Does anybody remember watching Curious George on TV as a kid?
In one episode, George found his way to the control center for the local railroad network. One of the recurring characters on the show explained to George how the complex train system worked, and how one operator at the control center was able to move all the switchers, relay information to and from the train engineers, and keep the schedule running smoothly. George was mystified.
Later on, for reasons I don’t recall, the train operator had to leave the room, and decided it would be a good idea to leave a fucking monkey alone at the controls. So naturally, things didn’t work out very well. George did his best to mind the controls. He watched the screen, and saw a situation that required someone to actuate a switcher to divert a train to another track. He understood the process well enough, so he did it.
This created another issue, which he also resolved. This carried on for a while. George did a great job for a monkey, but eventually, things spiraled out of control. Just before catastrophe struck, the operator returned to the room and corrected the situation, and everything was fine.
Each of us has, inside of us, a very similar configuration. Buried deep inside your brain is a small child sitting in a comfortable office chair in a dark room. There is no door, and a single overhead light shining on the child as he sits alone in the chair. A grid of dozens of widescreen monitors line the walls, casting pale light on the child. Various pieces of information flash across each of the screens. Beneath the floor is a powerful supercomputer that the child controls with a keyboard and mouse. The computer feeds information to the monitors that line the walls, each of them showing a different set of information.
The child spins in his chair and reads each of these monitors at lightning speed, internalizing and processing the information all at once. There’s a monitor for your eyes, one for your ears, and another for your nose. Your tongue has one, as do the biological gyros inside your ears that tell you where your body is oriented in 3D space.
There are monitors for every component of your nervous system; the nerves in your skin, in your teeth, running along your bones, through your muscles. There are monitors that display the functions of your heart, your lungs and other components of your autonomic nervous system. The child receives, analyzes and categorizes more information every hour than you could ever hope to memorize in your entire lifetime.
It gets even crazier.
The child doesn’t only process the information he receives in the moment. He also continually processes the information he’s received in the past. ALL of the past. There are many monitors for your memory, and they are among the most important. The child in the control room is constantly comparing the sensory input he’s receiving now with the sensory input he’s received in the past. He’s looking for similarities, identifying patterns, and predicting likely outcomes for the current situation. He’s constantly scanning for potential threats that could pose a hazard to the machine he’s been tasked with operating. Keeping the machine out of danger and operating normally is his #1 priority, and he’s damn good at making it happen.
The child in the control room is your subconscious. The machine he operates is your body, and he works tirelessly, 24 hours a day, from birth to death, to keep it working. He does this all for you, so that you can walk around, gather food, have fun, and live your life. And you’d better thank your lucky stars—every day you wake up alive—that the child in the control room is there for you. Can you imagine how much more exhausting your life would be if you constantly had to be handling that gargantuan list of tasks on top of your everyday life? You’d never have any time to get things done.
There’s one more component of this remarkably impressive setup that sits inside your braincase. On his head, the child wears a headset with a microphone. Into this microphone, he speaks to the machine he operates. It’s a very smart contraption, and possesses the capacity to respond to voice input from its operator.
The trouble is, the machine doesn’t really like to listen sometimes.
These voice inputs are what we call intuition.
This powerful force comes from your subconscious mind, the child in the control room. And it influences your life in the form of intuition.
The word “intuition” comes from the Latin word intueri, which means “to look inside.” Intuition is often described as a “gut feeling” or a “hunch.” It is that little voice inside your head that you sometimes hear but mostly ignore. It’s an inner knowing that goes beyond logic and reasoning.
What can your intuition do?
The voice inputs from your operator are among the most valuable pieces of information you’ll ever receive in your entire life. Your intuition can tell you which course of action is the best to take when you’re facing a crippling dilemma. You don’t think it, you feel it.
It can tell you if you’re wasting your time. It can tell you that you need to quit a job you hate. It can tell you the precise moment to laugh at someone’s joke, to kiss the girl, to punch someone in the face, or to turn around and run as fast as you can. It can lead you to the right person that you need to accomplish a goal. It can tell you exactly what to say to them, and how to say it.
Your intuition can also predict the future, often with a startling degree of accuracy. Intuition is often referred to as our sixth sense, because it seems to be connected to something outside of ourselves. While instinctive responses come from our animal nature, intuition comes from a higher source —one that knows us better than we know ourselves.
This higher source, the god within us, is rooted in our biology—a result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Intuition evolved over time as a way for humans to make quick decisions based on past experiences and information stored in the subconscious mind. Early humans relied on their intuition to survive in dangerous and unpredictable environments, making split-second decisions about potential threats and opportunities.
As human societies developed and became more complex, intuition continued to play an important role. It helps us to understand and respond to the emotional dynamics of social interactions, even if we are not consciously aware of it.
For example, when we meet someone for the first time, our intuition helps us to quickly assess their emotions, intentions, and motivations. Our subconscious processes also help us to interpret and respond to social cues, such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions, which are important for effective communication and building relationships.
By relying on our intuition and subconscious, we can make quick and effective decisions in social situations and improve our ability to connect with others on an emotional level.
