Intuition and Instincts

Lesson number: 

In last week's lesson we discussed WISDOM and described it as: "the trait of utilizing extensive knowledge and experience with common sense and insight." We discussed how wisdom regarding a topic develops over decades of experiences. Miraculously, during this same time period, I believe most of us are simultaneously developing INTUITION and INSTINCTS to deal with many of life's choices and perform skills effectively.

Many individuals write about intuition and instincts as though they are some 6th sense and one in the same. I believe that although they are both a process originating in our subconscious, they are two distinct functions that complement each other. Intuition seems more mental to me, used as a decision making function; while instincts seem to have more to do with the physical actions and reactions we engage in.

Let's discuss some examples of this theory. Both intuition and instincts seem to be formed from patterns we experience in life. For instance let's say we were exposed to daily patterns of dark rain clouds, followed by extreme humidity day after day, as typically happens during July and August in Florida. Then immediately following this daily pattern of clouds and humidity we experience a daily downpour including lightning and thunder. By experiencing this pattern over and over, our intuition may change our traveling decisions immediately. At the first sight of these clouds, we may avoid going to the pool as planned or stop and turn around on our way to the beach and proceed home. This recognizable pattern helped us to make an instant decision using our intuition regarding the probability of the upcoming thunder, lightning and downpour.

Similar patterns are stored in our subconscious each and every day. And the longer we are participants in the game of life, the more patterns we will have to draw upon to develop our intuition and decision making capabilities. Individuals in management positions must make split second decisions each and every day. There often isn't time for the Ben Franklin Method of decision making, where you draw a line down a piece of paper and write down the pluses and minuses to analyze. The same type of split second decisions occur while we are driving a car, or making a decision regarding our children's safety and well being. Years of similar patterns and experiences, added to knowledge and wisdom gathered, forms an intuitive or gut decision for better or worse. Along the way, there's lots of trial and error occurring during those decision making processes and their results are being stored in your subconscious for future reference. That's how I believe intuition is formed.

Thus as discussed above, I find that intuition is more of a mental storing process that relates to how you make choices and decide. Instincts on the other hand, at least in the animal kingdom are regarded as characteristics that are programmed through heredity to perform a particular behavior. For instance certain types of ants and bees do not have to learn to be designated worker's; they do so at birth by instinct. The African Wildebeest runs with the pack minutes after its birth to protect itself from being eaten by lions or tigers. These are instinctive animal behaviors.

According to some scientists, instincts are not learned behaviors. For instance you don't learn to blink when someone throws a punch at your face. Or learn to struggle if someone holds your head under water. These are instincts of survival. Yet we often hear fans say that a seasoned baseball hitter has developed great instincts when swinging at the plate. Or performers at the highest skill level in magic, music or even in the circus are said to have developed incredible instincts for their craft. As you can tell from these examples they are all about actions and reaction skills as opposed to intuitive decision making.

However, similar to the years of patterns and experiences it takes to form intuition, it takes years of focus and devoted practice to form quick instinctive skills. The two key ingredients to forming both are patience and an ongoing desire and discipline to incrementally improve through practice every day. These are the same two ingredients necessary to gathering knowledge and developing wisdom over the years. In fact patience and incremental improvement daily can work miracles in developing any skills or achieving any goals throughout your life. Yet as we all know, practicing patience and discipline in your life is easier said than done.

With patience and discipline added to desire and training, I believe you can develop both intuition and instinctive skills that can greatly enhance your chances of making good decisions, achieve more of your goals, and enjoy a better lifestyle while you are a participant in the game of life.