Your Instincts Lie, and They’ll Destroy You.
The next time I hear the famous line, “Follow your intuition” I will punch that person in the face.
What really is this gut feeling everyone trusts so much? Technically, our very own instincts are based on knowledge and experience we’ve accumulated over the years and less on the whole “magical”-sensation-that-makes-us-feel-safe thing.
Inevitably, intuition is limited to our subjective perceptual frame.
In Psychology Today, cognitive research has found that the development or process of a perceptual frame involves two primary paths for processing the relevant information. Some will go through the rational channels, and some through intuitive channels.
Intuition is interlaced with automatic, subconscious judgement, which is dramatically influenced by emotion. It’s quick, and its decisions often arrive without analysis.
If it’s not obvious yet, your intuition is vulnerable to bias and mistakes. Your intuition (and mine) sucks.
The issue with our gut feeling is that it’s evolutionarily-justified and we refuse to accept that it’s simply wrong. We claim that evolution has “proven” that our gut instincts have helped us survive the dangers of the world.
Well today, ladies and gentlemen, our prey are no longer the ones we hunt in the wild, but they live within us.
The men we think we loved who manipulated or tricked us could have very easily been eliminated if it weren’t for the whole “I feel that he’s the one”.
Or perhaps that moment when your friend stabbed you in the back. You didn’t see it coming because you trusted them and felt that they would never do that to you.
Or that time when you’ve had to make a life-changing decision (like getting married) and just went with what felt like the right thing to do…
…only, in the end, to realize things could’ve gone a lot better if you would have just thought it out a bit more.
I understand that it’s much easier to make a decision without looking at the facts or without analyzing a situation. It’s easier to make an instinctive conclusion instead of challenging your rationality.
Yet the desire to trust our intuition and “go with the flow” is dangerous.
It can lead us to cross borders we never knew existed and blind us to live in a world that couldn’t be further from reality.
We can’t trust our instincts simply because we create a world that is built only on what we want to see, and not really on what we don’t.
We’ll keep looking until we find those people, things and ideas that relate and prove our own subjective notions.
All of these subjective threads of constant searching are then integrated and become part of what we call intuition.
Everything that is familiar and relevant, we like. Everything that proves the opposite of what we “bond” or relate to will trigger a negative response or will be rejected.
Give you an example — You’re a warm and outgoing individual. You like socializing and showing people that you’ve got a big, generous heart.
Someone of the opposite nature with a very cold etiquette who doesn’t talk much will not strike you in the most positive way.
Why? Because they’re not relevant to your nature, and they’re not going to help prove your own theories about how the world should be.
Then, what happens? “I don’t know, getting some bad vibes from this person.”
But are you really getting this bad energy because your intuition is protecting you, or is it simply because they don’t fit within your subjective threads?
Give you another example.
You meet a gorgeous guy (or girl) and things are getting heated. There’s a strong physical attraction, a lot to talk about, and sparks are everywhere. A month in, more attraction, passion, and flirting.
There are discussions, sexual tension, and whatever’s in between a potential relationship.
You feel they’re the one, because well your gut is right there with you, right?
Your gut may just be a pile of emotional currents from butterflies in your stomach, “passion” in your veins, and perhaps because you’re high off the love drug — Oxytocin.
The three main reasons people decide to trust their gut is either because they believe a higher force is guiding them, they have gotten lucky flipping the coin a few times and put complete trust in their gut, or they have gotten so used to using their gut in important choices that it’s become a dependency.
Yet, what we do not understand is that whenever any human being is presented with a stimulus, such as a smell, touch, taste or sound, there is an automatic initial reaction.
The same goes for when a decision or opportunity is presented. The initial reaction or our intuition is presented first, and only then our logic follows.
This is to say that when it comes to rationalizing to make decisions, we are naturally inclined to follow the initial response or our gut, and the logic is a second priority.
Perhaps when we make decisions, since logic and objectivity does not come naturally, we must train it like a muscle.
Once you start training your mind to think less emotionally and more on a logical scale, you will see wonders.
One of the main reasons I chose to write this is because of my very own experiences in relationships.
I am going to marry an individual that I met who I didn’t have immediate sparks with, and did not even consider him to be my “type”.
Since at the time, I was working on thinking more with my logic than pure emotions (like in my previous failed relationships) I started seeing my relationship differently.
I asked myself questions like:
Is he compatible with my personality?
Can I tolerate his flaws?
Does he have the qualities that I look for in a husband?
Is he the one?
Is it passionate(like the notebook)?
Do I get butterflies when he texts me?
The difference between both set of questions is that one is more driven toward a goal and the other is driven solely by pure need for emotion.
The bottom line is that trusting your gut can work in some occasions (by coincidence) and should not be relied on when it comes to life outcomes.
Make realistic assumptions, try and suppress any impulsive emotions that threaten your objectivity and decide on what really makes sense, not on what you want to make sense.