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Trust Your Gut: 5 Ways To Strengthen Your Intuitive Instincts

From the everyday to the big stuff, making decisions is a regular and important part of our lives. Sometimes we use our rational and analytical mind to think things over, weigh out pros and cons and get a better sense of the why and how before we take action. And sometimes, we “just know“.

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There are many theories about what intuition actually is, some based completely in science, others in spirituality and others yet that are a mix of the two. For our purposes, I’m just going to say that intuition can be considered subconscious information that helps guide us to an answer before the conscious brain has a chance to catch up. This results in you “knowing” the answer before you necessarily have a chance to understand the why or how.

Regardless of what you refer to it as or how you define it, exactly, that just knowing feeling is an extremely valuable and critical process. Unfortunately, as we live in an age where looking for answers outside of ourselves is as easy as asking our phones, we are becoming more reliant on external sources of information to give us direction than ever before. It’s quick, easy and takes the pressure off of us to make decisions about our lives, which often is associated in some way with the fear of being wrong. But our internal source of knowing, our gut instinct, can be one of the most important sources of guidance in times of healing, change and growth. Because Google can’t always provide us with the unique and individual answers we are seeking in our lives. Sometimes, in order for us to walk our own paths we have to look inside and make the choice that speaks to us from deep within. Sorry, Siri.

Since strengthening the ability to tap into our intuition is a vital part in becoming our best, whole selves I’ve listed 5 ways you can practice tuning in to your inner voice.

Get to Know How Your Intuition Speaks

Our intuition can speak to us in many ways. And there isn’t always a clear cut answer to a question or a problem, so we need to learn to pay attention to subtle ways in which it communicates. Sometimes our intuition speaks to us through coincidences, physical sensations (like a shiver, butterflies in the stomach), or emotional sensations (a rush of joy). It can show up through dreams, meditations or everyday signs and symbols. And sometimes, it speaks to us through a deep sense of knowing or certainty that we can’t quite explain.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As with anything else, strengthening intuitive thinking takes training. It can be very helpful to regularly schedule time in your day to sit or lie down, turn off any outside distraction and tune in to what is going on inside. First thing in the morning or right before bed are great times, as the bridge between your conscious and subconscious minds is more accessible (this is also why watching/reading the news at these times is often discouraged).  This is a purposeful activity, so feel free to ask yourself a question or think about a situation that you are dealing with and simply notice what comes up for you. There is no right or wrong way to do this. If it helps, below is an excerpt of one of my own experiences with this practice;

  • Deep breath
  • I can feel my heart beating. It seems faster than normal.
  • I notice my stomach has a knot in it.
  • Deep breath x 2
  • The knot has lessened but is still there. I can now also feel the knot in my neck.
  • I’m having the thought I really wonder what this stomach thing is about, and how do I deal with it.
  • I imagine a ball, sitting in my stomach. I pay further attention and notice that it looks and feels like a bowling ball.
  • I’m having the thought What is that?

As you can see the process is pretty fluid, and I don’t dictate what happens next. I simply pay attention and go with wherever my mind and body take me. By the end of the practice, I may either have a takeaway that I write down immediately, or I don’t, at which point I tell myself that I will receive the insight when the time is right.

Read: The Busy Person’s Guide to Practicing Mindfulness

Write it Down

Studies have shown that intuitive insights can come and go quite quickly (37 seconds, to be exact), so it’s important to take note when you receive them. As you begin to tune in to how your own intuition guides you, write down anything that comes up.  I often carry a small journal with me (because I am nostalgic and love putting pen to paper), but I also have whiteboards in my kitchen and office that I will use to jot down insights right when they come to me. Having a way to organize spontaneous thoughts or realizations on your phone can also be extremely valuable. There are some great apps that can help you to organize all of your thoughts; I’ve heard great things about Evernote.

Act on Your Answers

Just as listening to your intuition is an active process, so is what you do with what comes up. If you get a gut feeling about something try using a behavioural experiment and test to see what happens. What is a behavioural experiment? Ask yourself this question, if this gut feeling were true how would I act on it?  And then you choose an action that is linked to the thought or insight  If you have some reservations about this, start small. By doing something in response to your intuitive direction you are strengthening the link and opening yourself up to receive further insights.

Trust Yourself

We often have an easier time seeing others as experts, and are therefore more willing to follow the advice of other people versus ourselves. But it’s very important to learn to see yourself as the authority on your own life, for the simple fact that it’s yours and no one else’s. The more you learn to trust your instincts, the more you trust yourself. And the more you trust and accept yourself as a strong and knowing force, the more authentic fulfillment you will have in life.

As a final thought, I encourage you to be patient with yourself. As with strengthening any part of ourselves, it takes time and practice. So please be compassionate and enjoy the process!

