What does it really mean to “follow your intuition?”
You are in a restaurant and your senses alert you to someone walking in with a black bag. They scan the dining area and hover in the corner. The hair on the back of your neck stands up. Your intuitive response is, I need to get out of here. No matter what stage you are at in the meal, there is no reason think, let me see how this escalates.
You walk into a job interview and your potential boss is unapologetically sixty minutes late despite your keen punctuality. During the interview, they act inappropriately toward you and speaks down to you making you feel uncomfortable in the environment. Your intuitive response is, “this is not the right employer for me.” Yet, intellectually you think, “let me work here for six months and see if anything changes.”
Intuitive signals are embedded in our distress, no matter where the source lies. All areas of our life can positively work in tandem with intuitive information when we pay attention and follow our intuition. The source of this information is the reptilian brain, our built-in survival guide instructing us when to fight, flee, freeze, feed and fornicate. Without it, humans would not exist today! Regrettably, we have stopped using it, and as a result, the choices of who we fight, what we flee from, what we eat and whom we choose to have sex with might actually be killing us.
As I discuss in my book, Return to Your Senses, relationships and online dating is one prime example where intuition is dismissed for the sake of finding love, no matter how destructive or superficial that love is. We all get caught up in those romantic stories, along with the dreamy descriptions our intellect enjoys inventing. It is that tasty plot filled with attraction, companionship and loyalty that we find intoxicating, even if warning signs about the other person are flashing bright red.
Stop justifying with intellect. We are constantly finding excuses for others’ inappropriate behaviors, to include our own. We also justify our fear instead of thinking it through. Our reptilian brain sends very clear instructions that we must obey. Yet, we don’t because we are too busy justifying everything intellectually instead of responding instinctively. The reptilian brain will not lie to you and does not create the story; it just tells you what to do. Stop. Jump. Run. It never gives you a reason or an explanation; it only gives you the order. The intellectual brain, however, will contradict the order and create the story—you don’t need to run. It won’t be that bad. You hear a gunshot, and the reptilian brain instructs you to find shelter, but intellect informs you that it’s most likely just a car backfiring or the neighbor playing with firecrackers again. Survival incidents do not require justification, only action. Have you ever thought, this location doesn’t feel safe? I assure you it wasn’t by chance or mania. It was your reptilian brain sensing something and instructing you to act. No intellectual justification required.
When my son and I were in the garage cleaning, I noticed something about to fall and I said, “Duck.” And inevitably, he replied, “Why do I need to duck?” It was his intellect that wanted to know what he was supposed to fear. I responded, “How about you just duck, then ask me why you needed to duck?” I’m not walking around the house telling him to look out for the fun of it. The intellectual portion of the brain always wants justification and prefers dreamy descriptions. The reason we need to obey our senses is because they tell us things, including what to fear, for basic survival.
Speaking of fear, it’s a funny thing because it can either diminish our chances of survival or motivate us to thrive. To ensure it doesn’t weaken us, we must be able to decipher what is irrational fear, often a result of being force-fed fear. Consider the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, for example. The media force-fed us nonstop opinions on who to vote for and who not to vote for. Whether you watched Fox or CNN, the network was telling the same story, just in a different tone based on what they want you to believe and how they want you to interpret the story. Clearly, this is for the purpose of higher ratings and to make us feel that we can only make an educated decision based on the information they provide us. Prior to the election, I recall watching CNN, which featured six panelists with their own opinions. The panel was geared toward influencing me on who I should’ve voted for during the Presidential Election based on what they thought I feared most. What they each had in common is they provided information that is not necessarily factual. Our reptilian brain bases its instructions to us on facts, so watching this did not allow me to make the intuitive decision I needed to make, which is really dangerous.
Finding the facts and discovering the information is an active process of understanding and the only way to make a decision that is not based on force-fed fear. Intellectually, we should have interviewed each candidate by taking the time to go to a rally held by both candidates and observing everything to make the best decision. During the Presidential debates, we should have watched the entire hour and a half of each debate so we could make decisions based on what we saw and heard instead of spending ten minutes the next day skimming the commentary that’s been sliced and diced overnight. I encourage you to stop disregarding the information that you need time to process yourself. If you don’t, I assure you that you’ll be left making crucial life decisions from what others believe or what networks deliver as a nicely packaged spin.
For me, the United States of America is a business. We are all equal shareholders trying to decide who is going to be the best CEO to run it for the next four years. I vote on who is best by asking myself who is best to take our company where I want it to be. Who is going to provide more jobs for employees? What relationships will they build with other countries (i.e. businesses) so ours continues to grow? Who will provide better profit? That is how I vote for a President! Many people voted for Hillary “because she is a woman” or Trump “because he owns a business.” That is frightening because people are not voting for what is best for our entire company (United States of America), but what they are most fearful of. Commentators are experts at giving opinions; they are not better than you in deciding who should run our “corporation.”
While spending twelve years in the United States Army, the skill I sharpened most was following my intuition. Today, I protect some of the world’s most prominent people from predators, paparazzi and dangerous lovers as a result of understanding and trusting my instincts.
You have the same abilities! Your instincts will lead you to whatever you are trying to accomplish in a job, relationship, or health. If you pay attention, it will lead you down the path intended only for you. Imagine who you will become in the 2017 if you really trusted your instincts? Some people will never know because they never listen to their guts, indicating something is either “right” or “wrong”. If you listen, you will hear, this is what feels comfortable. This is what feels healthy. This is what love is supposed to feel like. Using your intuition, you can fulfill “all” your needs and desires—and live long enough to enjoy it.
Ronald D Eastman II
President & CEO
Eastman Protective Agency
Author- Return to Your Senses