Last Updated on April 19, 2022 by Admin
As a leader, whether in a corporate setting or in your own business, you’re constantly making decisions.
You have to decide on the best candidate for your open role, how much to charge for your services, whether to continue with a project or put it on hold.
Not to mention the decisions you make when it comes to your personal life.
(My least favorite is, “what’s for dinner?”)
Society prioritizes rational thinking, pragmatism, and data-driven decisions.
And while I believe there is certainly a place for the “hard” information, this way of thinking leads women to believe we have to make the perfect decision every time.
You begin to question your judgement, your decisions, and your perspectives.
You often wonder if you’ve made the right decision, or ruminate over the worst-case scenarios before ever choosing an option or path.
And all of that questioning and self-doubt takes a toll on your confidence.
So the next time you have to make a decision, you repeat the same behaviors, causing overwhelm, anxiety, or even avoiding the decision altogether.
Instead of buying into the patriarchal notion that rationality is the best decision-making tool, it’s time to embrace another part of your decision-making toolkit.
I’m talking about your intuition.
The best decisions are made using both reason and intuition, yet we don’t trust the gut instincts we often feel.
The good news is that you can deepen trust in your intuition, and you can tap into your inner wisdom to help you make better decisions.
Here’s how to trust your intuition:
Intuition is a subconscious process that gives you the ability to know something directly, without facts or reason. You might also refer to your intuition as your inner knowing, inner wisdom, or your gut instinct.
We all have access to our intuition as a birthright. Even if you don’t feel particularly “intuitive,” you still have an inner knowing based on lived experiences stored in your subconscious mind.
Intuition can be developed through an intentional process of making time and space to be with yourself, get to know yourself and your thoughts, and listen deeply to your inner voice.
We all have beliefs that feel so true we don’t even think to question them. Beliefs like:
“I’m not experienced enough.”
“I can’t charge that much.”
“I have to say ‘yes’ to everything.”
“I don’t have what it takes.”
When you lean in to your intuition, you’re making a commitment to always check in with yourself and ask, “is this belief true? What else might be true?”
Building trust in your intuition allows you to acknowledge your current beliefs, redefine them, and form new beliefs about yourself and your situation.
Trusting your intuition also means being okay with unlearning. With dismantling systems. With questioning your beliefs. With challenging your thought patterns. Tuning into your inner knowing, rather than buying into what others want you to feel or believe.
Trusting that you have knowledge within you and wisdom that you can use, rather than relying on what you were taught or what you learned in childhood or adulthood.
What is Intuition?
We have two voices competing for our attention at all times. My teacher, Lindsay Mack, calls them our “two radio stations.”
One of those stations is our thinking mind. The thinking mind is really loud. It’s the dominant voice, shouting to keep us safe. It does not like discomfort, disruption, or growth. Instead, the thinking mind wants us to be safe, secure, and comfortable.
Think back to a time when you felt stuck, or a time when you didn’t want to keep doing what you were doing. Even when you feel dissatisfied with some area of your life, your thinking mind will still prioritize staying where you are.
It’s the choice between giving up what’s safe and comfortable but dissatisfying, or leaving behind what’s safe and comfortable in search of something more satisfying. It’s a dissonance that we often feel – especially when we’re trying to figure out our next steps. The thinking mind keeps us where we’re safe, even if we’re unhappy. It keeps us in what’s familiar.
The other radio station is the intuition. It’s very quiet. It’s often a whisper. It communicates like a strong drumbeat. Often, when you ignore it, it gets louder and louder until you can’t ignore it anymore. There’s no way to bypass it forever – it will catch up with you eventually.
The intuition conflicts with the thinking mind. It wants growth, evolution, constant movement through uncomfortable circumstances, shifting, changing, growing. Your intuition values discomfort. It values expansion. Meanwhile, your thinking mind freaks out at the thought of expansion.
To trust your intuition, it’s not about making your thinking mind go away. You still need it! And it helps to listen to it and acknowledge and understand why it’s saying what it’s saying to you.
If you’re thinking of making a career change, it could say, “well you need to stay here because that’s what other people are expecting from you. It would make everyone else comfortable.” And you can listen to it and notice if that’s a pattern in other areas of your life. It provides useful information about how you operate.
Whenever the thinking mind tries to talk you out of something, it typically means something really important is happening intuitively. A message is trying to be heard. You’re being guided to something bigger or better.
These two stations are not enemies – both are necessary parts of you. We’re not meant to shove away our thinking mind, but we don’t always want to make decisions from that place. From a place of fear or scarcity or wanting to be safe and in control.
How can you tell which voice is which?
