Intuition and instinct are not synonymous. While the second gives shape to a conduct that allows us to survive; the first traces a deeper meaning into our species, endowing us with an inner voice that helps us make the best decisions. While these dimensions do not have a common origin, they both help us respond much better to daily challenges.
To better understand this difference, let’s think of two wonderful literary characters. Robinson Crusoe is a brave sailor from York who spends 28 years as a hermit on an island following a shipwreck. Eventually, he uses his most basic instincts to survive a risky and complex situation. For his part, Sherlock Holmes is the best model of mind accustomed to exploiting his detective instinct; those almost unconscious, intuitive and correct deductions with which to solve the most complex puzzles.
We apply these skills in our daily life in the same way, almost without realizing it. However, only intuition is characteristic of the human being. Knowing how to use both approaches in the best way and in our favor can help us to be successful with greater confidence, to better manage fears and stress, to use our experience and our skills to live a more meaningful life. Let’s see more data to follow.
Intuition and instinct: between biology and perception
Intuition and instinct are not synonymous, although we often make the mistake of using both terms indiscriminately. It is common to make use of them in those contexts where our feelings or emotions direct us in one direction or another. Phrases such as “instinct tells me that” and “my intuition tells me that” undoubtedly represent a clear example of this small conceptual error that is worth clarifying for our personal advantage.
What is instinct?
From a biological point of view, an instinct is an innate behavior. It is our inner needs and those behaviors that allow us to survive in a certain environment. Instincts such as conservation, protection, sociability, reproduction, cooperation or curiosity are fundamental faculties, which define not only human beings, but also most animals.
At this point, it is curious that, starting from the twentieth century and with the development of modern psychology, the concept of instinct begins to be seen as something annoying. As if this bond that united us to an almost wild version of the human being was a dimension that was better suppressed or disguised with other labels. In this way, figures like Abraham Maslow began popularizing terms such as “desire” or “motivation”, as a symbol of these internal needs in each of us.
Now in the 21st century, this conception has changed. The combination of intuition and instinct is once again highly appreciated. And, as far as the last dimension is concerned, the reformulation that is made of instinct is interesting and revealing. Names like Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, an influential clinical psychologist and author of The Genius of Instinct, tell us that instincts are neither dark nor primitive. They are not something to repress.
If we learn to use them in our favor, we could manage factors such as stress or fear much better. Furthermore, strengthening instincts such as compassion, caring for others or kindness will allow us to create richer and more meaningful environments. Because the instinct for compassion, or kindness, exists in each of us, just as a study by Professor Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley reveals .
What is intuition?
There are those who think that intuition is a set of sensations that gives us a clue about something. Well, it must be said that this dimension does not respond to magical processes or sensory perceptions. It is more a question of “cognitive perceptions”. Carl Jung himself defined the intuitive person as someone who can precede certain events or situations using their own unconscious material.
- This unconscious material is the result of all that we are, of all that we have lived, seen and experienced. It is the essence of our being. It is like a chest of compressed information that the brain draws on to get quick answers. Those that do not pass through the filter of an objective analysis.
- Experts tell us that being guided by intuition is positive and advisable. Researchers from the University of New South Wales have carried out a study in which they have shown that paying attention to this inner voice can help us in our decision-making processes.
- Psychologists Galang Lufityanto, Chris Donkin, and Joel Pearson published their findings in the journal Psychological Science. In this paper they come to a conclusion that the scientific world and the field of psychology had already proposed: making use of unconscious information allows us not only to make decisions more quickly, but also to lead a life more in accordance with our needs and ours. personality.
We know that intuition and instinct do not share the same origin: instinct has a biological basis, while intuition is the result of our experience and the acquisition of awareness. However, they both have an undeniable common purpose: to allow us to better adapt to our reality; survive effectively; anticipate dangers and shape a more fulfilling life. Let’s listen to them and put them at our service.