There’s a lot of focus in the world on how clever, or not clever, we all are. Intelligence is a significant factor in our lives and when assessing ourselves and each other, from when we say our first words to whether or not we choose to go to university. While intellect and intelligent thinking are valuable to our society, they can also sometimes get in the way of other things in our lives. We can place too much focus on how our intellect can take us to new places, whether it’s getting a promotion at work or solving a problem, that we end up ignoring some of the other important thoughts and feelings that we should be paying attention to.

In particular, there are plenty of subconscious thoughts and processes that we ignore, don’t acknowledge or don’t even take the time to realize are there. Underneath our surface intelligence, there can be a lot more going on, which can provide us with new insights or perhaps a different type of intelligence. You might feel that you are very in tune with the logical side of yourself. Maybe you’re a very good problem solver or even a creative thinker when it comes to dealing with intellectual issues. However, there could be parts of yourself that you don’t know as much about and that you’re not as well connected to.

It’s not always possible to solve an issue or move past a situation in your life through problem solving and logical thinking. Sometimes you might need to be able to listen to your intuition and tap into a less conscious side of yourself. It’s important to offer space to your feelings, your emotions and your instincts to see if they have anything to tell you. There’s plenty of space for thinking logically and intelligently too, but it’s not always the best approach to a situation, event or problem. However, accessing the more intuitive part of yourself and putting it to good use is, ironically, not necessarily something that you instinctively know how to do. Most of us need to learn how to connect with this part of ourselves.

A lot of emphasis might be placed on “hard skills” and intellect, but we all have the part of our brain that helps us to sense and feel which actions could be right and wrong when responding to a situation. This type of thinking and feeling might not always be viewed as a strength, but it can prove to be in many ways. When you try to apply traditional problem solving techniques to something, you can discover that it doesn’t work. No matter how hard you try, you can’t find a resolution. You can keep researching and trying to tackle the problem from different angles, but it doesn’t make any difference. When this is happening, it’s time to start thinking about looking beyond intellect and finding other ways to approach the issue. Some of the problems and feelings that we face in life can’t be solved purely through intellect. We need to move beyond it if we want to find the answers that we’re looking for.

Your intellect can even be a barrier to finding the solution that you need. You’re focusing so much on how you can solve a problem intellectually that you’re using up all of your energy and high-level executive function doing it. But no matter how hard you try, it’s not working because you’re not approaching the situation in the right way. Sometimes, you might even know what it is that you’re looking for, or perhaps have an idea of what you should be thinking about. However, your rational, intellectual side keeps telling you that you should be ignoring it and thinking about something else. You come up with rational arguments that tell you why you shouldn’t be listening to the more intuitive part of yourself. It’s difficult to ignore your intellectual side because we place so much emphasis on it and how it should be used to solve all problems.

When you’re trying to put your intellect to one side and tune into a more subconscious part of yourself, it can be difficult. You’re struggling to turn off the logical side of yourself, and unsure about how to tap into that instinct that you want to listen to. You need to be able to access the side of your brain that allows you to listen to what you’re thinking and feeling, which will help you to communicate in a better way. You might already be part of the way there.

Perhaps you have a colleague who causes you to feel slightly uncomfortable or to slightly tense up, and you’re not sure why. When this type of feeling occurs, we call it shenpa. This is when a feeling hooks into you and can start to grow and bury its way in. Logically, you explain it away, rather than taking the time to examine what it might be. However, instead of trying to ignore this feeling or turn it into a problem with yourself or even the other person, you can examine it before it turns into something else. Left alone, it could create drama and conflict before you know it, and you might not even fully understand why.

If something like this is happening, it’s not because of the intellectual side of you. You can find it hard to recognize these feelings yourself, but they are often easier to spot in others. Learning how to recognize these feelings can help us to respond to them in the right way. Allowing yourself to understand this type of feeling means that you can see how it leads to further feelings and actions. It can give you the space you need to develop new skills that lead to an ability to make different choices.

Your intellectual brain can be useful in many situations, but it’s not always the first thing that you want to listen to. Moving beyond your most rational and logical thoughts can help you to see things from a new perspective.