How does intuition show up in your life? And what do you do with that “just knowing” feeling? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

~ Melissa
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  • Reply
    Amanda Dyer
    June 20, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    This is a really interesting post, I feel that I more often go with my gut instinct than not, but I know that isn’t the norm.

    • Reply
      June 21, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      It’s great to hear that you trust and go with your gut on the regular, Amanda! You’re right, it’s not the norm for a lot of people. Is this something you’ve always done or a lesson you learned along the way?

  • Reply
    Sarah Tamsin
    June 20, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Techniques like these definitely need practice. I personally find it very difficult as I have lots of stress and anxiety – my brain easily wanders and I’m not mindful of what’s happening in the moment. I’ve started writing down my random thoughts, it’s definitely been helping too 🙂

    • Reply
      June 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      That’s a fantastic step, Sarah! And glad to hear it’s been helping. I can completely relate to an anxious and wandering mind, which is why I never have expectations for practicing any type of mindfulness, I can just let my mind do what it needs to do. I sometimes find that we have a tendency to want to avoid all of our stressful thoughts in our heads, which just makes things harder…so I love that you’re doing the opposite! Giving them a voice, temporarily, and “thought dumping” no matter how random, can be extremely beneficial.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Listen to yourself!! So important…. Im much better at this now, at almost 50. Hoping to teach my daughters to hone in and trust their instincts sooner.

    • Reply
      June 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      What a beautiful life lesson to be instilling in your daughters, Kimberly. It is absolutely a life long journey, but you’re absolutely right, having trust and faith in ourselves from an early age can make a huge difference along the way.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Great tips. You’re right about not having enough faith in ourselves and always looking to others for advice. I should really practice trusting myself more.

    • Reply
      June 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Jos, I think that is an awesome takeaway. Learning to trust ourselves can be tough, especially if we’ve been relying on others for a while, but it’s absolutely possible. You’ve got a lot of wisdom inside of you and so much to offer the world, remember that.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I’d love to be able to trust my gut more when I meet someone but I nearly always tend to be wrong about them… That’s why I need to follow the practice steps you offered 🙂

  • Reply
    June 22, 2017 at 12:59 am

    This was actually a super informative post. I’ve never really thought about training myself to these type of things but I’m definitely going to start. Good thing I just bought a new notebook I can write down in :p

    • Reply
      June 22, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Look at that, your new notebook is going to get some good use right out of the gate! That’s awesome. I’m so glad you found this useful. I don’t think many of use are taught the idea that we can train and strengthen our instincts, but it makes complete sense. Every other animal relies on their instincts to survive and thrive, and we are completely capable of tuning in to our more primal way of thinking as well.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2017 at 1:22 am

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing your tips!



    • Reply
      June 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Lisa. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply
    June 22, 2017 at 2:09 am

    My most valuable but hardest lessons were learned from not listening to my “gut”. I now know better and listen to it everytime.

    • Reply
      June 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      You and me both, Jody. Life truly is about the journey, and the lessons we learn along the way are meant to bring us closer to our best selves. But damn, sometimes I just wish there was an “easy” button, don’t you? lol

  • Reply
    Latasha Peterson
    June 22, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Awesome technique! Trusting yourself is so important and can totally help with trusting your gut more! 🙂

    • Reply
      June 22, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Agreed! And who couldn’t use a little more of that?! 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind words.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I definitely trust my gut. It does take practice, but at least I feel that the decisions I make are my own.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    September 3, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Hi Melissa 🙂
    For many years, I listened to my instinct. It came to me as an almost overwhelming feeling deep inside of what to do or how to respond. It’s a feeling I truly love.
    However, as with life, I listened to someone I thought was trustworthy who continually doubted or ridiculed my instinct. Because I had put my guard down and gave this person trust, I also gave away/lost contact with my intuition, which I always considered a gift (nothing supernatural,🙂)
    Now, as time goes and I realize the enormity of my error, I find myself struggling simply to regain the confidence I once enjoyed.
    I believe by regaining my confidence I will also feel the strength of my intuition returning.
    Thank you and Blessed Be 🤗

    • Reply
      September 7, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Sandy, thank you so much for your beautiful words. I am so sorry to hear of your lost confidence and trust in your own voice and intuition. It truly is one of the greatest gifts that we possess in life. It is an unfortunate truth that in our efforts to love and trust in the world (and people) around us, to become vulnerable and allow others into our hearts and lives, we may also come across circumstances and people that through their own insecurity and feelings of self doubt and shame, act in ways that can rattle and disrupt our own peace and grounding. And yet, if there is one thing I know to be true, it is that whenever we fall down we are also given the opportunity to stand up once again, and to move forward with a sense of strength and resilience that connects us even more deeply with ourselves and the world at large.
      Wishing you joy and strength as you continue on in your journey.

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