When Should You Trust Your Intuition

October 29, 2018

Your gut feelings can be misleading sometimes. To solve this puzzle of whether we should listen tentatively or try to ignore our inner voice just to be on the safe side, the author of The search for Fulfillment gives us some useful tips.


The psychological study of intuition may be traced back to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who proposed the intuition dimension to personality. According to the Jungian sense of personality, highly intuitive people are more likely to let their own thoughts dominate their experience and tend to take a “top-down” approach to life (letting their own thoughts and feelings take command) and would be more prone to making “intuition errors”.





There has been more and more interests in intuition in moral judgments and the relationship between intuition and free will. While Jungian meaning of intuitive judgment is more about making judgments on the basis of what you’re thinking or feeling, many positive psychologists explore whether there are advantages to trusting personal intuition by tapping into your own inner experience.


However, the two approaches are not necessarily against each other when Jungian definition is broadened. Being a strong believer in ‘balance’ - the ability to counter human ‘yins’ with ‘yangs’ – Jung thinks rather than relying completely on your intuition, you should open your mind to both your thoughts and feelings, and at the same time take all the data gain by your senses into account. The next step would be to balance those against each other as sometimes gut feelings might be triggered by something misleading in a tricky situation.





In a study intended to demonstrate the connection between intuition and mindfulness, University of Hildesheim psychologist Carina Remmers and colleagues (2015), The researchers noted that intuition can be beneficial, “especially in situational contexts in which a person is under stress, time pressure, and when facing complex problems” because “intuitive processes often lead to judgments with higher diagnostic value for the to-be judged criterion than rational-analytic processes of reasoning” (p. 283). In other words, trust your gut when you don’t have much time to think through all the implications of what’s happening around you. Plus, according to Remmers at al., you should also trust your gut when you’ve had a great deal of experience in making a certain judgment.


How would mindfulness play into this process? The theory guiding the Remmers et al. study was that by tapping into your inner experience, you become more open to those all-important intuitive processes which manipulated negative mood-set. Theoretically, when you’re in a positive mood, the window to your inner experiences opens up, but when you’re in a negative mood, you put your mind to work trying to understand why you feel so bad. This process of rumination increasingly distances you from your gut judgments. 


However, the following study involving the mindfulness-induction condition showed that the mindfulness induction didn’t enhance the intuition index of participants. The possibility is that the study showed just how difficult it is to tap into our intuition. Perhaps after so many years of being told that we need to focus on rational judgments, not our inner feelings, we’ve stopped trusting our gut completely. 


Therefore in order to truly understand your intuition, you really need to take time to learn and train.


source: PsychologyToday

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