Your intuition can be an idea or a strong feeling that something is true although you cannot explain why it is so. It can be an immediate apprehension by the mind or by a sense without reasoning. For example, you can say at any moment that you have an intuition that something awful is about to happen.
What do we mean by intuition in the context of decision-making? While different definitions emphasize different aspects, there are three key features that characterize the intuitive mode of thinking.
1. The process is dominated by your subconscious mind, even if you use your conscious mind to formulate or rationalize the final results.
2. The information is processed in parallel rather than sequentially. Instead of going through a logical sequence of thoughts one by one, you see the situation more as a whole, with different fragments emerging in parallel.
3. You are more connected with your emotions. For example, it may occur to you that an option you consider does not feel right, even though there is no clear logic to prove that.
As our life becomes more dynamic and less structured, intuition gains more and more recognition as an essential decision making tool. You have probably heard of experienced decision makers who are able to directly recognize the best option or course of action in many tricky situations. The solution just comes to them from somewhere in their subconscious mind, instead of being a result a lengthy chain of logical derivations or a computer output from a complicated simulation.
Why are your intuitions important?
Intuition can make you a much more effective decision maker, especially when you deal with non-standard situations or in expedient decision making. Yet, before you put more weight on intuitive choices, there are a few important points you need to keep in mind. You need intuition in decision making situations where intuitive approach can help most when
• Expedient decision making and rapid response are required. The circumstances leave you no time to go through complete rational analysis.
• Fast paced change. The factors on which you base your analysis change rapidly.
• The problem is not well defined but poorly structured. But that is affecting your productivity.
• The factors and rules that you need to take into account are hard to articulate in an unambiguous way.
• You have to deal with ambiguous, incomplete, or conflicting information.
• There is no precedent.
Intuitions versus Rational Analysis
The main alternative to the intuition-based approach is rational thinking. The rational decision making process relies mostly on logic and quantitative analysis. You consciously analyze all the options. You formulate the main criteria for judging the expected outcomes of your options and you assign certain weights to those criteria to reflect their relative importance. Then, based on the expected outcomes and their weights, you rate your options by their perceived utility. Finally, you choose the option that has the highest rating.
If, for some options, the expected outcomes involve uncertainty, you will also need to incorporate in your ratings the perceived probabilities of different possibilities, or even perform a simulation.
Rational analysis still plays crucial role in many situations, especially when you have clear criteria and have to deal with extensive quantitative data, like quantitative finance. Yet, you will likely face even more business situations where the rational decision making becomes impractical.
How Do They work?
The simplest way to make sense of why and how intuition works is to think of it as an advanced pattern recognition device. Your subconscious mind somehow finds links between your new situation and various patterns of your past experiences. You may not recall most of the details of those experiences. And even if you did, it may be very hard to express the lessons you learnt in a form acceptable for analytical reasoning. Yet, your subconscious mind still remembers the patterns learnt. It can rapidly project your new circumstances onto those patterns and send you a message of wisdom. That message comes as your inner voice and will most likely be expressed in the language of your feelings. For example, some of the options or solutions you consider may not feel right to you.
How to use intuition effectively
The first important thing to keep in mind is that even when you rely on intuition it is still very important to do your homework. The intuition will help you navigate faster through much of unstructured data and can work around certain gaps and conflicts in the available information. Yet, even intuition can be misled if too many of your facts are wrong or missing.
Pay attention to your emotional state. If you are stressed or in a bad mood, your true inner voice will be distorted or lost in the background of your strong negative feelings. A similar effect may happen with strong positive feelings. If you want to hear your inner voice, get over the background of your strong feelings. Feel them through or let them go. Take a walk. Do something refreshing. Say your prayers. Forgive and accept. Sigh. Refresh your mind with new inputs.
Finally, you can greatly increase the quality of your intuitive decisions if you include certain elements of the analytical approach. In particular, try to follow the procedure of the rational analysis first. As much as you can, capture on paper the ideas on the main options and the criteria for evaluating your choices. Write down the key facts and factors you need to keep in mind.
Following this procedure is an effective way to feed your subconscious mind with all the relevant data it needs. You will help yourself even more if you put all those notes together on paper as a mind map. By having all the important points written in one place you will also refresh your mind. At that stage you are much more ready to listen to your inner voice.
