[Interview with Business Insider] Intuition vs Over-Thinking in Relationships
- Being in love can mask our intuition and make us ignore warning signs.
- But sometimes, we may have a gut instinct something isn't right.
- It can be tricky to work out when you should listen to your intuition, or dismiss it as irrational.
- One way to try and work it out is to go for a walk and turn off your rational thoughts altogether.
- That way, your body might be able to come to a conclusion your mind couldn't.
In the fog of love, it can be easy to get carried away with the feelings of infatuation and ignore warning signs that someone might not be right for you.
Other times, you might have a niggling feeling in the back of your mind that something's amiss.
According to Jonathan Marshall, a relationship expert and psychotherapist, you should always be listening to this intuition.
"It's very easy to be dazzled by the other person's good looks, and charms, and other things," he told Business Insider. "Try to maintain one ear sensitive to your intuition, not necessarily going by that alone, but by simply being aware of it and listening to it. That little hunch — like 'he was a bit cruel just then' — don't just let it go."
One of the first things a narcissist or emotional manipulator will do is try and separate you from your own ability to listen to yourself. They will start to gaslight you, and train you to only take their word as the truth.
But not every relationship you get into will be with an abusive person, so how can you tell the difference between your gut telling you something important, and your mind getting carried away and obsessing over something unimportant?
"I think that's really hard," Marshall said. "I think it is ultimately about knowing yourself, and knowing that there are times when you're spinning your wheels, and sometimes you have a funny feeling."
He added that it's part of growing and learning to discriminate between the neurotic and obsessive thoughts and something you should actually listen to.
"Intuition, for any people, is less verbal and more silent and more textural," he said. "It's more of a sense, like a feeling or a vibe. Whereas the intellectualisation, and the over-analysis, it seems to me, is a lot more chatty. It is a lot more noisy... [Intuition] is not like the waves on the surface, it is more the tide beneath the waves."
Sometimes, if you have a hunch and you don't acknowledge it, this can send you brain in a spin too. In this case, it's usually a good idea to think about why you are obsessing over something, and whether there's something else you're ignoring that your mind is running away with.
Marshall spent some time researching how people make decisions. He spoke to a spectrum of people he considered great decision makers, such as a Fortune 50 vice president with a quarter of a billion dollar budget, and a very zen meditation teacher.
One trick he learned was to simply go for a walk. The idea is to distract yourself from your own thoughts, giving your body a chance to come to the conclusion for you.
"I'd go for a walk where I don't think about it at all, and normally by the end of the walk I can feel what the right answer is," Marshall said.
"I think the research is in favor of this. We do have a way of thinking which is the front part of our brains which is word oriented and discussive. And we also have a way of making decisions that is not like that at all — it's much more feeling oriented."
When you step out for a walk, there is no more rational work to be done. Your mind will want to go over and over the facts to come to some sort of logical conclusion, but sometimes that just doesn't work.
It will be hard at first to quieten your mind enough to abandon all rational thought, but once you do, you might just find your intuition shines through.