You can call it a hunch, instinct, or even discernment, intuition is that still small voice that guides you in your life. It’s not all woo-woo. Intuition is something we all have.
Intuition: Direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension. The quality or ability of having such direct perception or quick insight.dictionary.com
A 2008 study in the British Journal of Psychology defined intuition as what happens when the brain draws on past experiences and external cues to make a decision — but it happens so fast that the reaction is at an unconscious level.
Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Guide to Intuitive Healing: Five Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness. “Just like the brain, there are neurotransmitters in the gut that can respond to environmental stimuli and emotions in the now — it’s not just about past experiences,” she says. When those neurotransmitters fire, you may feel the sensation of “butterflies” or uneasiness in your stomach. Researchers theorize that “gut instinct,” which sends signals to your brain, plays a large role in intuition.
The problem is when you stop listening to that voice (your intuition) the nudging, it starts to go quiet and dull.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t trust my intuition at all. My discernment has been questioned by weak leaders in my life who were intimidated by my intuition. My ability to trust my gut and my instincts got more and more dull the more I kept myself in traumatic situations. I thought I couldn’t trust my intuition anymore. Being told I was wrong when I knew I was right caused me to doubt.
If you have a hard time trusting yourself and your intuition because of past experiences, or you simply have never really leaned into developing this essential quality of good leaders.
Let me encourage you to try these 2 steps to help you not only HEAR that still small voice- but also to trust it.
Step #1- To Trust Your Intuition, Slow Your Brain Down
We are programed by the society that we live in that busy is best. The problem is when our brain is always “On” it can never pause long enough to tune into what we are feeling.
One of the best ways to slow your brain down and lean into your intuition is through exercise like yoga and meditation. When we slow our brains down and focus on our movement and our breath (like in Yoga) or on a single thought like meditation we have a change to hear what our heart is really feeling.
I notice my intuition speaks to me whenever I’m doing any kind of solo activity that keeps my body moving. Like playing piano or listening to worship music. If you didn’t know this girl is not a quiet worshiper- I’m the hands up, dancing in the kitchen kind of worshiper. It’s not just a spiritual practice-it engages all my senses.
Step #2- Ask Yourself the RIGHT Questions
It might sound crazy but asking yourself questions is a great way to learn to trust your intuition. Once you quiet your mind you can start to explore what you are really feeling.
For the trauma survivors you need to ask yourself questions to keep the mind-body connection strong. The ability to disconnect from our own thoughts, feelings, and identity is involuntary and strong. Because of this, asking yourself the right question is crucial.
To trust your intuition, you need to trick your rational mind to not answer the question with logic. I learned that you want to avoid questions that are yes/no answers like “Should I take this job?” or overly emotional questions like “Why does my ex-boyfriend hate me?”
Good questions are open-ended. They are not emotionally charged. Examples would be “What can I do to get more customers for my business?” or “What can I do to improve my next relationship?”
And then pay attention to the first thought you have. It could be a feeling, a sensation, a picture, or even a word that rises in you. Whatever you experience is your intuition telling you how you feel.
The ability to not only hear your intuition but to trust is a quality that separates good leaders from great leaders.
No matter what you call it, your intuition is that still small voice that guides you in your life. Pay attention to it!
With Grace & Grit,