Intuition vs. Judgment

The other day, I was wondering about the difference between intuition and judgment.  Intuition is invaluable to the therapeutic process.  Often the most fruitful avenue to self-exploration is revealed in momentary sense, or a hunch.  Intuition has been viewed as everything from a divine message to the brain’s reaction to unconsciously perceived micro-expressions.  In my opinion, intuition doesn’t require a logical, or rational justification to serve as a guiding light in one’s life.

Judgments, to me, are thoughts that have passed through our beliefs about people and our ideas about the way the world works.  Judgments can be colored by our past experiences, the media, social conditioning, our mood, and about a zillion other things.  Judgments work to uphold our values, fears, hopes, and sense of self.  I don’t think it’s wrong to judge (or even possible not to), I just think it’s a source of information closely tied with one’s personal identity.

I think judgments are born in the prefrontal cortex of the brain whereas the birthplace of intuition seems to be the body.  Or, rather, the body might be seen as the vessel for intuition.  Judgments feel like a personal creation, whereas intuition strikes me as being connected to something more abstract.  While this distinction might help with discerning judgment from intuition, it doesn’t capture the whole picture.

It seems a little hazier when we add the dimension that judgments can quickly move from the mind to the body.  Lets say, for example, you meet a potential business partner and get a strong sense that they are untrustworthy.  Perhaps this message shows up with your heart pounding, and your feet instructing you to run the other way!  However, in the same scenario, let’s say that the facial features of this individual remind you of a childhood bully.  The trauma of those memories might trigger a reaction in the body.  What is initially a projection/transference (this unsafe person is going to treat me like that person from my past) might be interpreted as an intuition, and thus limit the amount of options open to you.

I think the key is to not to respond immediately to the somatic experience.  Instead, when a strong feeling comes up, check in and get really curious about it:  What exactly does it feel like?  Does the sensation change when you place your attention on it?  What sorts of thoughts accompany the sensation? What action does the feeling prompt?   Maybe most importantly, When (if ever) have you felt this exact way before?

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