Chapter 2: The Technology of Intuition
Now that we know what a powerful guiding system Intuition is, Gavin de Becker teaches us how to use it.
de Becker starts this chapter off with the true-life event of Robert Thompson. He walked into a convenience store, unconsciously read fear on the employee’s face behind the counter, and walked right back out. This action saved his life, because the next person who walked in, a police officer, was shot a killed in this convenience store’s robbery. de Becker processed this incident with Thompson to find out just what exactly made him leave the store that day. One – there was only one car in the parking lot and it had a person sitting in it and the car was still running. Two – the clerk was focused on a customer who was wearing a big heavy jacket even thought it was summer. Three – when the clerk saw Thompson, he saw a flash of fear cross his face. Without even realizing it, Thompson’s intuition took over and saved his life. de Becker says in this chapter, “Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why.” I love that quote.
Diane Ackerman, the author of A Natural History of the Senses, compares Intuition to a good stage hand who get’s on with it’s work while we’re busy acting out our scenes. Brilliant. Intuition evaluates context and is very basic.
de Becker says that after years of praising Intuition as the “cornerstone of safety,” he discovered that the root of the work intuition means “to guard, to protect.” He states that a lot of times people trust the instincts of the animals in their life, than their own instincts, when in reality human’s intuitive abilities are far superior. Animals can only react to fear in humans and cannot add context to their experiences. I know that my parent’s dog, Minni, hated my grandma. We used to joke that she could sense evil (sorry grandma, may you rest in peace). Now I realize that Minni was probably just reacting to how we all felt about grandma. Uneasy, ready for a verbal attack, uncomfortable, and she manifested this in barking whereas we manifested it in passive aggressiveness. de Becker says the biggest difference between animals and humans is humans have judgement that obstructs our perceptions and intuition. de Becker states:
With judgement comes the ability to disregard your intuition unless you can explain it logically, the eagerness to judge and convict our feelings rather than honor them. [Animals] are not distracted by the way things could be, use to be, or should be. [Animals] perceive only what is. Our reliance on the intuition of dogs is often a way to find permission to have an opinion we might otherwise be forced to call (God forbid) unsubstantiated. Can you imagine an animal reacting to the gift of fear the way some people do, with annoyance and disdain instead of attention? No animal, suddenly overcome with fear, would spend any of its mental energy thinking, “it’s probably nothing.”
I remember de Becker talking about this on “Oprah.” He talked about an example of a woman standing outside of an elevator when the doors open and she sees a man in there she is in instant fear of. No animal would get inside a steel, sound-proof compartment with another animal it fears. And yet, women talk themselves out of their gut feelings, and instead of appearing rude by not getting on the elevator alone with a man they fear, they get inside and risk their own safety.
de Becker talks about how victims often state that they unconsciously knew they were in danger and yet refused the gift of fear. After the fact they can recall the hundreds of signals given alerting them to the danger and yet they ignored it. One person states about the denial we use to discount our intuition says, “it’s like waking up in your house with a room full of smoke, opening the window to let the smoke out, and then going back to bed.” Once we can overcome the denial of our intuition, we can use it to our advantage to predict the routine behavior of other adults.
In the next chapter, de Becker delves further in prediction.