Barriers to Intuitive Decision Making

I have written a few posts on intuition as a tool for decision making which I hope have been useful. However I must admit that there are times when its difficult to access our intuition, and there are times when relying intuition is a bad idea.

I am in my early fifties, and have been working at how to better understand myself for quite a while. For a very long time I had enormous difficulty working out how to make certain types of decisions, and telling the difference between a sound intuition and unhelpful impulse or limiting thought pattern. I am very fortunate to have reached a point where I am happy, emotionally stable, and living in a secure context. From this place, I am lucky enough to be able to really explore intuition in a deeper way.

Having said this, I remember times when this wasn’t true for me, and I understand that this is not the situation that many people find themselves in. There are times when we have no idea what our wiser self is saying. There are times when the voices we are hearing are confusing and negative.

There are two broad scenarios I would like to mention. The first situation is what we’ll call “general confusion”. This is the everyday confusion that arises when we are ambivalent about what we want and uncertain of where to place our priorities. We have mixed feelings and lots of plausible options and arguments, and don’t know which way to jump or why. Our thoughts and feelings seem to be in conflict and its hard to separate intuition from other instincts and impulses. Our intuition is functioning in a healthy way, but we don’t know how to pick it out from all the other messages spinning in and around us. One of the themes of this blog will be how I have approached this kind of confusion and some of the strategies that I have found useful.

The other scenario is situations where our intuition may be impaired, and therefore not a reliable source of wisdom for living. I am thinking about situations where the cues used by intuition such as our physical sensations, emotional reactions and thought processes are not working in a healthy or helpful way. This includes some mental health problems, the impact of addictions, and other crisis situations where our bodies and minds are flooded with intense thoughts and feelings that are difficult to manage. These intense feelings can overwhelm or distort our capacity to make good intuitive decisions. In these scenarios it is unwise to rely on intuition alone, or sometimes at all, as a basis for decision making. I am not intending to address these situations in this blog as they require a specialised response.

Like any tool intuition needs to be used carefully in appropriate situations. Its a good idea to seek the help of a friend, family member or professional when making decisions if you have any reason to believe your judgement may be significantly impaired.


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