Illustration: Brian Cronin
In 1986 Susan King hit her head—hard—in a car accident. The result was more than a concussion. Afterward, when King looked at people, she saw images of events occurring in their lives and had flashes of insight about them. With uncanny knowledge of their situations, she has been able to advise clients on everything from job searches to divorce proceedings. King refers to her work as intuitive counseling, and though her vocation may seem rarefied, she believes that intuitive power is available to everyone. "To me it's our body's radar, helping us make all sorts of decisions—if only we're willing to pay attention."

My intuition has gone through a metamorphosis from the time I was a young child to where I am now. I used to just get feelings. I went from getting feelings to having dreams, to seeing symbols that meant things, to seeing things actually happening to other people, to feeling that what's happening to other people is happening to me.

Intuition is knowing without knowing. It's instinctively knowing something that you don't know how you know.

You meet people and you have a subconscious feeling: You like them or not. You trust them or you don't. And sometimes you stop and think, "Where does that come from? What is that?" I believe that just as we hear and see and smell and taste, this is another sense we have, but it's one we don't recognize. I think it's almost an animal sense that we've forgotten.

We were better at intuition in the past. With modern technology and the frantic pace of life, most people today spend their lives running. Never stopping to listen. There's no time for the mind to be quiet to listen to anything. And then when a problem comes: trauma. Because people are not in touch with themselves at all.

You have to incorporate in your day some quiet time to listen to that voice. If you don't, you won't hear it. But it's there. It's meant to guide us.

If you were to go out and meet somebody, spend an hour with them, and there was an attraction, and you came back home and wrote down the first thing you felt when you saw them, when they spoke to you, when they touched your shoulder—you may not realize it, but you'd find that you'd already built a subconscious profile of the person. We all have that capability, but we don't use it.

I'll tell you a group who uses intuition: people who do martial arts. They have to anticipate what their opponent's going to do. Remember Bruce Lee? Even people coming from behind, he could see. It's like he had eyes in the back of his head.

There are times when you get a feeling about something—say, 'I don't want to get on this flight'—and you wonder: 'Is it my anxiety, or is it real?' It's difficult to know what's fact or fiction. You can only judge over a period of time. You have to gain confidence in your ability to listen.

Number one, you can build up to 15 minutes a day of sitting and focusing on your breathing. So that you have quiet time to connect with your inner self.

Number two, every day, live the day and enjoy the day. Don't be anxious about, 'Is this gonna happen or is that gonna happen?' Walk through your day—don't run. Get a little notebook, a tiny thing that fits in your pocket. When you have a feeling about something, write it down. That way, when your feeling later turns out to have been correct, you can go back and see that your instincts were working. And that builds your confidence.

Next: 5 more things Susan King knows for sure about intuition
Intuition is like a muscle. You develop it the more you use it.

One of the worst things in life is indecision and confusion. It plagues everybody. But confusion is sometimes a blessing when it stops you from making a move, because sometimes you're not supposed to make a move.

I say to people, "You don't walk down stairs blindfolded, you don't drive a car blindfolded—why would you want to make massive life-changing decisions when you can't see what you're doing? You have to wait for clarity." So to me, confusion can be a kind of intuition: your body's way of saying, don't do anything right now—just go with the flow and the answer will come.

I've given lots of talks, to all kinds of groups, and sometimes you'll get people—usually men—who will say, "I think it's a load of old rubbish." And I'll say, "Well, that's your belief. I'm not here to change your belief."

The most important thing is just to trust it. Trust in your gut. Trust that first feeling you feel about something. Because that very first feeling is usually the right one.

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