You know when you just know?
I’m talking about those times when, before you can rationalize something or give it a good think-through, you already get a sense of whether it’s good or bad, helpful or harmful.
This is intuition, defined by the American Psychological Association as “immediate insight or perception, as contrasted with conscious reasoning or reflection.”
In other words, you get a feeling or an understanding without reasoning or a need for an explanation. It’s more than a feeling. Sometimes, people can actually make good decisions and assessments without having to think anything through.
Should you always depend on your intuition and ignore analytical thought?
Probably not, but here are six moments in life when it’s crucial to listen to your intuition for your own benefit.
1) When you feel real fear
I’m not talking about the sort of thing you feel when you’re scared that people will think your outfit looks tacky. That’s worry, not fear.
When I say fear, I mean something that’s actually real, strong, and visceral.
This is when your skin turns to gooseflesh, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. Your heart beats faster as your fight-or-flight response gets activated.
I’ll tell you about something that happened to me once that almost cost me big time.
I was a teenager, and I loved hiking and climbing in the mountains.
One day, I was out on a backpacking trip with some friends, and we came upon a spectacular canyon. We walked into the lower end and continued until the walls were towering fifty feet over our heads.
My friend and I really wanted to climb the walls, which looked really easy.
I started up a wall, and it was a piece of cake. My friend was following me until I got about three-quarters of the way up.
That’s when I suddenly felt a tingle. I shouted down to her that she should divert from my route and not climb directly below me.
She did, and not more than a minute later, it saved her life.
I grabbed a big hold and started to pull myself up when it suddenly slipped out of my hand. That sent a hock the size of my head plummeting to the canyon floor, followed by a miniature rockslide.
If my friend had still been below me, she’d have been smashed off the wall and almost surely would have fallen to her death.
If I hadn’t listened to my intuition that day, it would have spelled disaster.
2) When you feel your body is telling you something about your health
Have you ever felt like your body is telling you something?
You’d be surprised how often people intuit that something is really wrong, and it’s confirmed by medical science.
I’m not saying, however, that every time you’ve got a headache, you need a brain scan.
But sometimes something is wrong on the inside, and you just somehow know even though it doesn’t make much sense.
This happened to a friend of my dad’s about ten years ago.
It’s going to sound weird and a bit nasty, but this is a true story. He was about 60 years old and in great shape. He felt good and had nothing to complain about.
But something strange gave him a weird feeling.
He noticed that his pee was starting to smell… funny.
I know it never smells good, but something was odd. Most of us would probably just think it was something we ate, but he felt something was off.
When he went in to get things checked, he found out his intuition was bang on. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer, but it was caught early and treated, and now he’s completely cancer-free.
But if he hadn’t acted, they may not have caught it in time. This is a moment in life when it’s crucial to listen to your intuition.
3) When something is off with a close relationship
We humans are extremely well set up to notice things about the people we’re close to.
We can often sense how they’re feeling or notice even the slightest change in their behavior. This may be because people lived in small band societies or family groups for most of human history.
I think we probably got so used to seeing the same people day in and day out that we became extremely adept at reading them.
These days, we may see a huge number of other people every day, especially if we live in big cities, but we still have the ability to sense things about the people we’re really close to.
Have you ever given a friend a hug and known instantly that something was wrong?
Sometimes, all it takes is a glance at their face or hearing them speak for a few seconds to know that something is off.
What if you can’t put your finger on what it is?
No problem. This is a moment in life when you’re right to trust your intuition, so go ahead and ask them.
If they tell you something is up, I doubt you’ll be surprised.
4) When you need to rest
Have you been getting enough sleep? Has it been of good quality?
So why do you feel tired?
Sometimes, adding up the hours doesn’t get to the reality of the situation.
If you feel tired, you are tired – it’s that simple – and that means you need some rest and relaxation.
What if you’ve been getting the right daily dose of sleep, at least seven to eight hours a night, but you’re still tired?
This, again, can be your body telling you something, and it’s important to listen.
My uncle had this issue for two years before he did anything about it. He slept eight or nine hours a night (oh, to be retired!), plus he usually had a short afternoon nap.
Yet he was tired almost all the time.
At first, he just thought it was because he was getting older, but eventually, he was persuaded to go to a sleep clinic.
And guess what?
They found that he had sleep apnea and was waking up on average 18 times a night. This was stopping him from getting his all-important deep sleep and keeping him chronically tired.
When your intuition tells you that you need rest, trust that you do – no questions asked.
5) When your eyes say yes but your stomach says no
Sometimes, food can look incredibly delectable but not be anywhere near as good as it looks.
Hey, some chefs are better at presentation than taste, I guess!
But what about those times when you see something that looks great, yet the idea of eating it somehow turns your stomach?
What’s going on there?!
While most of us do our hunting and gathering in the aisles of the grocery store, we used to do it for real. Our ancestors were outside in nature, trying every day to find food just to survive.
And you’d better believe they were good at it!
They were able to recognize hundreds of animal species and thousands of different useful and edible plants. They had to know the difference between something they could eat and something that looked similar but was poisonous.
They also had a great sense of when food was spoiled or infested.
Well, we’re still biologically the same today as those hunter-gatherer ancestors, and we’ve inherited a lot of their sense regarding food.
Sometimes, we can just take one look or one sniff and know that something is going to make us sick, even if it looks delicious.
If this happens to you, don’t fight the feeling. Trust your intuition and find something else to snack on. You won’t be sorry.
6) When you’re attracted to someone
Attraction and interest sometimes make all the sense in the world.
That guy is handsome, fit, and smiley. Just your type?
She’s gorgeous, fun, and clever. Who wouldn’t want to meet her?
Then there are times when your head says no, but something else says oh yeah!
This is your intuition speaking.
You might meet a person or even glance at them from across the room and feel instantly that you need to get to know them better.
How does this happen – pheromones? Destiny?
I think it’s even simpler. We all have things we find attractive in others, and sometimes we can pick up on them subconsciously before we ever think about them.
A certain movement or a turn of phrase might speak volumes about what kind of person we’re dealing with and instantly send our hearts a-pitter-patter!
When you’ve got a gut feeling about these six moments in life, it’s crucial to trust it.
Your intuition might not always be right, but in these situations, it’s better to go with it rather than ignore it.
It just might make all the difference in your life!