The era of mindfulness has brought with it an emphasis on intuition. We often hear the statement, “Listen to your intuition”. But what is intuition? A straightforward way of defining it is the ability to know something instinctively, without much reasoning or knowledge; the knowing without knowing; that gut feeling in our body which tells us if something is right or not.
Relying on our intuition has been generally frowned upon, especially in our Western world, where analytic and scientific thinking has steadily become the rule of the day. To make decisions based on your gut feeling is considered to be whimsical, and therefore, not reliable. However, science now acknowledges the existence of intuition and numerous studies in neuroscience are engaged in determining how to measure intuition and its effectiveness in decision making.
Intuition is the ability to use our feelings in a particular moment to guide us in making decisions. Allowing our intuition to guide us does not mean that we are going to hear some voice in our head telling us what to do or where to go. It actually means that we have the self-esteem needed to recognise that the discomfort or confusion that we may feel in any particular situation is actually giving us information that we may need to act about something.
Therefore, we can only rely on our intuition for guidance if we believe in ourselves and if we have the courage and confidence to act on that guidance. If we have low self-esteem, we may actually sabotage ourselves and block ourselves from listening to what our intuition is telling us because we will doubt ourselves and fear that we will fail.
So, what can help us develop and strengthen our intuition?
- Meditation – we hear and read a lot about the benefits of meditation. But regular meditation does help to silence the chatterbox in our head, free ourselves from self-doubt and anxiety and help us make the shift from the mind to the heart. That is the place where we can listen to the inner voice.
- Awake the observer – When faced with any situation – big or small – which may require some sort of action on our part, take a step back, become your own observer and allow yourself to see the situation as though you are looking in rather than as being part of it. Taking the observer position makes it easier to respond truthfully and authentically.
- Increase self-awareness – Stopping to listen to our heart, our thoughts and the different sensations in our body, allows us to be more present to ourselves and more genuine in how we respond to ourselves and to others. Living truthfully, i.e., aligned to what we feel, means trusting ourselves and allowing the voice inside to guide us.
- Keep a journal – recording our thoughts and feelings is a way of slowing down the hectic pace of life that most of us tend to live and reflecting on our behaviour and the choices that we make. This will in turn help us understand whether we are simply reacting to life or whether we are acting on what is best for our growth and happiness.
Developing our intuition to guide us in our decision-making does not mean that we exclude our analytic and rational thinking. The two methods can actually be quite complimentary to each other, therefore, learning to combine them when faced with decisions in our life, might actually prove to be the best way forward.
Stephanie Caruana is a counsellor at Willingness. She offers counselling services to adolescents and adults experiencing some form of distress. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.