Intuition - Are you accessing it?
On Sunday I went road tripping with my bestie, Gigi. We headed out early from Melbourne to Cape Schank and parked at Bushman’s Walk, an incredibly picturesque coastal region along Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. I was feeling the weight of having to resolve an emotionally charged and potentially life-changing decision and immersing in nature was just what I needed to ground and re-centre.
When it comes to making decisions, we have a lot of tools at our disposal, from everyday incidental choices to huge life-altering ones. In these situations, many people favour reason, which is pragmatic and relies on logic and factual information, and usually results in safe and sensible decisions and outcomes. For example, when buying a property, people consider current market, median house prices, location, lifestyle, and overall distinctiveness of a property. With all questions satisfied and if they are relatively happy, a decision to purchase is likely.
So, what’s wrong with this? Nothing, if being relatively happy is enough. What if there was a better choice – and you only needed to implement a different but often overlooked tool at your disposal to make choices that fulfil your passion and lead you into your desired reality? I’m talking about using intuition alongside reason to make decisions based on the complete spectrum of information available to us, irrespective of how big or small.
Making sense of reason
When we gather and analyse information from sources external to us, we are using logic and reason. For example, our 5 senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste; the perspective of other’s that helps us to evaluate the truth of situations; our lived experience and the experience of others; scientific and market research, books, the internet, and the whole gamut of data available to us. The problem is we often end up with too much information and still no certainty to base our decisions upon. Thus, on its own reason does not always get us to where we want or need to be.
One of the challenges is societal systems, which teach us from a very early age that using reason is best because it guides us to the safest and most efficient outcome. Education systems teach us how to research, evaluate facts and to make logical decisions. Consequently, we humans are prone to overthinking because it is how we have been taught to solve life’s problems. Spending too much time in your head churning over pros and cons is exhausting and frustrating and doesn’t help with decision making. The solution? Get grounded in your body and access your higher self for clarity and guidance. In other words, learn to harness your intuition.
Highly developed intuition is a "secret weapon" that gives you all kinds of information you wouldn't normally have. This isn't the brain analysing; this is nonlinear knowledge. It's a second kind of intelligence. You want to use both." – Judith Orloff, MD, professor of psychiatry at UCLA.
The intuition X-factor
Intuition isn’t magic, although it is a superpower. Trusting intuition simply means accessing one’s inner world to make sense of situations. Often described as ‘gut feeling’, intuition helps us take action on the basis of what feels right. A group of researchers at the University of New South Wales defined intuition as the influence of "nonconscious emotional information" from the body or the brain, such as an instinctual feeling or sensation. They suggest it refers to a brain process that gives people the ability to make decisions without the use of analytical reasoning.
Whilst grounding enables us to access our intuition there are also many factors that can suppress it, such as upbringing, the roles we play at work, and interpersonal relationships. Importantly, surrendering the ego is key to developing intuition because, ultimately, the ego is a barrier to inner knowing. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz describes it beautifully – that when we are born we are like a pure blank canvas and as children we naturally use intuition to experience the world around us. As we grow, parents, teachers, and influential role models, write all over our canvas and “sully the sheet”. So, instead of living as free spirits we adopt behaviours perceived by society to be “good”, “acceptable”, and “right” and lose connection to our instinctual self and inner wisdom aka intuition.
The good news – intuition is a primary human instinct that is essential to survival, hence it is available to everyone. Through gratitude, practicing forgiveness, relinquishing need for control, and by being open and honest with ourselves, we can surrender the ego and hone our intuition, enabling us to make more effective decisions than those based on logic and reason alone.
Here are 5 things to help you connect-to and strengthen your intuition:
1. Listen to your gut – "There are neurotransmitters in your gut, so if you get a gut feeling, it's not good to ignore that," Orloff says. Put simply, the digestive system can help improve your intuition. So, check-in with your gut when you have important decisions to make.
2. Escape your daily routine – Slow down. Go on a retreat, or simply spend a day in new surroundings with nothing planned. When we are constantly busy it is difficult to be sensitive to the quiet voice of intuition.
3. Spend time in nature – Being in the natural environment, away from technology and the cognitive minds other distractions, opens and connects us to the kind of intuition we needed as a species.
4. Get out of your head and feel more – The mind is constantly talking, arguing with itself like a crazy person. On the other hand, intuition feels. If you're uncertain as to whether you're listening to the fears of your mind or trusting intuition, see if you can differentiate whether you're thinking or feeling.
5. Observe your energy levels – Pay attention to how people make you feel. In other words, does being around someone tire and drain you, or make you feel positive and vital (energetic)? If you don't feel rightaround someone, that’s your intuition trying to tell you something.
Until next time,