When my husband and I shopped for our first house, we looked at more than 20 properties on the market. None of them seemed to fit our detailed checklist of the perfect home. I grew frustrated and called my mom. "Forget the list," she said. "When you walk in the front door of your house, you'll just know it." Three days later, as I stepped onto the slightly sloping porch of a charming 1926 Spanish stucco three-bedroom with our Realtor, I realized my mother was right. It had only one bathroom and desperately needed paint and a new air-conditioning unit, but somehow, I knew

Intuition, or a sixth sense, is something many of us rely on for snap judgments and often life-altering decisions. But what exactly is it? A 2008 study in the British Journal of Psychology defined intuition as what happens when the brain draws on past experiences and external cues to make a decision — but it happens so fast that the reaction is at an unconscious level.

But that's only part of it, says Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Guide to Intuitive Healing: Five Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness. "Just like the brain, there are neurotransmitters in the gut that can respond to environmental stimuli and emotions in the now — it's not just about past experiences," she says. When those neurotransmitters fire, you may feel the sensation of "butterflies" or uneasiness in your stomach. Researchers theorize that "gut instinct," which sends signals to your brain, plays a large role in intuition.
And contrary to common belief, it's not just women who harbor this mysterious instinct. "Men can be powerfully intuitive — they have the same capabilities as women," says Orloff. "But in our culture, we view intuition as something that's warm and fuzzy, or not masculine, so men have often lost touch with those feelings."
American women, on the other hand, are encouraged to be receptive to their inner thoughts, so it appears that they have more intuition than men, says Orloff. "The reality is, girls are praised for being sensitive while boys are urged to be more linear in their thinking rather than listening to their feelings," she says.

So how do you tune in? First, pay attention to your physical responses. "Maybe you're trying to decide if you should take a new job that pays twice the salary as your current one," says Orloff. "Your head says ‘Of course! That's a lot of money,' but you notice that you feel a little sick to your stomach or exhausted. That's an intuitive cue that you should step back and really examine the offer."
You also need to make sure you aren't mistaking strong emotions for intuition. "Fear, desire, and panic can all get in the way of intuition," says Orloff. "It's important to really focus on

Women are also better at expressing emotions through their facial expressions, tone of voice, and body, particularly positive emotions. Men are better at controlling felt emotions and at hiding emotions behind a "poker face." There is also evidence that women are seen as more empathic than men, and that they are more likely to see themselves as empathic. In other words, women tend to be more "open" to others' emotional messages. This may add to the perception that women have some special ability to intuit what others are feeling or thinking.
Where does this ability to read emotions come from? It has been suggested that it is mainly due to social power. Women, who have been historically lower in social power, spend more time observing and scrutinizing those in power (i.e., men, and powerful women), and become more attuned to their nonverbal cues. It has also been suggested that evolutionary elements have been involved, selecting females who have better ability to decode the needs of children and potential mates.
Remember that sex differences, such as skill in communicating emotions, are group-based, and that there are plenty of men who are skilled at reading others' emotions. Moreover, there is evidence that people can improve their nonverbal communication skill, particularly their ability to read and send emotional messages.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s like to be a woman. I’ve been thinking about the differences between men and women, the way we interpret the world and our feelings.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about femininity and sexuality, dating and sex. I've been thinking about those feelings we get when something's wrong and the innermost urges we all share. I may be just a delusional optimist, but after my 23 years of observation, I think women have special powers.
While I hopelessly wish we had the powers of transmutation and telekinesis, like the witches of "American Horror Story: Coven,” our powers are a lot more subtle; many have even downgraded it to more of a “sixth sense.” However you label it, it’s something very powerful.
What else can explain the way we feel and how we interpret things men just can’t seem to understand? What can explain that raw, gut feeling we get when we know something is wrong?
It’s that internal feeling, that prevailing thought that tells you something isn't right before any signs even appear. It’s a magical force that prevails in women way before men can catch on and has been catching men for years.

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It’s a woman's intuition and it may just be the most powerful force on earth.
I recently conducted some research to see if this raw feeling I had about the power of a woman’s intuition was just deluded thinking or it had real basis.
According to an article in Psychology Today, there’s research concluding that a woman's intuition is more fact than foolery.
Theories suggest that women have an enhanced ability at reading facial expressions and emotions; we are much more likely to pick up on subtle emotional messages and read things like tone of voice and body language much better than men.

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However, men are much better at controlling felt emotions and hiding emotional states than women (surprise, surprise).
These enhanced abilities of women came as the result of being domesticated and silenced as the “less powerful” in terms of social structure.
During historical times, when women were "seen and not heard," they developed a keen sense of observation, becoming more attuned to their own feelings and nonverbal cues.
They also suggested that it’s a product of evolutionary effects, where the women who had better ability to understand the needs of their children and potential spouses outproduced the women with the weaker senses.

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These abilities to read nonverbal cues lead to the feelings of betrayal, remorse and suspicion that many times arise in relationships for “no real reason.”
It’s the reason you get that horrible feeling when he doesn’t text you back for three hours and you know, deep in your gut, that it’s not because he forgot his phone.
It’s the way you know when your boyfriend is spooning you differently that something’s not right. It’s the spark to that gut-wrenching feeling when you know it’s going to end, when he’s pulling away, when he doesn’t love you anymore.
It’s the voice that can’t be silenced as your friends are giving you 100 rational reasons as to why he’s not cheating on you or how you’re being crazy.

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You try to ignore it, you tell yourself you’re crazy and your gut is simply an accomplice. It may take two hours, two days, two weeks or five goddamn years, but you always look back and realize your gut was right, that you should have just listened.
Like the witches of Miss Robichaux's Academy, it may also take us many years to learn how to harness the power of our intuition.
For years we didn’t even realize we had it, ignoring it and suppressing it as men broke our hearts and we thought we were surprised. But we’re older now and we must understand how to use it.
We must learn how to listen to it, harness it and act when it’s speaking. We need to follow its cues and to live our life accordingly.

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It’s a powerful force within us, and while many times it’s an unwelcomed visitor, it should always be received and respected. Because it’s a sign in a life where we don’t get many signs.
It’s the answer you wish you could get from the wind and the warning you wish someone could give you. It’s that spiritual connection you can’t get anywhere else, and it's the deepest connection you have with your innermost self.
As men continue to lie, cheat and betray, it’s time to acknowledge that a woman’s intuition isn’t just myth; it's one of the few honest things in our lives.

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