You hear and maybe you even think this way yourself, that while intuition sounds like something you would like to know more about, we cannot rely on it. I talk in a lot of events and public gatherings on the biological and psychological background of the “gut feeling”, and how it is more than a gurgle in our lower abdomen. After all these public and one to one exchanges, all I can say it that people are conflicted. On one hand, I hear people say “You cannot trust your intuition” and a second later brag about how if a deal does not feel right in their gut they never go into it.

I see three big red flags with these generalizations. I call these the red flags, because while they use it on an hourly (if not every moment) basis, they keep discounting their own first-hand data without asking “what prevents me from trusting my intuition?” As a psychotherapist, I reflect what I hear back to them and this usually shifts a person’s understanding all without any other intervention.

First, people are not clear on what intuition is. We call all kinds of things intuition. Instead of saying “I want to eat chocolate” we say “My intuition tells me to eat a chocolate.” It can be a fine line between being able to tell whether you just want to do something or if it is a signal from within that is protecting or guiding you to do so because of some yet-unforeseen reason for your own good.

This leads to my next red flag; most people do not do the inner work to be able to tell a stress or fear habit from a gut feeling. We have habits we formed to relieve stress and discomfort. These habits range from hard drugs to frequently checking our phone. They can be constructive or otherwise but the real point here is that most people are not aware of them. Therefore, when it is time to tell an intuition from a habitual reaction it is hard to distinguish if this knee jerk reaction I am having is habitual or intuitive.

The third big red flag comes from a similar reason as the other two, rare people invest their time to clear the clutter. We all have perspectives we developed about how things work in the world and sometimes, very rigid ones. When we look at anything on the outside as a reflection of this basic template and this may be preventing us from perceiving data as it already is, from our environment. Inflexible subconscious programs like these also leads us to “ask” our subconscious to confirm this programming and not necessarily help us perceive the real dangers or opportunities.

Intuitions are signals unique to us, our world, that are organized by our subconscious according to what we ask for, (I use the word “ask” to simplify the details of how we in fact get our subconscious to organize information for us.) beside to protect and guide us.

Now, of course there are times that we get an inexplicable urge to do something or see a dream that ends up saving our lives. While each of my clients experienced these after starting to work with me, I refrain from professionally focusing on how the universe is collaborating with us as we clean our clutter and learn to focus our attention. It is enough to know how clinical studies support the significance of developing intuition and to see its tangible (and supernatural to the bystander) results in our lives.