Insights: Our Intuitive Selves

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Society readily accepts science as a way of saying something is absolute, true, or not true, but should we allow our intuition to have a voice as well?

Even Albert Einstein said, “The only real valuable thing is intuition.” Those are pretty big words from one of the most famous scientists to have lived.

Science and our cognitive brain are very powerful, but do not dismiss the importance and value of the network of 100 million neurons that communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, which is the longest of the cranial nerves.

There are messages that are being sent through the vagus nerve, an expression of self at the core.  We often shut this intuitive part of us down because we are so busy in our head chatting away by going over and over the same stories, the same conversations that often have little truth to them and more to do with messages we received growing up, from society and from our challenges.

These stories can be about how we are not good enough, or we need to make more money or how old we are getting.  Do these stories get us anywhere? Absolutely not.

Thinking too much about the future can also lead us to be anxious and even paralyze us. When we can balance our intuition and our thinking, life just tends to work better. However, this is easier said than done. This balance changes constantly, meaning sometimes we need our cognitive brain and sometimes our intuitive brain.

The issue with the brain is it can be convinced of anything. Our intuitive self is not so loud; it’s subtle and gentle. That is why it is easy to dismiss this knowing part of us.

Where does our knowing side come from? There are so many answers to this question.

We can say it comes from our past memories, but that’s only partly true—it’s much more complex than that. Our brain takes in at least 11 million pieces of information per second, but only about 40 of those are conscious. Our knowing part pulls not just from the conscious thoughts like the cognitive brain but also from the 11 million pieces of unconscious pieces.  As you can imagine, this can be both good and bad.

I have personally found by slowing down, being mindful and trusting my inner self, that I am more joyful, things work better in my life and I am more “me,” my true self.  When we get in our head and are over thinking, we often become or do what we think we should. The intuitive side does not live in the “should.” The intuitive part is kind, compassionate, understanding and clear. It does not hold judgment.

Yet we still need our cognitive brain because it allows us to think through our choices with some rationality, but we do not want to get stuck there, and we do not want to get stuck in what others think. We can ponder and process their thoughts but only if they seem to fit with our values, our goals and dreams and who we are.  Understand what your cognitive brain is telling you, but do not forget to incorporate your intuition.  It also has a lot to share with you.

Steve Jobs in all his cognitive ability to invent, believed in his intuition and actually put a lot of his success down to following his intuition.

Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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