How to Enhance Your Intuition
We have all heard the wise words, “trust your gut”, “go with the flow”, and “follow your intuition”. But what does this process truly require?
Sure, we are all born with intuition, and presumably we can access it whenever we need it. It’s that inner voice that tells you when you are on the right track, or the wrong one.
But if you’re anything like me, this voice is often overridden by logical or emotional reasoning. You may use your intellect to interpret your intuitive voice in a way that suits an identity with which you have grown comfortable.
Intuition is a balanced combination of both rationality and emotionality, and it is often hugely challenging to discern which is which.
Don’t despair, there are strategies, exercises and tactics we can employ to strengthen our intuitive voice. This work is crucial in combatting anxiety, fear and depression, and developing emotional maturity.
These three techniques will support your intuitive development:
Mindfulness in the form of meditation like a body scan or breathing exercise, or simply a practice of mindful eating or movement (like yoga) is a key component to heighten your intuitive instincts.
Mindfulness trains the brain to observe thoughts and feelings as a bystander, and supports us to disentangle our identities from our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness reminds us that emotions come and go.
When we resist the urge to merge our identity with our thoughts and feelings, we are less likely to allow these circumstantial and fleeting energies to determine our decisions, problem-solving strategies, and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
Then comes Reality Checking. This one can be particularly challenging, depending on how consistently you wield logical and emotional reasoning to justify an identity narrative or belief system.
For example, someone may be seeking to appease their traditional parents, fit into normative standards, and are committed to embodying traditional womanhood or femininity to achieve this.
If this person feels an attraction to another woman or queer person, they may be inclined to repress their sexuality because it triggers cognitive dissonance between who they think they are and the truth of their emotional body. It also threatens to dismantle all that they have known, their support system and emotional bonds. It may trigger an identity crisis and cause nervous system distress.
That is why we are so good at intellectualizing our feelings. In many cases, we have trained ourselves to repress our instincts to secure a sense of belonging. The intuition doesn’t care about social standards or family pressures. To some extent, we have all been actively repressing our intuition in this way for the entirety of our lives.
Intellectualizing your feelings can look like a tendency to immediately find a reason for every feeling that arises.
Suppose you have an important meeting coming up at work. You may experience anxiety that morning, and seek to interpret or rationalize this feeling of unease.
You may suggest to yourself, “I’m a high achiever who is seeking a promotion in this workplace, and I have to prove my professional worth today.”
This reasoning aligns with the identity you have constructed that gains social approval.
However, it is possible that you don’t really want that promotion, and you would rather be creating artwork or music, or are content with your current position and don’t want to pursue management even if it comes with a substantial pay increase.
This is a much harder reality to accept, and it requires rethinking your identity as a high achiever, leadership material and breadwinner. Mindfulness helps to separate the feeling from the stories about the feeling.
Reality checking is about allowing a feeling like anxiety to come up, and resisting the urge to assign that feeling a reason or justification. Observe it, let it be what it is, and ask it what it wants you to know. Then be as open and honest as you can be with yourself.