I have a frequently uneasy relationship with my intuition. Sometimes I know I know things, but the ever-logical side of my brain can’t quantify it and give good reasons for knowing it, so I doubt my instinctive reactions…until some circumstance proves me right.
Part of it is because of a longstanding fear of being unfair. I don’t want to use a negative first impression of somebody as an excuse for not taking the time to get to know them. First impressions can sometimes be wrong (haven’t we all had that experience?), and if you treat a new person you’ve met with hesitancy or suspicion, thinking you can’t trust them right from the start, it could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, I feel I need to be very careful not to justify a negative first impression based purely on something superficial, stereotypic or the result of anything I conjured up because I listened to someone else’s impressions of that new person rather than forming my own opinion. But, I remember reading a great paragraph once, written by the late Hugh Prather in his book Notes on Love and Courage (http://www.amazon.com/Notes-Love-Courage-Hugh-Prather/dp/0385127723/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1319736610&sr=1-1-catcorr), and it always makes me pause. He said:
“There may be some people who should be removed from my life the instant they enter it. However, there’s a difference between my dismissing a person because I am being controlled by some mindless, reflexive bias, and ridding my life of an individual whom I can see — because I am looking at him — bears me no good will.”
Whom I can see — because I am looking at him. Yes.
I had this experience again with someone recently. This person is socially very smooth. So smooth that I find myself doubting the manipulative things he/she does routinely, wondering if it was just my mistaken impression. If I’ve failed to give this individual the benefit of the doubt. If, somehow, I’m reading it all wrong. Yet, I know my reactions are not snap judgments. I trust what I’ve witnessed. I’ve been acquainted with this person for five years, and I’ve watched very carefully how he/she has behaved in a variety of situations. For every instance where I’m as certain as humanly possible that the intent was genuine, I could likewise point to a corresponding event where the scent of unmasked self-interest was as strong as perfume at a Chanel counter.
But what do I do with this knowledge? Sure, there’s a difference between a knee-jerk reaction to somebody’s behavior versus coming to accept the validity of my instincts because I’m really, truly looking at this person, but it isn’t as though having this proof of his/her insincerity and craftiness gives me pleasure. Would I have been better off trusting my intuition from the first and avoiding this individual altogether?
Perhaps. But life’s not black and white.
Unlike another person or two I’ve known, he/she isn’t so toxic that my core self is screaming for me to cut ties immediately. This person has some good qualities, too, and, on certain days, those positives overshadow the negatives and convince me that, while I don’t like this characteristic or that of his/her behavior, the manipulativeness may be so unconscious, so much a product of an insecure upbringing and other conspiring environmental factors, that I can almost forgive the behavior because I strongly sense it’s not intentional.
So, I wanted to ask: Do you trust your intuition immediately and above all else? Or do you tend to rely more on reasoning your way through your relationships? If you do both, have you found there are some circumstances that lend themselves better to one of those ways of knowing versus the other?
Looking forward to your thoughts and wishing you all a wonderful weekend!