You know the inkling in your stomach. It’s a sense of knowing or the gentle persuasion that something isn’t quite right and needs your attention. It’s subtle and doesn’t clamour for attention, which is why it’s often easily missed. It’s an intuition, and like most things that speak with a quiet voice, if we listen the potential is life changing.
For a long time, intuition was dismissed by experts as a pseudo-science. Fortunately for all of us with a sixth sense, science is now on board and researchers have found the part of the brain where intuition does its brilliant best.
Intuition. We’ve all heard of it, but what is it?
Intuition is a very real psychological process where the brain uses past experiences and cues from yourself and the environment to make a decision. The decision making happens so quickly that is doesn’t register on a conscious level.
Intuition exists in all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not. The more we learn about it and how it works, the more we can use it to shape our lives for the better. The human brain has two “Operating Systems” so to speak. The first is quick, instinctual, and effortless. This is where intuition thrives. It works by drawing patterns collected based on past experiences to draw the right conclusion. It all happens ‘offline’, in our subconscious. The second system is slower to respond. It’s more analytical, deliberate, and conscious.
Science has found real evidence to support the existence of intuition. It also suggests that the intuitive part of your brain knows the right answer long before the more analytical part.
Sharpening your intuition.
While we all have an intuition, not every person chooses to listen to it. Intuition is a means of the subconscious mind communicating with the conscious mind. The information that informs ‘that feeling’ is worth paying heed to.
So, your intuition is a brilliant thing. The sharper it is, the better off you’ll be. Here’s how to feed yours so it’s flourishing and ready to be put to use.
It sounds simple enough and it is. Your intuition can’t talk to you if you’re not listening. When you start to take notice, good things follow. Give it a shot.
Trust your intuition.
When a word like ‘gut’ teams up with a word like ‘feeling’ there is a good reason. Emotion and intuition have a physical presence in your gut. Lined with hundreds of neurons, your gut is often referred to as your second brain. That’s why you get ‘sick’ in your stomach about having to make a tough decision or when you know you’ve made a bad one.
You’ll know your intuition is kicking in when you let yourself feel it. You can feel it in your stomach, accompanied by goose bumps on your skin and a shiver down your spine. Sometimes it’s even more subtle and the only way to describe it is as a ‘knowing’. You’ll know when something is right for you – it’ll make you feel clear, nourishing and enriching. Similarly, you’ll know when something is off – you’ll feel an ache or a disheartening. Trusting your intuition might be difficult at first when you’re not used to it. But giving it time will be worth it.
Be ready to let go of bad feelings.
Negative emotions cloud your intuition, which is why when you’re angry or depressed, you tend to make bad decisions. Your intuition makes it easier to make better choices when you’re in a positive frame of mind than when you’re in a negative mood.
Be deliberate about the people around you.
People who drain you add to the noise around and make it more difficult to hear what your gut is trying to tell you. Keep people that enrich and empower you and walk away from the ones that drain you. While this sounds easy, it might be difficult to do. You can’t always walk away from important people in your life and if that’s the case, empower yourself by making it your decision to stay. The difference in language is subtle but big in impact.
Pay attention to what’s going on around you.
The more information you can gather from your environment, the more the intuitive, subconscious part of your brain has to work with and the more accurately it will inform your decision making.
Connect with others.
There are so many components that inform your opinions and decisions other than speech. Tone, volume, body language, gestures – all contribute to the meaning we give to our interactions with people. The ability to pick up on the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others is referred to as ‘empathic accuracy’. The more time you spend with people, the more you can tune your empathic accuracy. Being able to pick up on the signals of others will add to your intuition.
Find time to be silent and still.
Being in solitude turns down the clamour of the world and allows you to tune in to your intuition. Your gut is always sending warnings and encouragement but we’re often too busy to notice. Let your mind wander to explore your feelings, thoughts and words. One way to do this is to be mindful. Focusing on your thoughts, your experiences and the present gets rid of mental clutter and opens pathways to connect to your intuition.
Use your dream time well.
Dreams are the brain’s way of processing information that’s left over from the days proceedings. Paying attention to dreams can provide information that you don’t have access to when you’re awake. Before you fall asleep, focus on any unresolved issues and possible solutions as you’re drifting away. Close your eyes and let your brain do the rest.
Your intuition is powerful and can lead to amazing insights, but that doesn’t mean you follow it blindly. It’s still important to use common sense and balance it with rationality. You need an effective equilibrium, between both the intuitive and rational parts of the brain to position yourself to reach the greatest outcome.
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