Intuition causes gut reactions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 1994, 12:00am

YOU have experienced it at least once in your life: you have met someone and, without knowing a thing about the person, taken an immediate dislike to him or her.

Or you have felt an instant rapport with someone right after exchanging 'hellos'.

These are gut reactions, and they tell us more about ourselves than about the people who inspire them.

'It's our intuition kicking in,' says Steve Bercov, a mental health counsellor.

What we are feeling are 'the things we know but that we're not (consciously) aware of,' he says.

For example, a new acquaintance may remind us of 'someone or something in our past that brought us pain or joy,' says Lorisa Lewis, another counsellor.

That reminder can come instantaneously because 'we give off a lot of messages about who we are in our body language, the gestures we use, the way we speak, the way we hold ourselves,' Ms Lewis says.

Or a new acquaintance may display a behaviour that triggers awareness of our 'shadow selves.' Oooooo . . . sounds vaguely sinister, but the shadow self is just a concept developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to explain 'the parts of ourselves that we're not aware of because we don't like them,' Mr Bercov explains.

'When we're young, we form opinions about behaviour that we like and don't like,' he says. 'When we see these behaviours in other people, we have lots of judgments about them.' Obviously, not all our reactions to others are based on our own behaviours.

'Certainly there are times that we just don't like something about somebody else,' says Ms Lewis.

'An example is somebody who's blatantly dishonest and steals. It doesn't take me long to figure out that I don't like the person, but it's not because I'm dishonest and steal. It's because their behaviour goes against my beliefs.' However, Ms Lewis says: 'More often than not, there is something in the other person that's striking something in us. Maybe that something isn't so much a characteristic that we have as something we wonder if we have.' For instance, we may suspect we are vain, so when we see vanity in someone else, we find it irritating.

Of course, our gut reactions can be positive as well as negative.

When we feel an instant bonding with someone, an immediate liking for a person we just met, we are responding to 'the things we see in others that we like about ourselves,' Mr Bercov says.

In addition, we may feel an affinity for someone who has traits we would like to have but do not - be it charm, humour, or something else.

'We think that if we just hang around them, that (trait) will rub off on us,' he says.