He captured my attention, right away.
I didn’t know why. All he was doing was leaning casually against a wall in the back of the room, hands in his pockets, chewing a piece of gum and looking down at his shoe. He certainly wasn’t someone I’d normally take special notice of; there was nothing about the way he looked or dressed or acted that stood out to me, and he was much older than anyone I’d be interested in, in a romantic sense. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to me. I remember wondering what it was about him that caught my eye and made me so curious.
I learned the hard way what “curiosity killed the cat” truly means.
As it turns out, Curiosity and Wonder are two of the “messengers of intuition,” according to Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear. His phrase has an ominous sound to it, as it should. These messengers are warnings. They are harbingers. A harbinger is something that indicates or foreshadows what is to come. That gives me a little shudder.
Several terrible months later when I looked back on that first moment I noticed him, he didn’t seem like some man leaning casually against a wall anymore. He seemed like an actor acting like he was just some man leaning casually against a wall. And THAT is what made me take notice, but that small fact remained under my awareness because he wasn’t on a stage, in a play, so I never made the connection. it was only enough to make me take notice and to become curious about my own reaction, which then (unfortunately) turned into curiosity about him.
W hy didn’t I get a clear danger signal? Isn’t our intuition supposed to alert us to threats? Yes, but the thing is this: It can only alert us to threats it knows about, ones we have experienced before or heard about from someone or read about somewhere.
My subconscious mind was well aware there was something off, something worth taking note of… yet it wasn’t alarmed enough to send a clear danger signal to my conscious mind. It was recognized as an unknown, which was only enough to cause me to take notice.
No one had told me about the red flags of psychopaths, which are often quite subtle. Those things were not yet in the files.
These harbingers, or “messengers of intuition,” are sometimes our only clue to some subtle red flag that slips by us.
Our intuition isn’t some magical, mysterious, and infallible ability we’re born with. In reality, intuition (or a ‘gut feeling’) is based on our knowledge and experience. Gut feelings seem like sudden, strong judgments whose origin we can’t seem to explain and that seem to emerge from a mysterious inner force, but in reality they don’t. Cognitive science found they actually begin with a perception of something outside ourselves, like a facial expression or a tone of voice. From there, our brain goes into a mode of using its built-in shortcuts. Intuition is an unconscious and lightening-fast associative process in which your brain takes in a situation, does a quick search of its files, and then finds its best match among all of your stored memories and knowledge. Based on what it finds, you ascribe meaning to the situation in front of you, including if something is a danger or not.
The subtle behavioral signals indicating someone might be a psychopath were not in my mind’s database of threats yet (although it did notice something was unusual), so I didn’t get a clear warning or see the danger right in front of me.
Curiosity is but one of the messengers, but remember that if your curiosity is engaged by someone—even though you may have had no interaction with them, and especially if they’re someone you wouldn’t usually take special notice of—take heed. This person may seem to have captured your attention even while doing the most mundane thing, and while not even seeming to notice you. You’ll wonder (another messenger) about this mysterious quality they have that so captured your attention even while they’re doing, seemingly, nothing. You’ll probably interpret it as meaning he or she is someone interesting, someone you should get to know better. The opposite is true.
What it really means is that subconsciously you detect they’re different in some way that may *possibly* make them a threat, but it’s one that isn’t clear or strong enough to register in your conscious mind as a threat—it’s only strong enough to capture your attention.
It’s important to remember the following messengers of intuition so that when you experience them you won’t ignore them, rationalize them or push them aside (or let anyone else encourage you to do so). You’ll see them as harbingers warning you of potential danger, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is.
THE MESSENGERS OF INTUITION
While we might notice fear, anxiety, a strong gut feeling or suspicion as signs of danger ahead, the others—curiosity, wonder, persistent thoughts (that aren’t negative in nature) and dark humor—may not come across as warnings. Watch for those and see them for what they are. Remember, too, that we can rationalize any of them away, and so can someone else.
Please be sure to read the article, Never Trust Your Gut…Unless it Tells You to RUN
♥ Did you notice any of the messengers of intuition early in your involvement with a psychopath? I’m especially interested in knowing if anyone had the sense of unwarranted or mysterious curiosity I had. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
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“I feel like I just had an epiphany.”
“This book told me in a very concise format what I haven’t learned from two years of very expensive psychoanalysis AND a Master’s degree in Counseling: I’m not crazy! My intuition was not wrong.”
“This book provides instant clarity.”
“Psych RN Rates phenomenal read. In metropolitan practice seeing lots of psychopathology for two plus decades. But I needed this refresher for MY life! Clear, concise, to the point and on target. Everything one needs to identify the behavior in a concrete way and hopefully extricate oneself from toxic relationships, not limited to intimate ones. Fellow readers, if you identify with this book, do seek emotional and/or spiritual counseling and do not allow yourself to be victimized. Bravo to the author.”