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How to Trust Your Intuition for Better Decision Making

I spent 22 years in the nursing profession. I enjoy writing, reading historical novels, gardening, and helping people live a healthier life.


How Decisions are Influenced

Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in 1943 that is still relevant today, "A Theory of Human Motivation," that explains the theory of human growth (see the diagram below). Physiological needs obviously must be met first. Next, is love and belonging, self-esteem and finally self-actualization. Many people do not reach full self-actualization as it means reaching their fullest potential in every aspect of life.

While basic needs definitely affect decisions, visceral emotions support your decisions, and emotions will impact most decisions. Social decisions are based on what one thinks is socially appropriate. Collective decisions where family, friends, or neighbors influence a decision may cause you to ignore your instincts. The longer it takes to make a decision, the less comfortable you may feel about that decision.

The Most Important Needs Live at the Bottom of the Pyramid


Thinking in a Western World

Western civilization teaches people to focus on their skills that are provided by using the left side of the brain, which uses logical decision making rather than intuitive sensing. The most difficult part of intuitive thinking is separating intuitive thought from wishful thinking.

It is popular to talk about being centered, which is a totally relaxed, calm state where you’re still fully alert. This is that state that will produce an intuitive idea, unclouded by projections or wishful thinking.

Ways of Thinking

People think in different ways, and if you research this concept you will note many different types of thinking listed on various websites.

This is a list of a few basic ways of thinking:

  • Abstract thinking allows a person to see the big picture and to relate seemingly random things together.
  • Analytical thinking involves sound logic and data analysis to solve problems, but this person can overthink a problem.
  • Creative thinking uses the ability to come up with unique solutions to problems, as the person thinks outside the box.
  • Concrete thinking uses the physical world as this person thinks of ideas and objects as specific items, and they do not use abstract ideas, as they like figures, statistics, and facts.
  • Critical thinking is a level up from analytical thinking as it involves using very careful judgments and evaluations to conclude the accuracy, authenticity, validity or value of something.

There is also convergent thinking that uses a process of utilizing a finite number of possibilities to find a solution. Divergent thinking is the opposite, as it is a way of exploring an infinite number of possibilities to find a solution.

Gut Instinct

People have often had the experience of knowing something before it actually happens, like a gut feeling, which explains intuitive knowledge. For instance, let's say someone is ready to cross a busy street, yet something told them to not step off the curb and a speeding car being chased by the police came flying by a minute later. The gut instinct probably saved your life.

A Secret to Developing Your Intuition

Definition of Intuition

The current definition of intuition is the "subliminal processing of information, which is considered too complex for our rational thoughts. Intuition is learned through our experiences, it is not innate." Intuition is considered the purest form of thought.

People often expect a better result from using their intuition rather than logical thought processes. However, intuition is not always perfect, but it is possible to improve or develop your intuitive skills to utilize your intuition more effectively.

The Brain On Intuitive Thinking

Recently scientists have found that chemical reactions occur in the brain and body during reported intuitive experiences. Intuitive decisions are made in an area of the prefrontal cortex. Scientists still do not know the biological differences between intuitive thought and projection, wishful thinking or just the imagination.

The forms of intuition may include:

  • Visual imagery
  • Sensing body feelings using the eyes, ears, nose gut, heart or any information transmitted from the body without the use of logical thought processes

4 Gut Instincts to Never Ignore

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Ways to Increase Your Intuitive Potential

It is possible to increase the potential for intuitive thinking by tuning in to your body, focusing on meditation techniques, and analyzing images that may be relevant. Having an intuitive experience is described in numerous ways, including a feeling of openness, a sense of connection or belonging, a relaxed feeling, lack of doubt, clarity, excitement, fulfillment, inspired or brightness.

Nature will calm some people, while music or talking with a good friend lets others find that place of calm peacefulness. This will restore that balance and inner peace. Separating yourself from your emotional response or wishful thinking will help clarify your intuitive skills.

In Summary

A clear intuitive decision will give you a profound sense of solving a problem or knowing you are right about some dilemma in your life. This may happen in a split second, as some of Mozart’s symphonies were visualized in just a moment of inspiration. Fear, anxiety or worry will inhibit any clear intuitive thought.

An intuitive answer comes to people in different ways, as some see an image and some visualize the words. Everyone has some intuitive capacity, and the requirements are your intentions and also, paying attention to your body. Practicing a quiet time of meditation, whether walking in the woods or sitting on your yoga mat, will help increase your intuitive skills.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 04, 2020:

Hi Peggy.

Yes, I believe gut instincts and intuition are very important in making decisions. Thank you for your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2020:

Gut instincts are important as the second video portrayed, and it can literally save a life. Intuition is also important. This is a good article, Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 04, 2019:

Hi Maria, I have also been a firm believer in listening to your instincts. I am glad you liked the article, and your kind words are appreciated. Love, Pam

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on June 04, 2019:

Dear Pam,

I am a firm believer in the power of instincts and intuition. Well developed content and practical application here for us.

I thought both of the videos were very informative as well - especially the first with the reminders for us to breathe and listen to our bodies.

Hope your week is off to a great start. Love, Maria

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 01, 2019:

Hi Genna, Our minds are so interesting, yet an enigma at the same time. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on June 01, 2019:

What an interesting, in-depth article, Pamela. I think that quantitative thinking, combined with a finely tuned intuition, are vital to life. Our minds are such fascinating places. :-)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 31, 2019:

Hello Rajan Somg Jolly, Intuition will sharpen your dections to be the correct ones. I appreciate your comments.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 30, 2019:

Interesting to read how the thinking process goes and the way intuition can be sharpened. Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 29, 2019:

Hi Linda, I am glad you enjoyed the article and now you may consider your intuitive feelings when making a decision. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 29, 2019:

Hi Alyssa, I learned a lot myself as I did some research. I am glad you like the article, and your comments are appreciated.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 28, 2019:

This is an interesting and thought-provoking article, Pamela. It's certainly got me thinking about intuition, which I appreciate.

