When we meet a new person, we automatically decide what we think of them within seven seconds. It’s an unconscious reaction and one that we’re often not even aware of.
It goes back to our early hunter-gather days, when deciding whether you could trust someone quickly could be key to your survival.
These days we don’t need to pass judgement quite so quickly, but we haven’t evolved much either. Our instincts are still the same as those early humans.
We’re always encouraged to listen to our rational, analytical side, but there’s increasing evidence that our intuition plays a big role in helping us make decisions by helping us to process information.
Our brains are sorting through everything you’ve observed and trying to compare it to past memories and experiences – all to help you make a decision. And you won’t even be aware that you’re doing it.
While intuitive thinking is seen as fast and instinctive, we use it alongside our rational side all the time.
Read on to learn more about intuition and take the quiz…
When it’s a bad idea to listen to your gut feeling
There are times when listening to your instincts is a bad thing to do. Intuition draws on your past experiences and ideas, which means sometimes biases can creep into your thinking.
For example, the caveman part of your brain wants you to eat unhealthy food because in the past foods with lots of calories would have helped to ensure your survival. Your gut instinct wants you to eat it, but your rational side can decide that you don’t need that burger.
We’re also constantly looking for patterns in life in order to make our decisions, but that can mean that we see patterns where there are none – and make poor decisions as a result.
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When you should listen to your intuition
Ever had an odd feeling about someone and felt that you shouldn’t trust them? That’s your intuition kicking in: sometimes your brain can read someone’s behaviour and body language subconsciously and you’ll feel a twinge in your gut that they’re not all they seem.
Sometimes this is a physical sensation, sometimes just a general sense of unease. Listening to this intuition can help you avoid dangerous situations.
Intuition isn’t always related to danger – it can also help you to sense when others are in need so that you can help them. Intuition kicks in during conversations and shows you which topics to avoid.
How much do you rely on your intuition? Take our quiz to find out how intuitive you are.
Photos by Drew Colins, Nursultan Bakyt and Candice Picard on Unsplash.