Today we’re talking all about intuition, what it is, and how to listen to your inner knowing better. Keep reading for 6 strategies to sharpen your intuition.
The subject of intuition and “listening to your gut” is so near and dear to me. I live with my intuition (and values) as my compass. It’s guided me in making many big decisions in my life, and I gotta say, it’s never steered me wrong.
I remember back in 2009 being faced with my very first big decision of leaving my college program to pursue nutrition. I was 18 at the time and pretty afraid of what I was getting myself into but this feeling in side of me couldn’t be ignored. I needed to explore this passion of mine. Fast forward a few years later to a relationship I was in that just wasn’t right. Breaking off that engagement was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and even in all the muck, my intuition spoke loud and clear. I wouldn’t be who I am (or with the person I’m now with!) if it wasn’t for listening to that inner guidance.
Whether it’s your personal life, relationships, business, or little things like listening to your body or eating intuitively, intuition can offer powerful insights.
What Is Intuition?
Explaining intuition can be difficult because it’s largely a feeling and a knowing. It’s like trying to describe the colour blue — it’s not easy to do! But simply put, intuition is an innate inclination or drive toward a particular action or behaviour (as opposed to thinking or analyzing). It’s a feeling or a sense that you have, and in many cases, a gut feeling based on past experiences.
Now this isn’t to say that you should disregard logic or conscious reasoning. Our analytical brain is important, too. Instead, it’s all about finding a balance with bringing many of our cognitive resources into action depending on the situation. All are very useful, however intuition can provide us with valuable insights into what may be best for us, in ways that logic sometimes cannot. Sometimes it logically makes sense to do something, but still just doesn’t feel right. Have you ever experienced that before?
Intuition has been a topic of research for centuries in the fields of philosophy and psychology. It’s fascinating stuff. Whether you call it intuition, listening to your gut, having a hunch, or your inner knowing, we all have the ability to tap into it and that’s what this post is all about.
Here are 6 strategies to better listen to & sharpen intuition that work for me personally plus some questions you can ask yourself.
6 Strategies for Listening to Your Intuition
1. Clear the Noise
Clearing the clutter of mental or external noise is one of the best ways to tap into our intuition easier. Spending time in solitude or in meditation can be profound in helping us better pick up on our inner guidance.
When we’re constantly being influenced by others, what we see/hear, others’ opinions or what others might think, the “shoulds” that we feel, or the general busyness of our daily lives, it makes it harder for us to pay attention to what truly feels best for us. By getting quiet and spending time alone we can better tune into our needs and intuition, free of distraction.
2. Initial Gut Reaction
Practice paying attention to your Initial split-second gut reaction when being faced with a set of decisions.
To practice this now, take a moment to think about a decision you’re trying to make. Remove all thoughts or analyses about them, and just focus on the feeling of when you weigh your options. You can try flipping a coin to see what that split-second moment feels like.
Generally, when something feels right, there’s a pull toward it, an openness, lightness, or senes of excitement. When something doesn’t feel right, you may feel a sense of contraction, resistance, dread, or pulling back. You can ask yourself: which choice feels relieving, liberating, calming, or exciting? Which one feels heavy or uncomfortable? Your initial reaction can give you lots of insight into what might be best for you.
Tuning into these feelings will help you familiarize yourself with your “gut feelings” or intuition.
3. Physical Sensations
The brain and body are intricately connected. When we feel a certain way mentally or emotionally, our physical body responds accordingly thanks to the connections in our nervous system. For example, if something feels wrong, you may hunch your shoulders, feel a heaviness in your chest or feel sick to your stomach, or you may have a concerned facial expression. Likewise, if something feels good, you may be smiling while talking about it or feel a sense of lightness and opennness in your body, even if there’s a bit of nervousness about it.
This is where some people get confused by fear vs. intuition. To help distinguish between the two, I invite you to think about it this way: how would you feel AFTER the decision is all said and done, either immediately, after a few weeks, or even months later? Do you have a sense of relief, pride, joy, or confidence? Or does it make you feel sad, regretful, or disappointed?
Fear can typically be overcome. We can push through fears, learn new skills, and improve confidence. But intuition typically lingers by giving us a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, even after we’ve made a decision.
4. Explore Your Options
Take a moment to think about a decision you’ve tried to make and that you kept coming back to again and again. Perhaps it felt unresolved, you kept second-guessing yourself or a nagging feeling never subsided. In my experience, my intuition is calling when something keeps coming back to my mind and an issue keeps repeating itself. It can sometimes mean we need to explore what it is that we keep questioning, in order to put it to rest.
5. Past Experiences
Recalling past experiences where you had a hunch about something can help you notice that feeling in the future. Try and remember what that “hunch” feeling felt like, especially in a past experience where you were correct about it.
6. Write It Out
Sometimes using our conscious, analytical mind can be helpful to pave the way for our intuition to shine through. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself if you’re trying to make a decision or weighing a few options in your life right now. Grab a journal and write these out:
- What is the ultimate outcome I want? What is most important when it comes to this area of my life?
- What are the pros, cons, and worst case scenarios for each option?
- Are my fears (worst case scenarios) realistic or imaginary? Often we are afraid of outcomes that aren’t even likely, let alone realistic. This can drown out your intuition. Ask yourself if your fears are deep-seated insecurities disguised as convincing truths.
Put It Into Practice
Listening to your intuition takes time and practice and is just like a skill you can develop.
If you’re new to listening to your intuition, try tapping into it in situations that don’t matter quite as much, such as very small decisions (e.g. what to order off a menu, or which type of cuisine to cook or order for dinner). You can also try it in conversations with others by gently picking up on the way someone feels behind the words they are saying.
Do you listen to your intuition? How has it been helpful in your life? Share with me below!