Isn’t it a beautiful moment of victory when you yell out:
“I knew it!!”
You yourself are surprised by how you knew it. You start to think that you might possess some divine sensations or that you could be a psychic. The more possible explanation, though, is that your intuition guided you to know it… But how?
All of us encounter this “gut feeling”, whether it is about people, a place, or about your own destiny. Sometimes, we commit the worst mistake of not taking those gut feelings seriously. That could possibly be because we can’t find a logical explanation to our inner voice.
We squeeze our Pre-frontal Cortex in hope to understand where this inner voice comes from. What we should squeeze instead is our Amygdala, located in our Limbic System, which consist of brain structures mainly involved in our emotions, motivations, and pleasure.
This how our limbic system looks like:
Our amygdala determines what and where memories are stored in the brain, based on “how huge an emotional response an event invokes” (biology.about.com).
Okay, why might our amygdala be the master-mind behind our “I knew it” moments?
Let’s say you meet this person — let’s call him Sam — who you just cannot stand the sight of. Your inner voice tells you to stay away from him, but you can’t figure out why. You can’t recall seeing this person, but… your amygdala does.
Your amygdala tells you that this is the same person who bullied you in middle school, so stay away from him.
What happened here is that you couldn’t consciously remember Sam, however, your amygdala clearly remembers him.
What until you check out the following story.
According to a study done by Claparede(1911) mentioned in Feinstein, Duff, and Tranel’s article, an amnesic patient, who has memory loss, was approached by a man who hid a pin between his fingers. The man shook hands with the amnesic patient, which elicited some pain in the patient.
The patient is amnesic, right? So, she can’t possibly remember the man who hurt her…
Nope, she actually did!
When the amnesic patient was approached once more by the man who hid the pin, the patient refused to shake his hands! When the patient was asked why she didn’t want to shake his hand, she wasn’t able to give a reason.
How amazing is that?
The patient refused to shake the man’s hands because her “inner voice” told her not to. Her amygdala stored the unpleasant memory of getting hurt and let the patient act accordingly.
The amnesic patient’s inner voice saved her from getting hurt… doesn’t your inner voice do the same?
Our second powerful inner voice (aka the unconscious mind) :
The amount of the information we process daily is enormous! But, do you know what the scariest, yet mind-blowing finding is? You are not even aware of most of the information you process daily!
One of my all-time favourite quotes is the Chinese Proverb:
“Two-thirds of what we see is behind our eyes.”
We usually see what we want to see; or what our unconscious mind wants us to see. As the social psychologist David Myers suggests: Your unconscious mind is “’reading’ your surroundings” for you, as mentioned in Courtney Helgoe’s article. That’s why we could find ourselves resistant to someone or something without conscious awareness of why so. It might be because it reminds us of a previous incident or because it presents some kind of danger that we simply aren’t consciously aware of.
Point is: if I was asked to name two heroes, I would unhesitatingly name my amygdala and my unconscious mind, because they direct me to follow my inner voice and, in turn, make the best choices.
Your unconscious mind and amygdala have your back, so don’t you break it!
Appreciate your inner voice, listen to it, learn from it;
And embrace it.
For the full article about the amnesic patient who refused the handshake, click here.
For the full article about how your unconscious mind might be reading your surroundings for you, click here.