Intuition versus Cognition


Think about it.  Why don’t we ever say “feel about it?”

Our cognitive abilities are amazing.  After all, it is what sets us apart from the animals.  Yet, why are we so dismissive of our intuitions?

You know what intuitions are.  For us girls, many times it is when you are walking down a dark street alone at night and you get that prickly feeling on the back of your neck.  Your brain seems to be saying, “Danger!  Danger!  We need to get out of this situation!”  Intuition can also be less serious: I feel like wearing this dress today instead of the pantsuit.  I feel like taking this route to work instead of this one even though Google Maps says there is more traffic.  I feel like I am supposed to go into this Starbucks right now.  When these feelings arise, do you listen to them or do you poo-poo them?

I think as a culture we have been conditioned to ignore a lot of our intuitions in favor of cognitions.  The brain says, “It doesn’t make a difference if you wear a dress or a pantsuit.”  “Take the other route to work to work, you’ll add five minutes with the traffic this way.”  “Don’t go into Starbucks, you’ve already had two cups of coffee today and you should save yourself the $3.”

What if the president of your company notices you in the elevator because your dress is more noticeable and stylish?  A quick compliment could turn into a conversation which turns into a lunch invitation which six months later turns into a promotion with a major salary increase.

What if, by taking the more congested route to work, you avoided a six car pile up that could have totaled your car?

What if you met the love of your life standing in that Starbucks line waiting for a third cup of coffee that day?

Obviously we can’t spend our whole life “what if-ing” but we also don’t need to shame ourselves for making decisions based on a gut instinct rather than rationale.  There is a time and a place for both.  Maybe what sets us apart form the animals is our ability to differentiate between when to use intuition versus when to use cognition.

I hope you are taking time to hone both.


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