What can your intuition do wrong?
Honestly, very little. Your brain is the most versatile, robust and powerful computer that has ever existed. When your intuition gives you information, it’s generally for a good reason, and the information is generally correct, or at least useful.
The problem is that the signals are coming from the part of your brain that thinks like a small child. Children are very emotional creatures, and that’s how they get their points across. They lack the life experience and verbal skills to construct a sophisticated argument, and so they have to instead rely on expressing their emotions to communicate.
These emotional expressions are very easy to misinterpret, particularly for people who are not well attuned to their own emotions. For example, one time, I was driving to apply to a new job. My subconscious was screaming at me to turn around and drive home. I probably wouldn’t get the job, I probably would hate it if I did get it, and it would just be an overall better decision to abandon my course. It was sending every signal it knew to get me to go home. I felt like I was going to vomit. My throat was so tight I thought my vocal cords would tear. I heard my heartbeat pounding in my head.
In the end, I ignored these signs and persisted in my course, because I understood what my intuition was telling me. My child in the control room was telling me how scared he was, but we both knew that the fear was a strong indicator that we were on the right path. I desperately wanted success, and my inner child wanted it too. We both knew that enduring discomfort and risking ignominious failure was a prerequisite for victory.
After the job interview, the terror vanished and was replaced with elation. It was one of the high points of my life, and launched me onto the career path that I enjoy today. If, however, I had misinterpreted the subconscious signals I was receiving and actually abandoned my path, I would have had a very different experience. I’d have gone home and been despondent, defeated and depressed for days, maybe weeks.
The point? Unpleasant sensations are not necessarily an indicator that you’re on the wrong path. Remember, your subconscious is the child in the control room. He’s perceptive, intelligent, and has access to a staggering amount of information. But he’s still a child, and children are, on top of being very easily frightened, highly emotional beings.
What are the consequences of failing to listen to your intuition?
The sheer capacity of your subconscious to process information borders on a superpower. However, this superpower has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, and our society is built around it. However, for the last hundred years or so, the rise of logic and reason have led to a war on our emotions.
Emotional people are often seen as weak, unstable and undesirable. We are, from the time we’re children, encouraged to be logical and rational. To make decisions based on rubrics, checklists and policies. As a result, we’re stamping out a big part of what it means to be human.
Personally, I ascribe this “character development” our society is undergoing as a significant contributing factor to the rise of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. People are absolutely miserable today. Happiness and life satisfaction have declined sharply over the last 10 years.
Another contributing factor to this is the startling degree to which normal human interactions have been replaced by our cell phones. This has led to a life of constant distractions and over-stimulation by modern technology and social media. People are constantly bombarded with information and notifications, making it difficult to focus and tune in to the inner wisdom their subconscious has to share. This makes it so much harder for people to listen to their inner voice, and to trust their gut feelings.
People today fail to heed their intuition, instead opting to ascribe to philosophies touted by social media stars and self-help gurus. Sometimes people don’t even notice their inner voice. We are cruel to ourselves for failing to measure up to the standards set by others. We allow others to be cruel to us for the same reason. We let others do our thinking for us—we let them decide what is good in life and what we should aspire to do and be. Our own desires, beliefs and feelings cease to matter, and meanwhile, the child in the control room feels increasingly isolated and alone. And we wonder why we as a society struggle with feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, and unfulfillment.
It’s critical that we as a society return to our roots and remember how powerful our brains really are.
What are the consequences of embracing your intuition and finding deep self-understanding?
Cultivating your intuition and creating a deep, cohesive bond with your child in the control room is a prerequisite for living your life to its fullest potential. It’s not required for living an average life, as evident by looking at the average individual. But imagine what “average” would look like if everybody were attuned to their subconscious and knew themselves well. What is average today would be a miserable existence by comparison.
Embracing your inner self and getting to know your child in the control room can and will lead to a range of overwhelmingly positive consequences. By learning to listen to yourself and heed your inner advice, you can achieve success to a higher degree in virtually every area of life. This will happen largely automatically as a direct result of you making decisions that align with your actual values and goals.
Perhaps even more importantly, embracing your intuition can help you discover your real mission in life. By connecting with your inner voice and values, you can gain a greater understanding of what is most important to you, and what you truly want to achieve. This can help you to set meaningful goals and to pursue your passions with greater clarity and purpose.
This is what Friedrich Nietzsche meant when he said “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” When you tap into the power of your subconscious and find your real “why,” you will never feel lost, confused, or intimidated by the big unknown. Even when you don’t exactly know what you need to do to accomplish your objectives, you’ll always have a North Star to walk towards.
With this inner voice guiding you towards your why, you’ll be able to endure almost any how. This is how you live a life filled with purpose, which leads to fulfillment and profound satisfaction, even in the moments of unhappiness and pain.
How to cultivate your intuition
Intuition is a powerful tool that can provide you with greater self-awareness, inner wisdom, and personal fulfillment. By connecting with your inner voice and values, you can make decisions that align with your goals and aspirations, and live a more authentic and meaningful life.
