How to Recognize When Your Intuition Is Trying to Tell You Something
NOTE: This blog post on intuition was written before the Covid-19 virus pandemic became widespread here in North America. It may seem irrelevant to the current moment, but I believe times like these are when intuition is awakened powerfully. If we know how to listen to our intuition during challenging times, we give ourselves and our communities a better chance at remaining healthy. Thank you for reading, and I hope you are safe wherever you are!
If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few weeks, you may be thinking, “Okay, I get that intuition is important and that I should use it, but what if I don’t know how to recognize my intuition?”
That’s a great question and for some people, intuition is an unfamiliar feeling. Therefore, when intuition steps up to say something, these individuals may have a hard or even impossible time realizing what’s happening in the moment. So, they go on ignoring the feeling, keeping their intuition in a relatively dormant state in the process.
Intuition seems like a mysterious, magical thing and it may feel like it’s not possible to measure or recognize as it arises. You can learn to recognize your intuitive senses; it is just a matter of paying attention and tuning in.
We All Have Intuition
Maybe you think intuition is something other people have, but you do not. Or maybe you can sense your intuition, but you dismiss it because you see it as an untrustworthy or unreliable source.
The truth is that intuition is very real, and we all have it. Every single one of us. It’s a natural process, and the more we can tap into it, the better we are able to make sound decisions that support other as well as our own best interests.
Still not convinced that you can trust your intuition to guide you. Consider that researchers at Leeds University analyzed reams of data on the subject and concluded that intuition is a real, measurable psychological process in which the brain uses environmental cues as well as past experiences to make decisions. It all happens so quickly that it might not even register to some people, even though the information yielded through intuitive processes can be incredibly useful.
Your intuition may be difficult to detect because you are relying on just one of your brain’s operating systems. The brain actually thinks using two different and distinct processes. In one, the brain works through information slowly and deliberately. This is normal, standard, analytical thinking. In the other, the brain draws on patterns from our past experiences and the current environment to make quick decisions. This is where the intuitive process lives and operates.
Remarkably, the intuitive operating system of the brain arrives at better decisions than the more deliberate part of the brain. This study found, for example, that participants in a rigged card game used their intuition to determine that drawing from one stack of cards resulted in much more favorable outcomes than drawing from a different stack of cards. Participants “knew” the nature of the game before they were consciously aware of it, which allowed them to make better decisions. In this case, it meant favoring the “safe” stack of cards well before they were able to explain why. Their intuitive processes did the work for them.
The thing is the card players in this study were only able to benefit from their intuition if they were tuned into it. So even though we all have intuition, it’s meaningless if we can’t recognize it.
If you’re experiencing difficulty tuning in to your intuition, it might be helpful to think of the process as a conversation.
Basically, your intuition can be seen as the voice of your subconscious mind. It speaks up every once in a while, in order to convey information to the conscious mind so that you can integrate the information in your decision making. The conversation happens in the background of your mind, which is what makes it difficult to hear. But you can practice listening in and eavesdropping on this conversation. That’s the first step in improving your ability to recognize and leverage your intuition.
It’s all about remaining open to the messages that are being sent. You are used to trusting your analytical mind, so you make sure its voice is the loudest one you hear as you go through your processes. But when you do that, you silence some of the other voices which have important things to say.
Yes, I realize that I’m talking about the voices in your head and how you should listen to them! But I’m not advising you to be crazy or act out of your mind. It’s quite the opposite, actually; when you use your intuition, you become more inclusive with regard to your brain’s abilities. Intuition allows you to operate at full capacity and it’s about staying more in your mind than being out of it.
When I say to be open to the voices, I’m talking about the voice of your conscience and the conversation your intuitive mind has with your thinking brain. This is how the process of awakening your intuition works.
Trust. Feel. Listen.
Once you are open to the idea that your brain has different ways of telling you things, you can get to work practicing the process.
It’s not always a clean, step-by-step process. It can seem a little messy, especially at first. That is why I’ve come up with a list of steps you can take to strengthen your ability to hear your intuition.
#1 – Have Some Faith
This stuff might not make a lot of sense at first. Remember, this is all about placing your more analytical brain on the back burner so you can become more attuned with your intuition or as some call it, gut instinct. Therefore, it is likely to not make logical sense. You have to trust that you have intuition and that it can help you lead more effectively. When you have faith, you give yourself a much better chance at succeeding.
#2 – Stop Thinking
And start feeling. Thought processes, as you have become familiar with them, are not needed here. Instead, begin to pay attention to the feelings in your body. Pay close attention to your chest and stomach areas. When people talk about “gut feelings,” they are referring to intuition. It creates very real feelings in your body. When you start to notice them, you can begin to listen to what they have to say.
#3 – Hold Your Attention
Listen attentively to what your gut is telling you. Don’t expect to have a Q&A with your intuition; it doesn’t work that way. Rather, your intuition will reward you with answers to questions you’ve been asking and deliberating for the past several days or weeks. It will report its findings as feelings. If you are too busy trying to analyze or make sense of what it’s telling you, you’ll miss out on the feelings you are supposed to feel.
#4 – Consider Your Mindset and Environment
People who are positive, mindful, contemplative and present are more likely to be attuned to their intuition. They are also better able to integrate the information from their intuition in a healthy, positive manner. Those who live and work in toxic environments surrounded by negativity tend to have clouded perceptions. Your intuition will work best and send the clearest signals when you keep an open channel to it. That means eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and making healthy choices. The intuition lives in your body and is translated by your mind. So, when you take care of those aspects of yourself, you give intuition an invitation to take on a greater role.
Leverage Your Intuition and Rise to a New Level of Leadership
The Leaders Edge Grounded Leader webinar series continues next week with a presentation on leveraging your intuition, which is incredibly useful during times like these. If you are curious about how you can awaken your intuition and integrate it into your professional life, you don’t want to miss this one!
If you are Interested in learning more, visit this page to find out how you can reserve your spot.
Any questions for me? I’m here and available to talk if you want to reach out. Just give me a call at 1.855.871.3374 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m excited to hear what you think and learn where you want to take your leadership!