Intuition is an internal guidance system we have developed over millions of years of existence. But now with quick-fix to-go gadgets like GPS, social media and Google, we forget to check-in with our gut before making choices. These tech gadgets might be perfect for finding your way to a restaurant, but if it’s your authentic life path you’re looking for, knowing how to follow your intuition will be much more important.
What is intuition?
The brain has 2 super different ways of working.
The first way has been around as long as humans. Back in caveman days, this instinctual, almost subconscious way of thinking became highly developed to protect humans from harm. Instinct was what helped keep people safe. Decisions were made fast and without rationalizing. Instinct called the shots when it came to not being eaten by caveman time wolves.
The second way of working is much slower and analytical. It thinks things through extensively to take good, well-thought-out decisions. In our modern times, it is usually how we choose what’s right for us.
So, although we now mostly use the second way, tones of scientific studies have shown that our instincts tend to make better decisions. This first way of thinking can more often choose a course of action that will make us happier or even accurately choose correct answers more often.
This one experiment I read about demonstrates the value of intuition quite clearly. There are 2 decks of cards. Participants have to choose a deck that will allow them to make the most money. Deck 1 has higher chances of winning, but then higher losses. Deck 2 has lower chances of winning, but almost no losses. After seeing about 50 cards most people could guess that deck 2 was a better choice. But the funny thing is that after only about 10 cards, participants’ hands would start sweating when they chose a card from deck 1. Their bodies were reacting to the knowledge of their instincts.
My intuition guru
A few years ago, I had the kick-ass opportunity to work very closely with a boss that I valued a lot, not only as a superior but as a friend, as a woman and even just as a human being. She had qualities and strengths that I valued a ton, and just thought she did a good job at life.
One quality of hers that especially spoke to me was her strong sense of intuition. I suppose that at the time, I started to notice that I had a hard time hearing what the instinctual part of my brain said to me. And even when I did it, I ignored it. I didn’t trust it. Surely others knew what I should do in different situations better than I did. Well, others or Google, people on social media or my extensive pros and cons lists.
This boss had the beautiful quality of not only casually following what her gut told her, but bulldozing towards ideas or plans that her insides screamed at her to do. Her intuition spoke to her and loudly. It was truly motivating to see how much she trusted her gut.
I quickly decided that I would take advantage of the time that I would spend working so closely with her to develop that skill within myself. I wanted to be able to hear what my insides said about my path and my choices. When different situations arose, I wanted to be able to feel, hear and just know what my gut was saying.
So I embarked on a year-long task of learning to hear and trust my intuition.
Because we worked together, it was easiest to learn more about how she did this within work contexts. So I used those a lot. I listened to how she spoke about knowing what was right for her. She also spoke of knowing when to trust certain people or not based on how they made her feel. I was inspired.
Let me tell you about some of the key things I learned so that you too can embark on this journey to learn to follow your intuition.
How to develop intuition
Here ate the top four things I learned in my year of working on my own intuition. I hope it serves to help you develop your own.
1 Know that only you know
It quickly became clear to me that the key to hearing your intuition is knowing that only you will hear it. Others will only hear what their inner-guide is telling them about what would be right for them. You have to be the one to make the choices for your life.
You have your own goals, values, ideologies, qualities, and interests, so only you can know what the right path for you is.
If you ask others, they will tell you what the right choice for them would be. And if you ask the masses (look for answers through Google searches or social media), you’ll only find out what the norm is to do. But the norm might not suit you and your goals.
Trust in your ability to know what is right for you.
2 Make sure you know you
All roads lead to Rome, they say. I’m more of a, all roads lead within, kind of girl.
Now that I understood that only I would know what was a right choice for me, I had to make sure that it was crystal clear who me was. I needed to strengthen the connection within.
Sometimes it’s easy to think you know who you are based on what people tell you, based on what you tell yourself or based on what society tells you about yourself. But I’ve realized that you only realize who you are deep down inside once you take the time to connect with the true inner you,
I’m talking quality one-on-one time with your own bad-ass self. And no cheating filling up the time with TV and mindless Whats Apping. I’m talking straight up solo hang out: read a book, write your thoughts, make a list of your goals, listen to music while you paint, meditate or just simply be.
It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure you take the time to really understand what is important to you.
3 Accept that your rational mind doesn’t know everything
We live in a world that values the mind more than the heart, money and power more than connection and being right more than love.
Disconnect from those unbeneficial ideologies.
Being rational and intellectual have their place and value in the world. But not everything we do and say should be guided by that type of mentally.
Accept that not everything that has more pros and less cons will be what’s right for you. Sometimes, something is right, just because it feels right. The heart and gut have their own way of judging crossroads. Give them the space to be able to make decisions sometimes.
4 Learn to feel what your body says
Most of the experiments that I read about regarding intuition mentioned how the body was the first thing to react to correct intuitive decisions. Besides sweaty hands, as mentioned in the opening experiment, the other main part of your body that will tell you what your gut is saying is your gut.
Pay attention to the feelings in your stomach. Butterflies or nausea in the belly can be your system’s way of trying to get your attention.
Develop the ability to notice those types of body signals.
For me, yoga, meditation and dance are the main ways I have learned to hear my body better. But I have no doubt that there are other ways. Figure out which activities hep you better hear and connect with your body.
Connecting with your intuition is a naturally instinctive way to find and stay on your own true path. Take the time to reunite with this existing, and maybe forgotten, part of your mind.
It’ll be a key tool in helping you choose a path in life that is completely right for you.
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