Instinct is an automatic and visceral response that communicates through intuition. Indeed, we could say that intuition is the sublimated manifestation of instinct and even if this does not respect analytical reasoning either, it offers us more detailed information and does not have such a peremptory character that it pushes us to action. While instinct prompts us to act almost immediately, intuition is an alarm signal that encourages us to stop and think.
However, after centuries of civilization, we have put aside our instincts and intuition. We opted for reason, trying to hide feelings by turning a deaf ear to the call of instinct because we believe it is not "on our level".
However, consider that paying attention to your instincts or intuition does not mean judging, it is not giving in to stereotypes or being influenced by fear, it simply means listening to what your body or the emotional part of your brain has to tell you.
Your instinct holds a message
1. Feeling of danger. Chances are that at least once you have felt like you are in danger and wondered if it was real or if you were just exaggerating. When you feel a feeling of anguish telling you to flee, the first thing you think is that it depends on your imagination. However, when you feel you are in danger it is best to take action. The same goes for health problems when you feel that something is wrong but you can't pinpoint what it is.
Of course, it's not about becoming hypochondriac or paranoid, but about listening to the signals your body sends. In fact, we should remember that our unconscious picks up more information than we can consciously handle and sometimes, the feeling of danger comes from it, so we should pay attention to it.
2. The first impression. First impression is a mechanism by which we attribute stable personality traits to others on the basis of small elements, usually visual cues; a person's face, the clothes they wear or how they move. This process is very simple, but it serves to guide us when we know next to nothing about the other person, which means they could also be dangerous.
Therefore, until the first impression becomes a stereotype, it is convenient to be influenced by this signaling mechanism that can bring us closer or further away from a person, if we consider that it may represent a threat.
3. Correct decision. Every day we make decisions, some in seconds, others are more important and put us at a crossroads. To make a good decision, especially when it comes to a choice that can change your life, it is advisable to take some distance from the problem, so that you can evaluate the different options from a more objective point of view.
However, emotions are not the enemy. In fact, before making a final decision, it is advisable to imagine how we will feel. Letting that part of us speak out that tells us we're heading in the right direction or we're wrong. It is not about letting yourself be guided solely by instinct, but we should still listen to it, because if you feel uncomfortable with a certain decision it is likely that it is not good.
Are instinct and intuition reliable?
Instinct can go wrong and intuition isn't always reliable. However, we can also be wrong when we make a rational decision. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Tel Aviv showed that letting ourselves be guided by our instincts is not as crazy as it seems, because the success rate can be as high as 90%.
In this experiment, the psychologists got people involved in controlled decision making. Sequences of pairs of numbers passed quickly on a computer monitor.
One sequence was shown in the upper right and the other in the lower left. The volunteers' task was to identify the row that contained the highest average. However, the problem was that the numbers passed so quickly in front of their eyes that they were impossible to memorize, so the volunteers had to resort to intuition.
The incredible thing is that the more pairs of numbers that appeared on the monitor the more difficult it was to calculate the average, but the greater the success obtained by the volunteers. In fact, when 6 pairs of numbers were shown to them in sequence, 65% of people identified the average, while when the pairs of numbers were 24 the correct answers increased to 90%.
This simple experiment shows that relying on our intuition and letting ourselves be guided by our instincts isn't always bad. On the contrary, it can help us make the right decision.
There are occasions when we need to put into practice the words of the Spanish writer Armando Palacio: “When he is close to the abyss and the night is dark, the wise rider lets go of the reins and relies on the instinct of the horse”.