If something feels like a scream or a demand, it’s most likely your thinking mind. It’s typically a thought or voice like, “you have to do this immediately!” Or “don’t do that! Stay away from that!” Or “what were you thinking!!??!?!”
Anything that is a “should” or “should not” or a “what if” – that is your thinking mind speaking to you – especially if it’s, “what if this happens?” or worrying about the outcomes.
When something is a gentle invitation, when something is a soft knowing, that is intuition. It might be excitement, like a “hell yes! This is for you!” but often it is quieter than that. And when you’re hearing the shoulds and what-ifs, you can ask yourself: “is this true?”
I love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic. In this excerpt, she’s talking about the relationship between fear and creativity, and I think it has a nice parallel with the relationship between the thinking mind and your intuition:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Just like fear is not allowed to drive the car, you can tell your thinking mind to take a backseat any time you’d like to listen for your intuition.
How to Build Trust in Your Intuition
There’s a lot of sitting with yourself, with your thoughts, in silence, introspection, self-coaching, etc. involved in trusting your intuition. This is a relationship you’re building with yourself. And in that relationship, you’re building trust.
As with any relationship, you have to show up for it, and that will look different for everyone. It can be prayer, it can be journaling, it can be singing or dancing, it can be chanting or saying a mantra, it can be grounding by walking barefoot in the grass or soil. How does it feel good for you to connect with yourself?
Here are a few ways I recommend to deepen trust in your intuition:
1. Do a Memory Inventory
Look through your mental file folders for experiences and situations when you knew “something” was going to happen – and it did. Identify the red flags that you missed, and especially the ones you ignored. Seeing that you’ve had a feeling or gut instinct like this in the past will help you pay closer attention to your intuition (and the red flags) in the present.
2. Ask for Guidance
Connect to a power bigger than yourself. This could be Spirit, God, The Universe, Angels, Guides, Ancestors – whatever term you like to use. We all have access to an unlimited source of wisdom through these higher powers. Pose a question to yourself like, “is this the right decision for me right now?” then listen to hear the answer. You can also pay attention to signs or synchronicities you observe after you ask the question to see if anything comes up for you.
3. Note Your Visceral Reactions
Pay attention to your visceral reactions – the physical things that you feel in your body when you’re considering a decision. What am I sensing? What am I feeling right now? Do I feel a sense of dread? Tightness in my chest? Tired, reluctant? Openness? Excitement? Sense of relief? Pay attention using all five senses. Intuition lives in your body, not in your mind. Exercise can help to deepen your mind-body connection if you’re having trouble noticing sensations.
You can’t hear your intuition because your mind is full. You need to make space to listen for your inner knowing. You’re busy, you’re anxious, you’re fearful – and that’s not how you’re going to hear your intuition. Instead, find some quiet time where you can sit in meditation. You can start with five or ten minutes, simply paying attention to your breath, or you can use a guided meditation. Either way, find something that works for you and commit to a daily meditation practice. This is a long-term strategy I highly recommend, because its benefits go far beyond intuition. Meditation positively impacts every area of your wellbeing.
5. Free Write
Many people who are starting a journaling practice need prompts to get them started, and if that’s you, great! You know what you need to feel connected. I would also encourage you to free write. If it helps, you can start with something you’re feeling, or struggling with, or a decision you want to make, or something that’s keeping you up at night, then just start writing. Don’t censor yourself, don’t erase anything – just write and keep writing as long as you sense words coming through onto the page. Or you can set a timer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because you’re not sharing this with anyone. It can be raw, messy, scattered – and that is okay!
6. The Intentional Pause
One of the best ways to deepen trust in your intuition is to simply pause to check in with yourself. This is an intentional pause, and intentional time that you are allowing yourself to just be. It could be any time you’re feeling frustrated or scared or worried. It could be in the morning, in the evening, when you’re in the shower – any time that you get alone time for yourself – even during a walk or run.
Our minds are busy. It’s really easy to get pulled into our to-do list or to be overtaken by fight, flight or freeze reactions. By taking this time to pause and check in with yourself, you’re touching in with your truth. We have so many biases and beliefs and stories, and things we tell ourselves that it’s easy to just go with it. But when we check in with ourselves, we can connect with our deep, inner wisdom and form new stories.
Everyone has intuition, and you can learn how to trust your intuition by committing to spending intentional time with yourself. Leaning into your intuition can help you make better decisions and trust your judgement. Practices like meditation, free writing, and developing your body compass are excellent ways to tap into your inner wisdom.
Take action now: Choose one of the practices outlined in this article and commit to it daily for the next 30 days. Pay attention to anything you sense, hear or feel, and make time to journal about your experiences. Notice what comes up for you as a result of this intentional practice.
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