However, developing intuition—especially if you have grown significantly out of touch with it over the years—requires effort and dedication, as well as breaking free from the expectations of others. It’s a simple enough process, but it’s not always easy. Next, we’ll explore five concrete, actionable methods you can use to develop your intuition.
Listen to your brain
The child in the control room has a microphone that he can use to speak to you, but the voice you hear is quiet and often difficult to interpret. It’s like trying to listen to someone on your cell phone while walking through a bustling city square. There are thousands of people talking at once, advertisements playing in the background, cars driving by. You need to quiet this external noise to hear what your intuition has to say.
Do this by taking time to be quiet and contemplative. Do this however feels natural—meditation, going for a walk, or just lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. I’m a very kinesthetic person, so I like to get centered by moving my body. I find that the motion gets my upper brain out of itself and focused on something physical, allowing my intuition to more readily reach me. Try doing the same.
Go for a walk once a day. Additionally, take time out of every week to go be alone. If possible, find a secluded wilderness. Go for a hike, go set up a hammock or camp chair by a river, or sit by the ocean. Leave your phone at home, or at least silence your notifications. Allow yourself and your operator to relax and slow down for a bit. By giving yourself time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions, you can tap into your inner voice and gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
Take at least 10 minutes every day to quiet your mind and listen to what it has to say.
Journal every day
Keeping a journal can be a valuable tool for developing your intuition, as it allows you to reflect on your thoughts and emotions over time. By writing down your thoughts and feelings each day, you can gain a greater understanding of your patterns of thought and behavior, and identify areas for growth and improvement.
Revisiting your journal entries can also help you understand how your intuition has guided you in the past, and how you can continue to cultivate this connection in the future. Your conscious mind WILL forget about things, and reading your own words from the past is a great way to reconnect with your past self—and a great way to remember that you’re on a mission to create your future self.
I journal consistently throughout the day when I can, but when I can’t, I make sure to journal at the end of every day. I focus on what I did to advance my long-term goals on that day, and what I’m going to do to advance them the next day.
Create something for the sake of being creative
Engaging in creative activities is critical for allowing your child in the control room to express himself. This obviously means activities like creative writing, painting, sketching, sculpting, and similar traditional art forms. But it also means things like martial arts, dance, coding, creating/modding video games, or even working on engines.
Anything that requires your brain to come up with creative solutions to problems—to synthesize new ideas based on existing information—will help you find solutions to problems in other areas of your life. Allowing your subconscious to play and express itself will help to develop your intuition.
Take at least 30 minutes to be truly creative every single day.
Question everything that you’re told, even by those you greatly respect
Encouraging your intuition requires questioning everything that you are told, even by teachers and mentors you greatly respect. By thinking critically and independently, you can tap into your intuition and inner voice, and make decisions that align with your values and goals.
Beyond this, however, you also give your child in the control room the feeling that he matters and is important to your success. Everybody does better work when they feel that their work matters. By tasking your subconscious with challenging your assumptions and beliefs, you awaken a level of insight and self-awareness that will take you to amazing places.
Take time every week to analyze what you learned during the week and validate it. I do this with a long journaling session on Sundays.
Get comfortable with doing things that other people don’t approve of, particularly those people whose opinion of you matters greatly
Get comfortable with doing things that others don’t approve of. This doesn’t help you develop your intuition directly, but it does destroy one of the things that cripples your intuition the most completely. The child in the control room, as well as you yourself, are very sensitive to the opinions of other people. This is normal—you evolved that way. When humans were in their early days, being thrown out of the tribe was equivalent to a death sentence, and we were conditioned for hundreds of thousands of years to avoid ostracism by any means necessary.
However, being different from the rest of the members of our tribe is no longer a significant risk to our survival. In fact, it’s a prerequisite for being any kind of exceptional. By breaking free from the expectations of others, you allow your intuition and inner voice to give you valuable input that isn’t tainted by your desire for approval. This allows you to live a more authentic and fulfilling life.
Breaking expectations may mean pursuing your passions and goals, even if others don’t understand or approve of them. It may also mean making decisions that align with your personal values, rather than conforming to societal norms. Breaking free of your desire for the approval of others is not a one-time event, and takes many years to do. You’ll never be completely free of it, but with a little time and effort, you can get to the point where you’re able to act in spite of it.
This is another objective that is served well by journaling. When you catch yourself copping out to avoid rocking the boat, drawing attention to yourself, or risking ridicule, take note of it. When you catch yourself having those thoughts in the moment, try to intentionally act in opposition to them. Force yourself to take risks to whatever extent you’re able, and over time, you’ll find your ability to act forthrightly and without reservation growing stronger.
By connecting with our inner voice and values, we can make decisions that align with our goals and aspirations, and live a more authentic and meaningful life. By following these five tips for developing your intuition, you can cultivate a deeper connection with your child in the control room. With time and patience, you’ll hear his voice whispering in your mind, telling you what you need to hear. Work diligently to get in touch with that voice again. The rewards for doing so are immeasurable.
Intuition is a valuable tool that can provide us with greater self-awareness, inner wisdom, and personal fulfillment. You have it within you right now, this superpower. And all you need to do to use it is…