Why Can’t Psychics Guess Your Name?

June 15th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

“If you’re really psychic, then go ahead and tell me my name.  Or guess how many children I have.  Or tell me what I ate for breakfast this morning.”

Most so-called psychics can’t accurately pick up specific personal information about you, so how can they possibly call themselves psychic?

This question stems from a misunderstanding of how psychic/intuitive perception works.  That’s a polite way of stating that this is actually a dumb question.  :)

OK, it’s not a totally dumb question, but it is a very misinformed one.  Like your five basic senses, your sixth sense isn’t limitless.  It has fascinating potential, but it’s nowhere near omniscient.

If I were to pose equivalent challenges about our five basic senses, they’d come out sounding like this:

  • If you really have 20/20 vision, then tell me what books are on my bookshelf.
  • If you really possess the ability to hear sound, then tell me what music I’m listening to.
  • If you can really feel temperature differences, then tell me the temperature in my office.
  • If you can really taste, then tell me what I ate for breakfast this morning.
  • If you can really smell, then tell me the scent of the candle burning on my desk right now.

You can’t answer these challenges because we aren’t collocated.  These are dumb challenges because they’re based on a lack of understanding of the capabilities of human sense perceptions.  Due to a similar form of ignorance, people often make similar challenges of those who claim to have developed their sixth sense.

Our five basic senses have some major limitations.  We can only see, hear, touch, taste, and smell a tiny portion of what is visible, audible, tactile, tastable, and scented.  Even when we can sense something clearly, we can’t always identify it.  And even when we do identify it, sometimes we’re wrong.

Our sixth sense has similar limitations.  Just because someone has developed their psychic abilities to a high degree doesn’t mean they can accurately perceive what lies outside their perceptual field.  And even what falls within their perceptions might not be perceived or understood accurately.

Many people who attempt to tap into their intuition soon give up because it doesn’t always work.  Yet we’d consider it foolish to abandon vision just because we can’t see around corners.  If you consider all that’s visible in the world, we’re far more blind than we are sighted.  Psychic perceptions are no different.

Noise is an issue with all six of our senses.  Through years of practice we learn to tune out visual clutter and identify specific objects.  We learn to tune into specific voices in a crowded room.  We learn that if we put five different foods in our mouths at once, the flavors will blend together.  Other people teach us how to make sense of our perceptions as we mature.  They teach us how to label these perceptions so we can even discuss them intelligently.  But this social education is largely lacking when it comes to psychic development.

A baby can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, but it can’t make much sense of what’s coming through.  It also can’t communicate very well with other babies who have similar perceptions.  All it sees is a bundle of confusing signals.  It can make out a handful of clear signals, like its mother’s voice, but even then it still doesn’t know what she’s actually saying.

Most of us remain psychic infants.  Our psychic perceptual channel is clogged with a confusing jumble of noise.  It’s too nonsensical and inaccurate to be trusted, so we simply discount it.  But the raw perceptual ability remains sound.  We just need to learn how to tap into it.

People who’ve developed their sixth sense well beyond the infant level are often labeled “psychic.”  But that’s like labeling someone “sighted.”  I’m supposedly sighted, but I’m also colorblind, so my ability in this area is limited compared to someone with accurate color vision.  And how many of us have 20/20 vision or better without corrective lenses or surgery?  As with all our senses, our perceptual ability is more a matter of degree than of essence.

Our senses clearly develop with education.  Examples of sensory education abound:  music, wine tasting, botany, massage, etc.  Pick a sense you’d like to develop, and you’ll find entire fields devoted to its enhancement and appreciation.

How do we develop our sixth sense?  We can do it the same way we develop our other senses – through education, practice, and experimentation.  We can read books and learn from others with highly developed psychic skills.  We can consult our intuition on a daily basis to improve our accuracy.  And we can experiment to gain an understanding of the boundaries.

The first step is to commit to developing our sixth sense.  Not everyone really wants to push their psychic development, just as very few people will commit to becoming master musicians.  But at the very least, it’s wise to reach a basic level of competency.  It’s very helpful to have a sense of intuition that’s accurate enough to be trusted.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the results of developing my intuition over a period of years.  I believe the main benefit of intuition is that it helps me make more accurate decisions.  That’s a huge benefit if you think about it because decisions create results.  If you can make just slightly better decisions in your life, you’ll see measurable improvements in your results.  In building and growing this web business, for example, very few of my choices turned out to be mistakes in retrospect (in terms of the results I was aiming for).  My sixth sense helped me decide which house to buy, which gym to join, which friendships to pursue, which articles to write, etc.  In all areas of my life, I’m either right where I want to be, or I’m making measurable progress towards a clear goal.  Overall my life is going amazingly well, and I think much of the credit goes to my intuition.  Developing my intuition to the point where I could trust it to help me make decisions was a powerful milestone for me.

Try not to discount your own psychic development just because you currently perceive nothing but noise.  There are clear signals out there — you just have to learn to tune your antenna.


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