Intuition? Instincts? Gut Feelings?

While the terms intuition, instinct and gut-feelings are often used interchangeably, it’s important to understand the differences. Intuition or a gut-feeling is an understanding or knowing of a situation without specific data or evidence at the time; analytic reasoning is not part of the intuitive process. Instinct is an innate, hardwired tendency. For example, humans have biological, hardwired instincts for survival and reproduction.

 
For example, a former client of mine believed she had lost her intuitive ability. She explained that she had always had good “instincts” about things. She could make good decisions based on her intuitive sense and that since she decided to move to NYC she found she could no longer do this. When I asked her what evidence there was of this, she provided me with a laundry list of decisions that had gone awry.

 
The client mentally made a link between using her intuition and outcomes that she deemed as “good” or “successful”. She believed that if her intuition was on target, she would automatically have a good outcome. Conversely, when her decisions did not go as planned, she blamed herself and her intuitive abilities to get the outcome she wanted.


Like most of us, the client used a combination of known facts and data plus her gut feelings to make decisions. She was attempting to integrate both logic as well as intuition. Nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t always guarantee a successful outcome. Nor does it mean that one’s intuitive abilities are somehow “lost” because a situation doesn’t occur the way they had intended.