Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Listen to Your Gut

Intuition is a very powerful, very potent force: Utilize it.

Possibility one - I have an exceptionally good intuition.  I'm an idiot with genius-class intuition, fundamentally.  Well, not really, I'm pretty smart, but I'm nowhere NEAR as smart as whatever heuristics drive my intuition are.  (Some of my intuitions have been firmly in "There is absolutely no way I could have known that" territory.)

Or, possibility two - I'm a pretty smart guy who actually listens to what my brain and body are telling me.

I'm leaning towards #2.

"Unlock your inner power"?  No, not really.  Intuition isn't built to design spacecraft engines; the problems it's designed to handle are somewhat smaller in scope.  It also is not a key into the supernatural world, even if it does seem like it sometimes; all the information it needs is available to you.

There are two major roles for intuition in our daily lives - social intuition, and dietary intuition.  (I'm using "intuition" to refer to any form of instinctive knowledge or instinctive knowledge processing.)

Three people in my lifetime have given me "the creeps."  The strong desire not to be in the same room with them, the desire to be anywhere else.  None of them were good people, and one of them killed his daughter by intentionally getting into a car accident.  (He wanted to die too, and go to heaven with her, apparently.)

My intuition works best the less I know about somebody; the more I know, the more my brain uses that information, as opposed to whatever information my intuition runs on; and as a result I can usually tell you more about yourself five minutes after meeting you than I can after a week of knowing you.  Your mileage may vary, I'm speaking to personal experience here.  Intuitive knowledge is not as accurate, obviously, but it's information I have no obvious reason to know.  Such as whether you've had a major philosophic breakdown in your life, or if you're a guy and gay.  (Although I rarely need the latter as a matter of intuition.  Not because of a lisp, or feminine body language, or some other TV-gay sign - it's just the fact that most gay people drop hints.  Lots of them.  For one simple example, straight people don't mention San Fransisco in normal conversation.)

At any rate, if somebody gives you the creeps, pay attention.  Maybe it's nothing too terrible, but maybe it is, and being alert doesn't cost you anything.

It slices, it dices, and it will also tell you what to eat.  That's what a craving is.  Your body associates tastes with nutrients; you can make chocolate suck by spitting it out instead of swallowing it for a couple of weeks, because your body will go, "Bleh, that stuff has nothing in it."  Similarly, you can really fuck up your body's cravings by associating nutrients with tastes that don't deliver - seriously, people, don't give children candy vitamins.

When your body demands carrots, or broccoli, or spinach, or something else you don't normally put on your plate - don't look at me that way, I know you don't - feed it.  And if you have a craving that doesn't seem attached to anything - when you have to eat, right now, and nothing looks good - first try imagining lots of different foods and see if a little bell goes off for one.  If that fails, try popping a multivitamin with a banana.  (There are worse foods to associate with the vitamins, after all.)

Your gut reactions can be trained, you see; intuition is instinctive, it isn't dumb.

Intuition can only bring you so far, however; it isn't dumb, but it isn't smart, either, and is very easily fooled.  That "instinctive" thing?  Means two very important things.  First, it is designed to deal with issues your ancestors would have dealt with; it might help you solve an algebra problem, but it's just as likely to get you into trouble.  Second, because of its predictability, other people can prey on it, and use it against you.

So listen to your gut.  But be prepared to have a second opinion.

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