299 How intuition can be used in crises

"In crisis situations, intuition is an ambiguous guide." Elsa Graf

In a crisis, natural intuition is an ambiguous, mostly dangerous advisor. It is included in all of our decisions due to the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition, which means that we can neither ignore it nor blindly follow it

Intuition has many forms

What do you call the impulse to act? Was that your gut feeling, your intuition or something completely different? With almost eight billion experts, all the people of this earth, it is a difficult undertaking to discuss intuition because we are all competent in this area.

A crisis is often seen as an opportunity or a spiritual experience. Without a doubt, that is correct. However, intuition should be understood before it becomes a valid decision maker.

We have different experiences and our own opinions, which often do not match the typical and mostly dubious explanatory models. In addition, intuition is effective in all decisions. It is its own conscious form of decision and also participates in all forms of decision.

That is why intuition is experienced so differently, and it is no wonder that discussions on this topic are sometimes difficult and sometimes escalate.

Intuition is always at work

So, our intuition is at work before the crisis; it is at work during the crisis and continues to be at work after the crisis. It is not a question, then, of whether we pay attention to it in the crisis, but only of how we deal with it. The first step is to clarify what intuition is.

Intuition is the process result of the emotional system and arises from the trilogy:

  1. external stimuli (Fig. 01: A.1)
  2. emotional arousal (Fig. 01: B)
  3. our emotions, the emotional neural programs (nePs). The nePs comprise the basic emotions, the composite emotions and nePs individually shaped from experience. (Fig.01: C)
KiE - How intuition is shaped
Figure 01: How intuition is shaped

In a crisis situation, all dimensions of the trilogy have a critical effect

The external stimuli (Fig.01: A.1) from the media outdo each other in the portrayal of hell and apocalypse to the blackest dystopias, which lead to the same internal stimuli (Fig.2: A.4) corresponding to the fantasies presented as well as to stressful physical feedback-cycles (Fig.01: B).

The unknown as an external or internal stimulus (Fig. 01: A1 and A.4) triggers fear as an neP (Fig. 01: C), which moves into rigidity. All nePs = emotions can be accompanied by unpleasant feelings (Fig.01: A.4) and stressful bodily feedback (Fig.01: A2), which further increase our emotional arousal (Fig.01: B). We can rely only very little on our experiences because we generally have very few crisis experiences in our nePs. If these are present, they are barely accessible, due to emotional arousal, or are distorted. Sometimes we love and sometimes we hate our colleague or partner. We decide differently under stress than we do if we take our time and keep our cool.  

The trilogy of stimulus, arousal and activated nePs is critical in all three components. In the cyclically organized neurological pathways, intuition escalates accordingly. We tend to repeat our mistakes in a crisis rather than check the facts with our cognition.

KiE - The vicious circle and the solution cycle
Figure 02: The vicious circle and the solution cycle

Intuition is more evident in crises

Due to our increased emotional arousal, we perceive intuition more clearly; at the same time, its quality is continuously deteriorating – a fatal cycle. The emotional motive of neP fear leads to rigidity and is just the opposite of what we need. In the crisis situation, we would have to adapt and look for new solutions.

KiE - The emotional arousal
Figure 03: The emotional arousal

In crises, we cannot rely on the intuition of our condensed experiences in the Emotion System. Intuition gives us clear impulses to act that are sometimes uncomfortable and difficult to take.  However, if the emotional arousal is too high, intuition alone can no longer be trusted.

To recognize this logic of the trilogy would be the sensible use of intuition, allowing us to find a clear implementation.

Crisis-experienced people do this “intuitively”. On the one hand, their emotional arousal increases less; on the other hand, they have more functional nePs and thus create less stressful internal stimuli.

Do not believe what you think

The intuition arising from the trilogy of stimulus, excitement and effect of the nePs = emotions creates the coherent world view (Fig.02: A.4). This conscious subjective perception acts again as an internal stimulus (Fig.02: A.4) in a cyclical process. This vicious cycle rarely leads to meaningful thoughts and is often very stressful.

This cycle is strengthened by means of justification and justifications are generated as a coherent world view, which in turn acts as an external stimulus that influences other people and can trigger loops in further interaction. Often, you’ve barely taken a breath and you have the justification ready that will inevitably spark an argument. Be aware that the Emotion System cannot speak, feel or otherwise communicate. When you hear a voice or see a picture, these are no longer your intuition.

With that in mind, don’t believe what you’re thinking as it comes from dysfunctional cycles.

Do not believe what you feel

The feedback loops (Fig.02: A.2) in the body also result in processes that become stressful and can further fuel the vicious circle.

In this sense, don’t trust what you feel because these feelings may have arisen from dysfunctional cycles.

Never ignore your intuition

With increasing emotional arousal, intuition becomes clearer. It should be recognized as the signal to break the vicious cycle and begin conscious thinking. To this end, the creation process is consciously designed from the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition in order to bring about appropriate decisions even in crises.

Cognitive, intuitive and emotional intelligence

The uncomfortable feeling that usually accompanies intuition is the signal to consciously shape the internal and external processes.

The Resource Question is the easiest way to escape the dysfunctional trilogy of stimulus, excitation and the effects of nePs = emotions.

The vicious circle, when “problem talk” amplifies the problems, can be transformed into “solution talk”. A resource-oriented question, such as “What would have to happen so that this ends well?” will generate a solution-oriented stimulus, activate functional nePs = emotions and lead the emotional arousal back into an appropriate area. This process, then, gives rise to solutions.

If the Resource Question no longer works, the components of the trilogy can be changed directly:

External stimuli – Put your smartphone or newspaper aside and look out the window or listen to your favorite song.

Internal stimuli – Think of an enjoyable situation.

Emotional arousal – Do mindfulness exercises; whatever helps, consciously breathe in and out a few times.

nePs = emotions – The emotional programs = emotions are biological synapse connections and only develop slowly. Be aware that functional nePs are difficult to develop in a crisis. Create an environment in which you can have positive experiences.

Use the KiE DecisionMaking Strategy – Make yourself aware that intuition knows neither exponential nor statistical processes. Obtain facts, expert opinions and reliable statements for the cognitive phase. Use these resources and facts as stimuli for the final phase of the requested intuition.

The natural DecisionMaking Process is also the way to make your intuition a reliable guide again.

KiE - The KiE DecisionMaking Strategy
Figure 04: The KiE DecisionMaking Strategy

Use the KiE DecisionMaking Strategy to create your supporting emotive-cognitive cycles.


August 2020 – Elsa Graf und Richard Graf

“In crisis situations, intuition is an ambiguous guide. Elsa Graf


Graf, Richard: Die neue Entscheidungskultur: mit gemeinsam getragenen Entscheidungen zum Erfolg. Carl Hanser Verlag GmbH Co KG, 2018

Bild: „Die stachelige Frau“ nach einer Idee von Richard Graf, Gemäldezyklus mit Prolog und fünf Szenen von Lea Gudrich

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