers.
After a 300 meter lung-bursting sprint, I caught up to the thief who had my phone and I expertly rugby tackled him to the ground. Having never played rugby at school, I was particularly proud of myself for executing my first tackle with such style!
So there I was, lying on top of this man who had my phone, attacking my attacker. Up until this moment, my only experience of fist fighting was as a 12 year old when I got my glasses smashed in by the school bully.
I FELT A THUMP ON MY BACK…
as the second thief jumped on top of me and proceeded to grab my testicles with one hand while he attempted to choke me with the other! This was not going well…
What seemed like hours later, the guy on my back disappeared and I heard a groan underneath me. My neighbours had heard my screams for help and had come to my rescue. They kicked the crap out of my two assailants and retrieved my phone.
The thieves got away, probably more shocked by the whole experience than I was. One of the neighbours later confirmed that my attacker did not actually have a gun.
My instinct was correct.
WHY THIS WAS INSTINCT, NOT INTUITION
Initially, I attributed ‘knowing’ that my attacker was bluffing to intuition. I was stunned at what I had done and thought that my ‘knowing’ came from some sixth sense.
In retrospect, my ‘knowing’ was clearly instinct, not intuition. Here’s why…
I remember that there was something about my attacker’s voice that seemed uncertain, perhaps causing me to doubt what he was saying… something about the way his shirt hung under his hand where he was hiding his ‘gun’, did not look right… something about his posture made me think twice about believing that he actually had a gun.
In a split second, thinking without thinking, my mind computed all this information and reported to me that the odds were good that he did not have a gun. Before I knew it, I was sprinting into the darkness, chasing two ‘gunmen’.
I love this story, not only because it was a real personal victory for me (I got my phone back and ‘won’ my first street fight), but also because it so beautifully illustrates how powerful the unconscious mind actually is.
Your mind is SO powerful.
It is trained to be able to read situations, people’s faces and vocal inflections with deadly accuracy. Unfortunately, most of the time, we are too busy ‘thinking’ to hear its messages.
This is why I am so disciplined about making sure I relax every day. When I’m relaxed, the voice in my head shuts up and allows room for my unconscious mind to be heard.
I use this relaxation audio to help me relax. Check it out, it’s an awesome tool.
So, this week, see if you can become aware of the signals that your unconscious mind is always giving you. Relaxing for TEN minutes a day will really help to clear your mind and hear your inner voice.
Next time, we’ll look at intuition and how it is completely different from instinct.