The Power of Intuition: 17 Civilians Saved by one Soldier’s Gut Feeling
I had been thinking about my friend, Bonnie, non-stop, or so it seemed, for a few days over the summer. I would be folding and sorting laundry musing, “This shirt is Jame’s, this one is Spencer’s, BONNIE, this one is Logan’s, Spencer’s again, BONNIE. No matter what I was doing, there she was right beside me.
Why, hello again, Bonnie!
While I hadn’t seen or talked with her in several months, she had been popping up in my random thoughts even more than Hawaiian dream getaways and salted caramel ice cream.
Low and behold, I walked into my chiropractor’s office a few days later and called out my typical “Hello!” down the long hallway toward the back of the building as I always do, and who comes walking out of the doctor’s office but my friend who had been haunting my every second thought. I imagine that she kept popping up in my subconscious because she was considering visiting a doctor that I had recommended, and had been thinking about me as well. How I sensed that, however, remains a mystery.
Does this type of thing happen to you, too?
It’s funny how many of us have that inner voice that, more often than not, we completely ignore. And yet, we shouldn’t since our intuition can help keep us safe, as well as help us better understand the actions and feelings of those around us.
If you’ll recall the post I wrote about the various Myers-Briggs personality types, Do You Know Who You Are? . . . Time to Find Out!, I’m an INFJ, meaning that a large part of my personal make up has to do with being intuitive. Before the phone rings, I’ll frequently sense that it’s going to, as well as have a good idea of who might be on the line. When someone calls with news, I sometimes know the gist of the story before they begin.
It’s not magic. It’s not paranormal. It’s a sixth sense that we all have – some perhaps more than others. It’s a form of unconscious information processing. And it’s about being aware, observant and allowing yourself to listen and connect the dots despite the fact that we’re taught to ignore the dots and, instead, move on to the next concrete person, place, or thing ahead of us.
As adults, we tend to flip the intuition switch to “off” perhaps because we know that intuition is not particularly valued or even believed to exist. As children, however, we’re more receptive to it.
I’ll never forget the time when we stopped at the Antietam battle field in Sharpsburg, Maryland on the way home from Washington DC 16 years ago. Our son, Logan, was only three. We hadn’t talked to him about what we were about to go see, and there weren’t any visible signs that would have given the significance of the spot away, merely a nondescript museum situated in a grassy field.
I unbuckled Logan from his booster seat and set him on the ground to follow his father up to the building. He didn’t take more than five steps across the field, however, until he stopped short and then came running back to me demanding to be picked up. “What’s up, Bud?” I asked as I hefted him up, unaccustomed as I was to carrying him around at that age. “Mommy, there are bad men under the ground!” he insisted in a whisper, pointing frantically toward the grass where the bloodiest battle ever to occur on US soil had taken place over one hundred years prior.
Somehow he just knew. He could sense it. As a child, he allowed himself to feel what we readily block out as adults, which can be to our detriment.
For years I worked long hours in a corporate setting, meaning that chores like shopping for Christmas gifts often were relegated to 7:00 at night on my way home from work. On one of those occasions, I decided to stop at Kohl’s to pick up a last-minute gift. I pulled into a parking space, unbuckled my seatbelt, and then literally felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise up. Before I knew what I was doing, I had thrown the car into drive, and had pulled away through the empty space ahead of me. My instincts had kicked in at just the right time, too, since a quick glance in my sideview mirror as I drove away revealed a man in a ski mask approaching in a crouched position next to the rear wheel of my car. I still get the willies thinking about it even now.
What warned me to take flight? A shadow? Seeing the man out of the corner of my eye and not even being aware of it? Or merely sensing danger so strongly that I physically forced myself to leave even without realizing I was doing it. I’ll never know for certain what the driving cause was, but I’m chalking it up to intuition.
There seem to be certain habits that intuitive people share. Among them are: carefully observing the world about them, being creative, deeply connecting with others, enjoying stillness and time to think, and listening their bodies in terms of their gut reactions. If you feel your intuitiveness slipping away, consider incorporating any or all of the above activities in your life a bit more than you currently do.
I’m not alone in my reliance on and belief in intuition. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Military has begun training courses for soldiers to tap into and improve their sixth sense while on combat missions.
The idea for the project comes in large part from the testimony of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who have reported an unexplained feeling of danger just before they encountered an enemy attack or ran into an improvised explosive device, Navy scientists said.
“Research in human pattern recognition and decision-making suggest that there is a ‘sixth sense’ through which humans can detect and act on unique patterns without consciously and intentionally analyzing them,” the Office of Naval Research said in an announcement late last month. The scientists managing the program — which the the naval research office is calling “revolutionary” — commonly refer to this mysterious perception as feeling one’s “Spidey sense” tingling, after the intuitive power of Spiderman.
“Evidence is accumulating that this capability, known as intuition or intuitive decision-making, enables the rapid detection of patterns in ambiguous, uncertain and time restricted information contexts,” the office said, citing numerous peer-reviewed studies in cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
A real life military scenario where intuition saved lives occurred in the Middle East not too long ago. Staff Sgt. Martin Richburg got an odd feeling about a man in an Iraqi cafe. Call it intuition if you’d like. He felt something was off with the patron, and sure enough he was right. After investigation, it was determined that the man had planted a bomb in the cafe, which they were able to disarm before it exploded. Richburg’s gut feeling saved 17 people’s lives that day alone.
If that isn’t enough to illustrate the power of intuition, I don’t know what is!
As a matter of fact, using intuition is one of the major ways in which people make decisions whether or not they are aware of it.
I know that’s the case with me.
I read a lot, I process the information, store it, and then when faced with a decision, internally call upon the prior input, however, I’m often unable to verbalize the detailed “whats” or “whys” of how I made the decision. I’d make a lousy attorney, standing before the jury and attempting to persuade them of my client’s innocence with a nonsensical “because I say so” argument.
That’s why I often marvel at people who are good debaters and are able to list off a string of facts to support their case. I, on the other hand, tend to completely clam up since my intuition is much stronger than my debating skills. I may be confident that my conclusion is correct, but I’m unable to regurgitate all of the input that went into making it and therefore I’m generally unable to support it in a verbal exchange.
Don’t let that fool you, though.
Despite my frequent silence during debates, let me assure you, that my inner “Spidey” is forever tingling in her web.
Do you ever experience your intuition kicking in?