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Intuition and Prejudice

An article by Jennifer Halls

Raised in the North, I've lived in the South for 26 years. I consider myself open-minded; but I am ashamed to say I ran into my own prejudice at the grocery store on Inauguration Day.

I was at the checkout, hurrying a bit, trying to get home in time to see our new president get sworn in. The two women helping me check out, cashier and bagger, were white and audibly Southern.

I had brought my politically correct cloth bag and was loading it myself. The bagger was holding her hands, visibly dismayed that she couldn't help me. I assured her it was OK if she just stood there and looked pretty. She sort of blushed and said, "Do you know who looks pretty today? Michelle Obama. She has this beautiful golden dress on with gloves that match. I watched when I was on my break; she looks like Jackie Kennedy."

She looked thoughtful for a moment and added with a serious tone, "I am so happy for this new president." With a knowing look, the cashier nodded in enthusiastic agreement.

I happily nodded with them and showed no sign of shock, but I was. I didn't even realize it until that moment, but I expected these South Carolinians to smirk, bash or make racial comments about our new president.

It is embarrassing to realize I still have parts of me that are so small. But I'm now using experiences like this to inspect my hidden judgments and assumptions about people. I could be lofty here and say it's just what our new president wants us to do – I'm sure he does. What I know is that those women touched me deeply with their genuine regard for our new leaders. In doing so they shone a light into a dark place in me, and I am grateful.

So how does prejudice affect our intuition? Well, we all know that intuition is tricky to hear sometimes. One reason is that our biases and assumptions act like bullies; they are stronger so they simply push our intuitive selves aside. It’s easy to act through these stronger influences without even realizing it; one indicator is confusion. For the intuitively aware it will inevitably bring about the question, "Is this my head or my intuition talking?" For those who aren't focused on intuition, these entrenched thoughts and feelings can lead to automatic responses that repeatedly get undesired results.

Here's an example. Last weekend, my husband and I were picking a new restaurant from several on the same block. He sensibly suggested we try the one that was the nicest looking and had the most cars in the lot. My intuition told me it was not a good choice, but my bias argued, 'it does look nicer.' Once we entered both of us had an odd feeling but we sat down anyway. We then proceeded to have a long, mistake-filled and very expensive bad lunch. It wasn't a total loss however; we got validation for our intuition and were reminded of our biases.

You can learn a lot in fairly benign circumstances like choosing a restaurant, movie or an item at the grocery store. When a circumstance outwardly looks good (or bad) and your intuition whispers otherwise, pay attention and make a choice. You may choose to go against the intuitive tug, that’s ok, just note the feeling and outcome. Next time, your intuition might have a bigger say in your decision.

When intuition is given a voice the gift is wisdom and presence. It's a state of being that takes time, patience and practice. Or occasionally good fortune might shock you into that state through an unexpected touch of the heart.

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