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We all have a feeling of what intuition is, but when I tried to look up a definition; I found it difficult to find one that matched my own. The dictionary said it was a “precognitive apprehension, or immediate awareness of reality”, an article I read said: “understanding without a rationale”.

I personally think intuition is a feeling of understanding a situation where 1) the understanding is based on stimulus from what is happening around you and 2) the understanding is based on theoretical knowledge and practical experience from similar situations.

We talk about female intuition and say that women are better at using their intuition. That might be true, but I believe that everybody can learn to use and trust their intuitive skills. I believe that women are better at trusting their intuition because it is expected of them, and traditionally men are practical and women sensitive. I guess we all have heard that little voice inside our head giving us advice.

We meet somebody, but even though the voice (or feeling inside us) tells us that we should take some time to ask how this person is, we don’t do it, only to discover later that something has happened to that person.

There are many reasons why we don’t follow our intuition. Lack of time is one. We know that asking a question may start a conversation that will take more time than we have at the moment.

Lack of trust in ourselves is another reason. We are afraid that somebody may think that we are interfering in something that is none of our business. Fear of rejection keeps us from asking the questions we feel. I believe that the more we follow our intuition, the better we will get to know ourselves. From the reactions we get from other people, we learn more about ourselves, more about other people, life and living.

How can we practice and learn to use and trust our intuition? First step is to open up to the fact that we all have it and to be receptive to it. This includes calming down the left side of the brain, where logic thinking and speech centres are, and focus on the right side of the brain, which is nonverbal and abstract. Be more sensitive and less practical.

If you find it difficult to follow your intuition, for whatever reason, try to take a minute to think over why you avoided it. Try to be honest with yourself. This is also a way to get to know yourself better. You can also write down your intuitive feelings and look at them after some time. Please don’t be too frustrated if you feel that you can’t manage, it is difficult, but don’t give up. Every time you give it some thought, you get better, like in all learning.

In my work I use intuition more and more. I have learnt to listen to people with more than my ears. I am not alone in this; I know that most therapists do the same. We have chosen to work with people because we have an interest in them, and we feel that we have a knowledge that they can benefit from.

In counselling I very often will ask questions based on intuition. Once I had a client who just had had some bad news from the doctor, the doctor had sensed intuitively that the patient needed more help, referred her to me, and after some moment I asked her if she could tell me that she would not do anything to hurt herself. She could not say that, and I referred her immediately to a psychiatrist who confirmed that she was indeed thinking of taking her own life.

This was some years ago and she is now happy that doctors and nurse took time to listen to their intuitive feelings.

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