How many times have you ignored your own gut instincts? You go forward with something even though a niggling little part of your brain is telling you that something is wrong.
Then when things do go wrong, as your subconscious knew it would, the full force of your entire being regurgitates up a big fat "I knew it!"
Your heart's been broken, your money's been stolen, or your hopes have been dashed in some unforgivable way. The minute you encounter concrete proof that your gut was correct, you wonder why you ever doubted yourself in the first place.
It's been said that your intuition is the sum of all your senses. It's your brain working overtime while you're not looking.
Here's what happens: we're exposed to millions of messages every day. We can't consciously process them all, so our subconscious mind scans them, trying to figure out what's important and what's not. Your gray matter is fermenting all the factoids while you're worrying about other details.
That's why the moment you get confirmation of your instincts, your brain spits out the movie flashback version of all the bits of information it's collected in the ugly moment of truth when all the signs add up.
Many crime victims will claim they had a bad feeling beforehand. Their subconscious processed the averted eyes, shuffling feet, or anxious glance of the would-be perpetrator, but they overrode their instincts and paid the price.
The same thing happens in less dangerous situations, or at least less physically dangerous situations, the bad performance review from the boss who never made eye contact or overhearing ugly words from somebody who always rubbed you the wrong way. We've all had the experience of wishing we'd paid more attention to our own intuition.
Your gut knows how to make good decisions. Yet we often feel safer relying on logic or the opinions of other people, rather than letting our intestines make the call.
So how do you learn to trust your instincts? Some of it comes with age and experience. Prove yourself right a few times and you'll feel more confident about the value of intuition as a decision-making tool.
One method that works is to consciously separate the fact from emotion. If you have a bad feeling about something, it's OK to ignore the facts and just pay attention to how you feel. Women in particular are often very adept at picking up on subtle emotional cues.
One of my favorite gurus, money expert Dave Ramsey, says to men: If you meet with a financial planner and your wife says, "I don't like him," she doesn't have to give you a logical reason. Leave immediately. Don't hire the person. Ramsey says that women are processing things at a different level. They pick up on subtle cues that they may not be able to explain, but their intuition is usually right.
It's hard to break through the clutter and capture the real wisdom buried deep down inside. We learn to ignore our feelings because it's more acceptable to go with the status quo. But how many times have you gotten yourself in trouble because you ignored the bad vibes and second-guessed your own opinion?
Whether you believe it's a scientific sixth sense or a mystical connection to the divine, every person alive has the power of intuition.
All you have to do is quiet your mind and pay attention to your own inner knowing.
Lisa Earle McLeod is the author of "The Triangle of Truth," a Washington Post "Top Five Book for Leaders."