This past year, I decided to make a commitment to myself: every time I felt something in my gut, I’d trust it. No questions asked.
There were a few times when I slipped and let my fear or ego get in the way, but for the most part, I stuck to it. Whether it was a small decision (like what I’d order at a restaurant) or a big decision (like life-altering ones having to do with my career), I followed the guidance of my intuition.
It wasn’t always easy, but every time I’d question listening to that subtle force deep inside, I’d remind myself why I took on the challenge: because every time in the past when I’d gone against that gut feeling, I’d regretted it. Every. Single. Time.
And every time I chose to listen to that feeling during the challenge, I was glad that I did. Even when my rational mind fought against it and made very good arguments for the opposite, something always ended up revealing itself after the fact that made me so grateful that I had listened to my intuition rather than giving in to self-doubt, fear, or someone else’s opinion on what I should do.
We are taught to value our rational mind over our intuitive one, but this is to our own detriment. How many times have you felt something in your gut but gone with the “rational” option instead, only to sorely regret it later? You aren’t the only one.
What is Intuition?
The source of our intuition or intuitive nudges vary depending on who you are talking to, but the feeling itself is the same across the board. It’s the feeling of “knowing” that gently guides you away or toward something. It tells you when something is “off,” when to hold back and be patient, and when to seek out more information. This feeling is subtle and often doesn’t have any clear logic or reason to immediately support it. It’s an innate sensation, a sensory experience.
“Intuition is a sense of knowing how to act spontaneously, without needing to know why.” ─ Sylvia Clare
This “gut feeling” has actually been scientifically researched. Our subconscious mind stores far more information than we are aware of. Also, like animals, we have instincts that have developed over millions of years. While our conscious mind may not be aware of every piece of information we have stored, a deeper part of us does and it communicates it to us through intuitive nudges ─ or our gut feelings.
From a spiritual perspective, many believe that the inner voice comes from messages from a cosmic source such as God/the Universe/Source, spirit guides, or the collective consciousness. Whatever you believe it is, the existence and validity of this innate knowledge are universally experienced.
Trusting Your Intuition is Trusting Yourself
One of the most challenging aspects of listening to our intuition is not only the fear of not having enough clear-cut evidence to back it up but the lack of trust in our own instincts. For many of us, our automatic response is to second-guess ourselves. If someone else has a different opinion or way of doing things, they must be right. If we can’t find enough hard data to support what feels right, we don’t have the courage to move forward on what feels good to us, especially if it goes against the grain or is a new way of doing things.
This boils down to a lack of confidence. When we question our intuition, we question ourselves. We question our ability to make decisions, to see things in a way that others can’t, and to course-correct if we take a risk and it doesn’t pan out as we’d hoped.
“The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.” ─ Gisele Bundchen
Every time we trust our intuition, we bet on ourselves. Just like any other relationship, the more we take steps to build that trust, the stronger the bond becomes. And when we are able to trust ourselves, true confidence emerges. Life becomes less of a fight when you’re on your own side.
How to Strengthen the Connection
Messages from our inner guide usually come as a subtle whisper. They can be so subtle that they get buried beneath the noise of our thoughts and the powerful current of our emotions. Like any other sense, though, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
As I made it a point to stop, get quiet, listen to my intuition, and then heed its advice, I noticed my sensitivity to it began to grow. The voice became louder. I didn’t have to search for it as much; it became more readily available. More fine-tuned. It feels like I’ve been building a relationship with it over time. The more I trusted it, the better able I was to understand its language and signals.
If you feel very out of touch with your inner guide or want to foster what is there, here are some tips to help you strengthen the connection with your intuition.
- Start by listening to your intuition on small things, like what to order at a restaurant or a sudden urge to go somewhere random. This is not to say you shouldn’t weigh the pros and cons that your rational mind put forth and take other people’s opinions (who you trust) into consideration. But when it comes to making the final decision? Follow your gut.
- Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between your mind and your intuition. Identify where you feel intuitive nudges and where you feel rational thoughts in your body. This may sound strange, but your mind and body are a system working together. Where you feel something in your body can give you clues. For many, rational thoughts feel like they are coming from one’s heart and intuitive feelings feel lower, in your literal gut.
- Another way to identify your intuition (especially when fear is involved, which is very good at masquerading as your intuition) is to check whether something feels expansive (intuition) versus constrictive (rational). Even if the intuitive choice is scary or risky, you’ll feel an opening inside of you. It will feel freeing (because it’s aligned with your truth).
- You can also try muscle testing, which is a technique that allows you to tap into a physical response to see how your body reacts to certain statements. Our muscles have reactions to statements that don’t align with our truth. It’s similar to a lie detector test but instead of measuring things like blood pressure, pulse, and respiration, these quick tests tap into our muscular reactions. I don’t recommend solely relying on these techniques as you can easily become dependent on them, but they are good to have in your toolbox. Click here to watch a video tutorial on how to conduct your own muscle tests using the ring and sway methods.
Keep in mind that sometimes, it can be more challenging to tap into your intuition when you are dealing with something that is wrapped up in the ego, such as fear and desire. These instances will require you to be deeply honest with yourself and develop a strong sense of self-awareness. The more you practice leaning into your intuition and getting to know your own patterns and behaviors, the better you’ll be able to peel back the layers to the truth.
Be Patient with Yourself
As I said, strengthening the connection with your intuition is like building any other relationship. It takes time to form trust. If you start to feel stressed out about it, you’ll create a block. Ease into it. Trust the process. The instinct is there, you just have to get quiet enough to listen to it and be patient with the journey.
There will probably be times when you listen to your rational mind instead. That’s okay ─ you won’t be messing up the process. Your intuition won’t go anywhere. The next time it speaks to you, listen. There will be plenty of opportunities!
Above all, have fun with it. This is one of the most rewarding and beautiful parts of your self-love journey.