Alyssa from Ohio on May 28, 2019:

This was fascinating! I loved that you added in different types of thinking, I didn't realize there were so many! Have a wonderful week! :)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 28, 2019:

Hi Aldene, It is hard to change, but not impossible. Maybe you could try a different setup for your apartment, and if you don't like it chage it back. I wish you the best. Thank you for your comments.

Aldene Fredenburg from Southwestern New Hampshire on May 28, 2019:

An interesting read! I am pathologically indecisive - I've been trying to rearrange my apartment for months, without success - and I'll have to consider this info to see if I can get to the bottom of things.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 28, 2019:

Hi Lorna, Thank you so much for your kind words.

Lorna Lamon on May 28, 2019:

Great article Pamela informative and very relevant today.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 28, 2019:

Hi Ruby, You and I have much in common as I am the same way as you described. I have always tried to learn from my mistakes too. I appreciate your comments.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 27, 2019:

This was another informative read. I usually can go on gut feelings, not always, but I learn from mistakes. I believe in God and depend on guidance. Our brain's are marvelous. Taking care of our bodies' is a must.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Liz, That was my goal for this post. I am glad you found it thought-provoking. Thank you for commenting.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Linda, I hope this article does help you move forward. You seem to be living with past mistakes, and we all have them. Maybe you can learn to lighten up a bit. I hope you can trust yourself, even if a meal or two is not so good. I always appreciate your comments Linda.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Mel, I understand what you are saying because fear held me back for a long time and sometimes still does. I try to take care of myself and make good decisions, but sometimes it has been hard, I wish you the best for your future, and maybe consider just taking that risk. I apreciate your comments.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 27, 2019:

This is a thought-provoking article. It challenges us to analyse our decision-making process.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 27, 2019:

Pamela, I always look for the good in others, and that has led me to trust when I should not have. So, I'm not very good with using gut instincts. I 2nd- and 3rd-guess when having to make a decision (my family hates going to a restaurant with me because it's like a life and death decision on what I'll order. I usually ask where we are going and then pull up the menu online).

Clearly I have much to learn. Thanks for a fascinating topic; I'll read it again (and again).

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 27, 2019:

I have been thinking a lot lately about how emotions have held me back from doing things that might prove beneficial. Not so much emotional decision as lack of decision. The fear emotion is the primary culprit. There is fear of failure but more importantly, the fear of what if this is successful but I can't think of an encore? Amazing how emotions can be lodestones. Great work.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Flourish, I thinking picking stocks far outweighs directions as we have those maps in our phones. :) Thanks for your comments.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 27, 2019:

When it comes to directions I’m usually dead wrong so thank goodness for iPhones and Google maps. However, I tend to be very analytical and can pick stocks well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Lori, I am a woman of faith also, and I think that helps me make decisions for sure. I am also intuitive in reading people, and I think it helped me be a good RN.

I am glad you enjoyed this article as it was a bit of work. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

Lori Colbo from United States on May 27, 2019:

This was indeed fascinating. I used to trust my instincts a lot. However, as I age I find my instincts aren't always correct.

As a woman of faith, I call on God for the discernment of His will or perspective in a situation. Sometimes I blow it either way.

I will say I am very intuitive in reading some people. I can often tell by their words, their countenance, mood, body language, and other things that indicate they are hurtingor have had trauma in their life. I think that comes from my own life experiences. Great article Pamela. I can tell you worked hard and did your research.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Bill, I think this is a fascinating topic. When I was researching the information I wondered if I wasn't a different type of thinker depending on what I was facing. I think I understand what you are saying.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 27, 2019:

The mind truly is fascinating, isn't it? I love the decision-making process although, at time, I would have a hard time describing how it works for me, if that makes sense. :)

Happy Memorial Day!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Eric, I think we learn until we die, at least it sure seems that way. I think some people are brilliant, but I have met some that do not have any common sense. People can also be arrogant at times. I know I made very good grades in college, but it was not without a lot of study.

Thank you so much for your comments my friend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Meg, Yes, you were right. I had to learn this in nursing school, but sometimes when I am typing I think my brain does not cooperate. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Pop, That didn't work for me at all when I was young, but I do better now it seems. Thanks for dropping by.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2019:

Hi Heidi, This is a complex subject. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am making the right decision, and that is not even on the list, Go figure! Thank you for your comments.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 27, 2019:

This is great Pamela. I have an article around someplace about resentment toward intelligent people who practice thinking. Some folks actually think like people who practice thinking are not better at it than folks who don't.

School without study, sports without practice and even medicine without continuing education and certification.

It is amazing that I am resented for learning and learning and learning how to think. Smart is one thing, trying and practicing is another.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on May 27, 2019:

Did you mean Abraham Maslow? I really enjoyed reading about his hierarchy.

breakfastpop on May 27, 2019:

I have always marveled at people who operate using their gut instincts. To me it shows a kind of confidence that is fantastic.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 27, 2019:

I gotta admit that I have a difficult time trusting my intuition at times. It think it's difficult to distinguish it from irrational fear. And, yes, separating emotion from intuition is absolutely necessary!

Great discussion of a complex topic for sure!

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