One morning, as I entered the hallway, I encountered a tall, slender man in a black suit with a brightly colored shirt and tie. As I passed him, this message entered my head:
“Go back and lock your door.”But I dismissed the thought, consciously choosing to ignore the signal my intuition was trying to send me. I rationalized that I was being paranoid simply because this fellow’s appearance was quite different from other business people who entered our building.
When I returned to my office, I got back to the task at hand. About 15 minutes later, my phone rang. A woman who identified herself as “Sandy,” a teller with my bank, said that someone had just tried to use my ATM card to withdraw money from my account. I always kept my ATM card in my wallet, so I whirled around in my chair and grabbed my purse. My wallet was gone!
I thought back to the man I passed in the hallway. I realized he had been waiting for me to enter the restroom, so he could slip into my office and steal my wallet. I also recalled seeing an unfamiliar woman outside the ladies’ room earlier that day. My stomach turned flips as I pieced together what happened. She had been monitoring my actions to determine when they could take advantage of my absence from my office.
My mind was racing and my emotions were ablaze as Sandy was telling me that there had been three unsuccessful attempts to use my ATM card. She said the bank could reset my PIN if I just told her my old one. In this state of being unnerved by the theft, I wracked my brain to come up with the 4-digit code and gave it to her, never questioning the wisdom of giving out that confidential piece of information.
After hanging up, I immediately cancelled my credit card. Then I decided to call the bank to find out if they had a camera on their ATM drive-through. Maybe they got the thieves on camera? To my horror, I learned there was no Sandy at the bank. The thieves had impersonated my bank so they could get my PIN number and withdraw money from my bank account.
Fortunately, I had a terrific bank, and they restored the money that had been withdrawn from my account. And the credit card company credited back the few charges that the thieves had time to make before I cancelled the card.
But still, the experience haunted me for weeks. If only I had not ignored the clear signal that my intuition had tried to send me about the stranger I’d encountered. Somehow, my body and mind knew before I did that this was a person not to be trusted.
Even though this incident happened several years ago, I recalled it in vivid detail recently as I was reading The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker. De Becker, one of the nation’s leading experts on violent behavior, describes the importance of trusting your intuition when it comes to assessing dangerous situations and people.
He offers this explanation of intuition’s ability to inform us instantly in unsafe situations while an analytical approach falls short:
“What many want to dismiss as a coincidence or a gut feeling is in fact a cognitive process, faster than we recognize and far different from the familiar step-by-step thinking we rely on so willingly. We think conscious thought is somehow better, when in fact, intuition is soaring flight compared to the plodding of logic. Nature’s greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is never more efficient or invested than when its host is at risk. Then, intuition is catapulted to another level entirely, a height at which it can accurately be called graceful, even miraculous. Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. It is knowing without knowing why.”The next time your inner voice speaks to you, pay attention. There may be a warning or simply a message that you need to hear. And even better, read this book. Your safety may depend on it one day.
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Albert Einstein, American physicist (1879-1955)