In today’s rational world, we often ignore our intuition and turn outside ourselves for guidance. However, our inner source of knowledge often understands much more than we think. When we learn to follow its guidance we can transform our lives in amazing ways.
In our current culture, rationality is king. We have become wary of more intangible forms of understanding such as instincts and intuition. However, science has shown that we can use our intuition to give us important insights. Our gut reactions are often based on subconscious knowledge that we do not understand. However, just because our rational mind’s do not realise where this knowledge comes from it does not make it irrational or untrue.
Most of us have had experiences where things just didn’t feel right. We may have had a sense of potential danger or just felt that something was off. For example, we walk into a room where people have been arguing and we can sense the tension even though no words are spoken in our presence. Or we pass a stranger in the street and feel unaccountably threatened by their presence. We often pick up clues from our environment through our senses but these clues can guide us if only we listen to them.
How does intuition work?
Intuition occurs when a feeling comes into our consciousness without us being aware of what has caused it. We know something without perceiving with our rational mind how we know it.
No one knows for sure exactly how this happens. It could be that we are reading body language or recognizing underlying patterns in the environment or in other’s behaviour. According to David Myers, PhD, a social psychologist at Hope College, ‘the intuitive right brain is almost always “reading” your surroundings, even when your conscious left brain is otherwise engaged. The body can register this information while the conscious mind remains blissfully unaware of what’s going on.’
How can we learn to use our intuition?
When we have a big question or an important decision to make, many of us look outside of ourselves for the answers. We may ask friends, colleagues, experts or Google. We don’t trust our subconscious minds to have any insights of value. This can be a mistake.
When we begin to look out for hints from our inner guidance we can be moved to make better decisions. This doesn’t mean we should ignore our logical thoughts and ideas but that we should consider both sources of information as potentially valuable.
However, if we have been ignoring our instincts for most of our lives we may have lost our ability to hear its guidance. We may have to rebuild our connection to our instinctive knowing again. It’s a bit like when we don’t use a certain muscle for a while and it begins to atrophy. We have to gradually to build it back up to full strength.
Here are 6 ways to begin to develop your intuition and learn to use its guidance to a create more positive, successful and joyful life.
1. Learn to recognize how your intuition guides you
Everyone’s intuition guides them in different ways. Some people may feel intuitive guidance physically, such as in goosebumps a dry mouth or a queasy feeling in the stomach. Others feel it more through their emotions, for example feeling a sense of euphoria when they are making a decision they just know is right for them, or conversely feeling dread or despair when they do something they know doesn’t align with their vision of how there life should be. Other people may see pictures in their minds or hear voices in their heads.
Sometimes though, these feelings and sensations are more to do with fear and conditioning than intuition. This is why it is important to get to know how your inner guidance works before trusting it over the big things in life. For example, if you are scared of dogs because you were bitten by a dog as a child, then when you feel a prickle of fear at the sight of a dog it is not your intuition speaking but your conditioning.
2. Make time to listen to your intuition
When we rush around with our mind’s full of thoughts, we don’t let our intuition get a chance to inform us. We need to make time for some pauses in our lives to listen. Taking a more mindful approach to our lives can help make space for our inner guidance. Having some moments of empty time in our day can really help too. Just a few minutes to daydream while we sip a cup of coffee or gaze out of the window can allow us to get in touch with our inner voice. A meditation practice can also quiet our brains enough that the more intuitive side of our brain gets a chance to have its say.
3. Ask your intuition questions
This may sound a little weird, but you can deepen your intuition by developing a dialogue with it. Sit down in a quiet place and ask your inner self a question about your life and see what comes up. You might like to have a notebook or journal ready to write down what insights you receive. Looking back over these notes can help you see when your intuition has been right or wrong. Over time, you will be able to recognize your inner guidance more clearly and thus know when it is guiding you.
4. Practice using your intuition
Before trusting your intuition in big decisions in your life it pays to practice in smaller decisions. Use your instincts to choose a new item of clothing, a gift for a loved one or a restaurant to visit. Take a moment to see how you feel about the decision. Look for clues coming from your emotions, or your physical body. Pay attention to when a decision feels a little off and when it feels, at some deep level, just right. The feeling of knowing a decision is the right one is a very satisfying one and you may sense that your mind, emotions and physical body are in complete alignment. Using your intuition in this way will help to strengthen it so that it is available to you when you really need it.
5. Trust yourself
Often we turn to outside sources for information and guidance because we do not trust ourselves. We seek validation from others to convince ourselves that we are making the right decisions. But ultimately only you know what is right for your life. While it is always good to get ideas and information from others, ultimately you know what is best for you and it is important to develop trust in your inner thoughts and intuition
6. Blend your intuitive and rational knowledge
Intuition is an important way of gaining knowledge and insights but that doesn’t mean we should ignore logic and rationality. Different ways of knowing may be more suitable for certain tasks or decisions. For example, when deciding on a brand of car to buy it makes sense to study reports and information. On the flip side, if you are trying to discover your life purpose then your gut instincts may be your best guide. Sometimes a decision will call for both kinds of knowledge. For example, having decided on your life purpose using your instincts, your rational mind may help you work out the financial resources to make it happen.
Developing your intuition can change your life in quite dramatic ways. It can help you to avoid mistakes that could cost you emotionally and physically. It can also guide you towards creating a more fulfilling, satisfying, successful and joyous life.