Intuition is real. Vibes are real. Energy doesn’t lie. Tune in.
This is actually called thin slicing. Your brain recognizes patterns from very small “slices” of information by comparing them to things you have experienced before. This all happens very quickly on a subconscious level without our conscious mind being involved. So intuition is actually really fast pattern recognition, and it can be very accurate. So yeah, if you have a gut feeling that a person or situation is not good, get the hell out. Your brain knows what’s up.
When I was young – because I’ve always been a big skeptical pain in the ass – I thought that when people were talking about interpersonal “energy,” they were on some Gay Ass Shit.
Years later, after spending hundreds of hours reading studies about intuition and neuroscience and pattern recognition and the processing power of the subconscious mind, I realized that that kind of talk – “she has such good energy,” “you need to read the energy of the room,” “I just got some really bad energy off of that guy” – is a convenient shorthand for the lightning-fast, weirdly-accurate, real-as-fuck subconscious processing of the probability of positive or negative social outcomes likely to result from hundreds or thousands of variables. That “energy” isn’t a tangible thing floating around in the air. It’s your brain updating you constantly with information about your situation. Listen to it. Especially if it’s telling you to be nervous or scared. Your brain is very good at recognizing danger. Let the enormous processing power of your subconscious mind protect you. It’s better at spotting patterns than you are.
“Bad energy” isn’t some hippie shit. It’s your brain setting off a claxon because it knows something’s not right.
Thin slicing is wonderfully helpful, but be aware that if it’s doing its pattern recognition from bad sources, you need to actively override it. We’re raised in a racist society, inundated with racist media, and bombarded with subtly (or unsubtly) racist advice. Thin slicing can save your life, but it’s also the cause behind the unconscious elements of racism (and misogyny/ableism/antisemitism/islamophobia/etc.) that we all suffer from
Trust your instincts, but if your instincts tell you something that seems prejudicial, double check their work.
Might I recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker, a book about this entire concept and how it can, has, and will save women’s lives.