How To Sharpen Your Intuition

Your intuition is the part of you that makes split-second decisions without you consciously realizing it. It's the part of you that gives you hunches, gut feelings, and vibes. It's the part that's responsible when you know just what to say or do without really realizing how or why. But on the other hand, it's also the part of you that's responsible for jumping to conclusions and making unfair assumptions. Plus, not all of those "gut feelings" are actually correct - sometimes they're informed by misinformation and our own personal biases.

So what does this mean? First of all, it means that your intuition can be a very, very powerful tool to have in almost every aspect of your life, and exercising it can increase those times when answers just seem to come to you out of nowhere. But it also means that you need to configure it correctly, or you might get a lot of bum answers.

So here are some techniques that seem to be pretty effective in sharpening one's intuition, especially when practiced regularly. Try them out and see if they work for you!

Interrogate your first impressions. Do you ever look at a place or a person and get a certain vibe? Does it take you all of a few seconds to be confident you're talking to a certain kind of person? When that happens, take the time to ask yourself what it is you might be seeing or hearing that's making you feel this way. Then ask yourself if this conclusion is actually rational, or whether you jumped to unfounded conclusions somewhere. (For example, does this situation give you the creeps because there is something genuinely creepy going on, or is it because the ambiance resembles another place where something creepy happened?) Doing this sort of thing seems to help you learn to identify and weed out nonfactors, which makes your intuition more accurate overall in the future.

Get into the practice of clearing out your preconceptions. Fictional characters are a great place to do this - think about the character traits and emotions that you believe them to have. Now, stop and ask yourself how many of them are actually in direct evidence, and how many of them you might be interpolating, projecting, or transferring onto them from prior experience or study. You can do the same for almost anything else that has traits and characteristics, too. Ask yourself what traits and characteristics actually have direct and immediate evidence for them (IE, what is there that firmly indicates the traits and characteristics you believe or suspect them to have), and which of them you might be reading into or projecting onto this thing (IE, those which have no direct evidence present, but that you are interpolating or inferring based on previous experiences and personal biases).

Always remember that equifinality is a thing. The term "equifinality" refers to the same outcome resulting from many different paths. It's always important to remember that most endpoints can come about from a number of events and causes, and that you can't simply determine that it's the first one you think of without carefully ruling out any others. For example, many people who sound arrogant and self-absorbed genuinely are, but some are actually incredibly insecure and are overcompensating for it by trying too hard to seen relevant or be useful, and others easily get so focused on trying to communicate their deep and complex ideas to others that they fail to notice that they've completely dominated the conversation and that everyone else is getting bored with them.

Exercise your subconscious with activities that require quick, decisive judgments. Examples include fast-paced games, improvisational dance, and writing two characters arguing for different points as fast as you can. You can also check out development questionnaires and try to answer them as quickly as possible. Don't worry about answering right, wrong, or even well - just go with the first thing that comes to your mind.

Relax and take a slower approach sometimes. You might look at a character development question list and try to empty your mind as much as you can (don't worry about achieving perfect emptiness!), then consider each question and write down the first answer that comes to mind. You mind also try the creative exercises on this page. You can also play word association by yourself - whether with words in a book or on a screen, or with the names of objects you can see around you.

Study and observe how things work, and pay attention to why they work that way and what pushes them to work that way. The more you understand how and why things work the way they do - whether physics, government, social dynamics, etc. - the better your subconscious mind can simulate hypothetical situations. This is very useful in worldbuilding, plot development, and character creation.

Study and research everything. Look into history, nature, and science. Find out how something gets made, or research ways to make something. Find out how certain myths and legends evolved over history. Any time you see or hear an interesting tidbit, make a mental note of it. Remember, the more you pick up, the more you have to work with.

Be willing to update your knowledge and correct misinformation wherever possible. Remember GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. If your brain is given bad input, it's going to give you bad output. You can also avoid absorbing a lot of bad information in the first place by polishing up your logical reasoning skills and being wary of anything that sounds particularly fantastic, outrageous, or sensational. (Never forget, a little fact-checking never hurt anyone!)

You might also like:

How To Break Your Creative Blocks
How To Generate Ideas With Playing Cards
How To Make A Decision When Choosing Is Hard

Tips To Identify Hoaxes, Urban Legends, & Scaremongering
Not All Myths & Legends Are Based In Truth

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