When and how to use your intuition
A year-and-a-half ago I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life: Commit to marrying the wrong guy. The venue was booked, the dress ordered, and the invites mailed. Everything was ready—except I was not. Out of nowhere, I started to notice an odd feeling. I couldn't sleep or eat, and I struggled to focus at work. I was feeling emotional, yet numb. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, until I realized my intuition was trying to get my attention.
Out of the blue, I knew in my heart and in my gut that I wanted to cancel the wedding and leave the relationship. I had never been so sure of anything in my life. Although I tried to rationalize the reason, it was impossible: We didn't have any problems, rarely argued, and wanted the same things for the future. Yet one day I woke up and realized that we weren't meant to be.
The hardest part was explaining things to my then-fiancé and my family. Everyone kept asking, "But why?" and my answer of, "I just know," didn't put anyone at ease. But when I had made the decision and told the people around me, it was like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free again.
Within weeks, my close friends told me how I looked happier and lighter again, like I had turned from a dark cloud into a ray of sunshine. To this day, I have still never been so sure of anything as I was about that decision. I trusted my gut and I am so glad I did. I have never been happier.
How did I know? How could I have been so sure and confident in making such a massive change in my life? Psychologists posit that the unconscious mind dictates decision-making more than we think. Even when you try to base decisions purely on logic, your subconscious mind nudges you with extra information.
Whatever you believe, here are 3 reasons why you should listen to your intuition:
- Your intuition is shaped by your past experiences, and your existing knowledge which you gained from them.The more experienced you are in the domain you're deciding on, the more accurately your intuition can offer you the most optimal decision. Although it can be useful to seek counsel from others, remind yourself that they don't necessarily know what is best for you. Take their advice into consideration, if they're more experienced than you are. In the end, your heart knows best. You lived your life and fully experienced it, making you the best person to decide what to do next. When it comes to life decisions which involve a lot of feeling and heart, like relationships, only you know what's in your heart. Trust that you have all the knowledge and experience you need to make the decision that's right for you.
- Your intuition is encoded in your brain like "a web of fact and feeling."This is why intuition is so much more powerful than taking advice from someone else. Your intuition connects your body, mind, and spirit, and how those three elements have digested everything from your past. This web of fact and feeling makes you feel expansive, excited, and nervous about a new challenge if it's right. On the contrary, you will feel deflated, lethargic, and terrified if it's wrong.
- Your intuition connects you with all the nerve cells in your body.The butterflies you feel in your tummy—sometimes referred to as a "gut feeling"—before an important decision are a result of feeling the millions of nerve cells in there. The subconscious part of the brain sends signals to the nerves in the tummy to feel that way. What better way to make a decision than to listen to your full being (and not only your mind)?
The key to mastering what I consider the sacred gift of intuition is learning to listen to it. The more attention you give it, the more powerful and accurate it will become. Meditation can help you listen to your intuition more closely because it connects you with your inner being physically, psychologically and spiritually.
Source: Image by Alice Popkorn (Flickr)
Taking time to reflect and simply relax can also help it rise to the surface. Often, we run from one place to another with an endless to-do list; only when we stop running can our mind catch up.
That's when to take a moment to truly listen to your intuition and listen to your heart. As Blaise Pascal wisely said, "The heart has reasons that reason does not understand." And your heart is always right.