Learning Strategies Blog

Learn to Trust Your Intuition

by Paul Scheele

Unsure what to make for dinner? Which car to buy? The next step in your career?

Leave it to your intuition to decide. Your unconscious brain will support it, research suggests.

According to a recent study at the University of Rochester, your brain is hard-wired to help you make the best decisions possible—especially when you let its unconscious side decide.

To determine the brain’s accuracy, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences Alex Pouget set up an unconscious-decision test involving a computer screen with dots moving in random directions. A controlled number of these dots were set to move in uniform, patterned directions.

Pouget asked participants to watch the screen and predict which direction the dots would move next—right or left.

The longer participants watched the dots, the more they became aware of the dots’ patterns—even before they realized they were aware. By analyzing neuronal patterns, Pouget observed the parts of the brain that track left or right movements would light up in accordance with the dots’ movements. This allowed participants to accurately calculate the next move farbefore their conscious minds kicked in, when they could confidently state predictions as definite answers.

Your unconscious decision-making skills allow you to reach reasonable decisions in a comparatively small amount of time, says Pouget. If you wait until you’re 99 percent positive, you waste time accumulating unnecessary data before making a decision, he suggests. If you require only 51 percent certainty and trust your intuition, you can make decisions as effectively and in less time.

Learning to trust your intuition can be a matter of trial and error and practice. There are many techniques to ask your intuition for yes and no responses to a variety of questions. In our Intuition Amplifier Paraliminal, we suggest the simple technique of muscle testing. To try it, follow these steps:

  1. Put your thumb and index finger together to form a circle.
  2. Put your other index finger inside that circle and pull to break it apart, right where the thumb and index finger match.
  3. At the point you pull, say, “Show me strong.” Notice how hard it is to pull them apart.
  4. Next, say, “Show me weak,” and notice how easy it is to pull them apart.
  5. Ask, “Is my name George?”, and pull them apart.
  6. Now ask, “Is my name ____________”, then state your name and pull them apart. You will notice the difference and see it is strong.

Whatever the situation, you can use muscle testing to help guide you towards the best decision. Pay attention to whatever your internal resources bring into consciousness for you. That’s intuition.