A Coaching Power Tool created by Nancy Hiller
(Transitions Coach, UNITED STATES)
Have you ever “wracked your brain”, trying to find a solution or conclude what the ‘best’ possible choice was? Then, when you finally gave up, and only when you completely surrendered to the fact that you just do NOT know… some time later, a calm ‘knowing’ or answer, often accompanied by a warm feeling in the heart just seems to show up out of nowhere. It took no effort, no linear or deductive reasoning, and it may not even be ‘logical’ yet you can tell it ‘feels’ right.
Once we arrive at this ‘feeling right’ place, there seems to be no going back. Should we even attempt to entertain the idea of choosing differently at this point, it’s as if we’re scratching a chalkboard with our fingernails… it just feels too uncomfortable to go against what we instinctively or intuitively know to be true for us. This is intuiting or it can be expressed as ‘heart thinking’ instead of ‘brain or mind thinking’.
It can be fascinating when we become aware of just how often we intuit throughout every day of our lives. Though many associate intuition with extra sensory perception or some sort of mythological witchcraft, there is nary a human being that gets through the day without it – like digestion or blood pressure and the rest of our autonomic nervous system, we are constantly making thousands of ‘mini choices’ throughout every day wherein we utilize NO effort of logical, linear, or deductive reasoning. Perhaps we do indeed have e.s.p. and perhaps, it isn’t exactly ‘extra sensory’, but, just a sensory perception we’re just beginning to discover.
Take, for example, that beverage you are sipping – perhaps right now. Did you ‘wrack your brain’ deciding when to take that next sip or how much to sip? Or, even prior to getting your last drink of water, did you logically deduce that’ the sensations you were feeling added up to the likely possibility that your organs needed 4-5 ounces of the clear liquid known as H20 in order to flush toxins from your body’? Perhaps, you simply ‘intuited’ you would feel a little better if you drank some water. You didn’t question that impulse to get a glass of water, nor did you wrack your brain over the decision. There was an element of SELF-TRUST in your essential if not instinctual impulse to get a glass of water and drink it until you FELT you didn’t need or simply didn’t WANT any more.
Many may argue that the above example is ‘instinct’ and not intuition. The ‘instinct vs. intuition’ debate has and will go on for many more centuries, but, all seem to agree that what the two have in common is that they do NOT involve thinking or reasoning in the most common definitions of the words. Like geese remarkably flying in formation and acting ‘as one’ or a baby crying when it is hungry and even grand displays of intuition such as the passenger, for ‘no reason’, deciding to get off the airplane at the last minute saving her life by doing so – they all involve ‘no thought’. So, for purposes of this writing, we will not differentiate and just categorize them both as ‘perception not commonly understood in the 21st century’.
When we are calm, these decisions or ‘knowings of the best choices’ seem to just flow – one flowing action into another until the day is complete – like a graceful ballet. We look back over the day and we say ‘what a good day’… Maybe we got up, took a shower, went for a walk, got some work done on the computer before lunch, and then went to the post office…. Throughout the day, we wore an inner smile and all just seemed to flow. Only later, we may have looked back and observed, “everything just seemed to flow with its own purpose today – for instance… “something told me to check again under the car seat and there was the letter I had been looking for”… and “had I not decided to go to the post office at that exact time, I would not have run into Charlie who offered me the editing job I had been dreaming of” ….and so on.
Had we debated over whether or not to go to the post office before or after lunch, or perhaps made two columns of PRO’s and CONS for 1) going to the post office today vs. going to the post office tomorrow and ‘wracked our brains’ over this decision, could we EVER have had all the information we would need to make a ‘logical’ decision for the best possible outcome?
An old Professor once told me that he had to rely on his intuition just until he was as smart as God – interestingly enough, he was a Physics Professor steeped in methods of deductive reasoning and logical-linear thinking. In other words, can we really get by without this thing called ‘intuition’ unless we have ALL the information there possibly is to have in order to make truly ‘informed’ decisions all the time?
The ‘thinking man’ depicted so beautifully in bronze by Auguste Rodin in his work ‘the Thinker’ has been a figure of great admiration and highly esteemed, most especially since the age of the Renaissance. Quotes from laudable figures like Shakespeare, “I think, therefore I am” give clues to the dawning of the scientific age and the growing disparities of ‘religion’ vs. ‘science’… The Salem witch trials of the 17th Century should have been of no surprise after a few centuries of putting the human mind on a pedestal equal to or surpassing the religious icons of the day. Intuition became associated with ‘paganism’, devil worship, and all that was deemed inferior if not ‘evil’ in both the scientific and religious communities.
Higher learning, deductive and logical reasoning and scientific proof of all we experience became the mandated precursor to anything we might entertain or incorporate into our belief system. If it couldn’t be ‘proved by logic, science or both’, it simply didn’t exist or was labeled ‘superstition’.
As often as does happen throughout history, pendulums tend to swing and the ‘thinking vs. intuition’ debate is no different. Logical reasoning is something we hardly want to live without, as well. Its usefulness is as important as opposing thumbs are to the human being. We not only remember things but, with logical, deductive, and inductive reasoning, we can take those memories and see the relationships that help us to predict simple outcomes saving trial and error. For instance we remember last time it rained the grass was wet for hours afterward – therefore, since I know the sprinkler produces water just like rain, and the sprinkler went on this morning just 30 minutes ago, I’ll put on my rubber shoes before going out to get the mail.
Mathematics, engineering, and the entire human-made world cannot exist without the mind’s ability to reason, but, we’re suggesting that it will serve us when the pendulum finishes its swing and finds a restful place in the middle between the two. It’s clear that the intuitive process has been not only ignored, but, disparaged in all too recent history and it can benefit us and our clients greatly if we give it the attention that it deserves – especially when it comes to the big decisions and transitions in our lives.