Once, Martha a young lady found herself at her wit’s end. Her business was failing, she owed a huge sum of money that she did not have, and her long-term partner had just ended their relationship. In the small hours one morning she hit bottom, in a crisis of despair.
“There has to be something more,” she said out loud, even though there was none else in the room except her.
“Are you asking?” a voice said clearly, outside of her head. She was too stunned to respond.
“Are you asking?” the voice repeated in an even more
“I guess I am, I am not satisfied with my business performance.” she answered.
“Do immediately what you wish to do. Just, verify your stocks once again and meet your trade debtors and customers afresh. You may get reply to your query.”
Martha heard the voice but found none there. She felt that this voice was coming out of herself only. She went into her shop immediately, did what she was advised. She found that her stocks were more than what the statement given to her by the store keeper. She felt that something was wrong. She made out the list in his absence and went to her trade debtors and customers to know that there had been some misunderstanding brewing without her knowledge. She made the necessary corrections and from that moment on, Martha knew she was not alone in this world. She had just met one of her angels, also known as guides.
Even though at times we may feel isolated and bereft, none of us comes into this world entirely on our own. We always have help and friendship right by our sides in the form of loving, invisible mentors who want nothing more than to play an active role in supporting us before, during, and even after our physical sojourns on earth.
All we need do is ask for their help – and then be ready and open to receive their guidance. In the days following that dramatic encounter, Martha learned much about guides in general and her angels in particular. As vibrating eternal essences (also known as souls or spirits), we choose to experience each physical lifetime. We usually have a purpose for the life we have selected. Such purpose is general, such as teaching, healing , inspiring, creating, and so forth.
Our life purpose attracts to us other spirits who want to share that purpose but do not necessarily desire to do so in a physical body. We then select a group of souls to help us along the way. Often we make our choices based on the fact that we know these spirits already from other physical lifetimes on earth (or elsewhere). We trust these beings and they trust us. Sometimes we include souls who have particular expertise that we believe will be especially helpful to us or because we just want to try something new while on earth.
Then we arrive in our physical bodies. As very young children, we interact with our spirit friends as the invisible companions we play with and who comfort us. Well-meaning adults, however, inform us that these friends are “not real”. We start to distrust our intuitive senses, the means by which we communicate with our angels, and eventually give up our angels, and eventually give up our angels so that we may “grow up” and become “well adjusted”.
Our angels remain with us anyway, sending us their love and guidance, hoping to reconnect in a more direct manner. In times of crisis, we call out for help, and they provide it to the extent we will allow ourselves to receive it. The voice Martha heard was an angel.
Angels/guides have different functions on our behalf. Martha’s angel will guide her spiritual well-being. Another role for a guide is that of protector. In our world full of cars, buses, trains, planes, boats and other forms of mechanised travel, protector put in plenty of overtime paying attention when we are distracted.
Many guides take on the function of jokester. Humour is the easiest and best way to tune into our own heart’s wisdom, so helping us find and appreciate the hilarity and absurdity in life also helps us keep our spiritual connection alive and healthy. Guides are also healers, teachers, legal experts, even business consultants. One of Martha’s guides is a handyman who invariably astonishes his physical counterparts, who cannot understand why Martha is able to tell them the actual mechanical problem even before they inspect the broken machine. Angels or guides present themselves to us usually in a form we can relate to-human- but some guides have shown themselves as comic book figures, like Wonder Woman or Rocky and Bullwinkle, if that’s what and names they take on are simply a matter of making them, their love, and their guidance readily available to us by matching our needs and expectations.
Is it possible for all of us to meet our guides, up close and personal? Yes, provided we are willing to relearn how to trust our intuition. Since guides/ angels do not have physical bodies, we cannot sit down with them for a cup of coffee and a chat. We need our intuition – our hunches, gut feelings, visions, and inner hearing – to be able to receive their messages and send ours in return.
The next step is taking the time and space to get to know our angels via a meet-your-guides meditation, with help if needed. The reacquainted with our angels will come back to us many times over in the acceptance, safety, and well-being. For that, you need to give up your bad habits, take up humanity, sincerity, honesty, selflessness, kindness, patience, humility, justice, temperance and prudence. Your clean brain would be able to listen your intuitions more clearly.
Be Happy – Use Your Intuition as Your Best Guide