What is intuition?

Western culture has taught us to rationalize our decisions. But what about that instinctive feeling, that gut feeling that we can experience when something just doesn’t feel right, or it absolutely does. That sensation of knowing why, but not yet understanding it.

A beautiful thing about humans being so unique, is that it provides unique viewpoints. We could look at intuition as:

  • Making sense of our instincts
  • Our unconsciousness
  • Our soul communicating with us
  • God sending us a message
  • The Universe showing us what to do
  • Omens

Have you ever thought about what ‘intuition’ is? How do you listen to it? And are emotions that same thing? Or your thoughts maybe? Do you think that intuition is the action of making sense out of our instincts?

First comes intuition and then comes the wanting part
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between wanting (or not wanting) something to happen, and having an intuitive feeling that we should do it. I believe these to be different concepts. To want something it requires us to be consciously aware of it. We are able to formulate with reason and/or emotions arguments for us to have it. To let our intuition guide us towards something is different, because we are not able to formulate arguments with reason/emotion for us to explain it. We somehow just know ‘intuitively’ that it is what we should be doing.

The problem arises when we mix the two concepts. Because what we want is not always right for us. We can want to eat junk food, this does not mean that our intuition is telling us to do so. If we are able to reason good and valid arguments to eat junk food, maybe you are having a cheat day or you want to go out and socialize with friends, it is still not our intuition guiding us. When we use intuition in this way, we create an argument for our behaviour. Hence, the thoughts and emotions come first and afterwards we state that it is our intuition.

‘Intuition is a sense of knowing how to act spontaneously, without needing to know why’
– Sylvia Clare

I believe that our intuition comes first and the meaning of it comes later. Whether we give it a meaning or we gain an understanding. Therefore, in my opinion, we can’t ‘want’ something and call it intuition. But the two concepts do relate with one and other, because it is possible to let your intuition guide us towards a direction and then argue that we want to get there.

Intuition vs. emotions, rationale, and instincts
To get a better understanding of our intuition, we can distinguish it from emotions, rationale and instincts.

Emotions are biological states that are associated with thoughts, feelings, and behavioural responses. Emotions are generated in our bodies and each of them produce different reactions and show different expressions. Emotions are communicative methods that our bodies make use of to let us know what we feel and sense around and inside us.

Our rationale is our logical base. These are the reasons we give to the things we experience in life. It is the realm of thought which we can use to create theories and methods to get a better understanding of our experiences and life in general.

‘Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition’
– Madeleine L’Engle

An instinct is behaviour that does not rely upon previous experience. We do not need to learn how to behave instinctively because we are born with it. The behaviour can be adjusted with experience, but we do not learn the behaviour through life. For example, six month year old babies can be afraid of spiders and snakes without ever having experienced them before. The way they learn to cope with that instinct can be different.  

All three concepts are different, but they are similar in the fact that the actions, either feelings, thoughts and behaviour, rise up in our bodies.

Now a definition that I came across and I can resonate with is this: Intuition can be defined as understanding or knowing without conscious recourse to thought, observation or reason. It is understood as to be the subliminal processing of information that is too complex for rational thought.

‘Intuition is the highest form of intelligence, transcending all individual abilities and skills’
– Sylvia Clare

Somehow we are able to understand what we should or shouldn’t do without using these three concepts described above. Some might call this a message from God. Another might say it is our spirit/soul that understands what is truly good for us. It can also be that intuition lays within us, in our subconscious mind and we are not able yet to understand it. To make it conscious, hence that could be why we can differentiate it from emotions, rationale, and instincts.

If intuition is different from our emotions, feelings, sensations and thoughts, I don’t think we should the word ‘feel’ to describe how we process intuition. Maybe we shouldn’t have a word to describe intuition because it is something else, something beyond our emotions, sensations and realizations. It is a concept that we aren’t able to put into words. A meaning, form of communicating with the soul, with God, the universe, our unconsciousness, that is difficult to translate into this material world.

If you have experienced this text to be helpful and insightful, please share it with others. Let us spread love and awareness together. Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below or send me an e-mail. I encourage you to share your experience or thoughts!

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