Stop and get quiet. Ask. Listen.
Intuition is the invisible link between our personal inner world of emotions and thoughts and our outer world connection point through speech and action. Think of it as the infinity sign lying on its side. What’s on the inside, is always communicated to the outside.
Intuition reveals what is really true for us deep down. It illuminates the high road, the graceful path of least resistance, and the route to living in the flow. The word intuition stems from the Latin intuire, which means “knowing from within.” It’s known by many names: inner voice, instinct, gut feeling, sixth sense. Regardless of what we call it, we recognize our heart’s wisdom by the settled “yes” that permeates our being.
We all know when something is absolutely true. In those pristine moments, we are free of doubt. Moments of clarity happen whether it’s a decision over an investment or how to help a friend. Our intuition guides us to what is indisputably true for us.
Making Decisions Based On Our Intuition
When making decisions, we tend to rely on social convention, logic, or impulse. Social convention produces outcomes more likely to please others (and our image of what we think is “right”). Relying on reason bypasses the heart and pushes us to conclusions that sound sensible, but may feel hollow. Impulse simply justifies why it’s okay to do what we want right now regardless of the consequences.
When we get an intuitive hit, we know it. The feeling differs markedly from other ways of making decisions because we’re settled and in sync with ourselves and the world. I jokingly tell clients the way to tell the difference between intuition and mind is that they reside about a foot apart. One comes from the heart, the other from the head.
Intuition sometimes doesn’t have ‘reason’. In fact, it frequently contradicts what we think we want or think we should want. Sometimes it’s a wordless knowing. Other times, it’s known clearly through words.
Intuition taps into universal energy that pervades everything and is greater than ourselves, whether we call it nature, flow, force, or God as a direct line from this wordless, unchanging source. Our inner voice is a dependable compass amid changing circumstances. It is authentic and kind, promoting harmony and unity, never harm. It advocates connection over separation; love over selfishness.
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Intuition Is Constructive Sage Advice
It’s unlikely we were taught to value, contact, or listen to our intuition. We’re used to going about our lives in uncertainty, out of touch with our hearts, and at the whim of our fickle minds. Our clogged up sadness, anger, and fear causes an inability to hear our intuition. When that happens, it’s hard to listen, much less heed, our inner compass. We’re got thick mud in places we didn’t know existed. Caught in the gunk of unrealistic expectations and unfounded projections, what we know deep down is obscured. We then operate from destructive feelings, such as insecurity, impatience, and the need to control.
If we hold fast to what we know is true in our quiet moments, we can stay safe and strong amidst any storm. So often clients say to me, “I don’t know what I want,” or “I don’t know what to do.” My years as a psychotherapist have shown me people find it difficult to hear their inner voices in the grip of unexpressed emotions. More often than not, they really do know what’s true for them but are afraid to say it or act on it.
Intuition is not a momentary whim or a vague metaphysical concept. It is sage advice that urges us in the direction of what is good for us in the long-term. It is always constructive, automatically factoring in all possible outcomes. When we speak or act in a way we later regret, we know we aren’t heeding our intuition.
Following intuition means letting go of “my way” ego thinking, “shoulds,” and what seems fair or unfair. It means obeying what we hear within. When we do, confusion, doubt, and indecision evaporate. Your actions — taking your child to soccer practice when you’re exhausted, or choosing not to run a marathon because of an injury — pave the way for more constructive things to follow.
Is It Really Your Intuition?
Obeying what we hear within, no matter what others think, ensures we’ll be at peace and aligned with our inner selves. We’re connected, grounded, self-assured.
But how do you know if the voice you’re hearing really represents your deepest truth? It is possible to mistake impulse, whim, or mere self-interest for true intuitive wisdom. Any directive that disrespects or injures yourself, others, or things of value is not coming from your intuition. If what you hear promotes harm or selfish interests, you can conclude that it’s motivated by unexpressed sadness, anger, and fear.
“But wait,” you might say, “if my intuition is directed toward taking care of myself, why isn’t it selfish?” Here’s a clue: your intuition never going to ask, “What’s in it for me?” That way of seeing the world comes out of unexpressed anger. Your intuition is bigger than that. It’s always in line with what brings joy, love, and peace.
Use your inner barometer to find the answer to any type of question, even something as mundane as “Should I take a nap or mow the lawn?” It can be used for practical situations, such as deciding when to buy a new car, or critical decisions, such as deciding whether to leave your marriage. Or it can be used to get answers to one of the most profound questions of all: “What is the purpose of my life?”
Your Intuition is Your “I”
I call what’s true for you, what your intuition reveals, your “I.” Knowing your “I” creates strength to speak and act. It’s an unshakable foundation from which you operate. Once you’ve found your “I,” you clarify boundaries between yourself and others, set goals and priorities, and make decisions. You proceed with confidence, knowing you’re honoring yourself (the first ultimate attitude).
The gift of rock-solid advice to make decisions and get perspective is always within you. Aligning with your “I” brings peace. No more worries or second-guessing. It brings love, because you know you’re doing what is constructive and good. It brings joy, because it feels so good to be centered and in your personal integrity.
To get acquainted with this resource, pause, ask yourself a question, and then remain open to hear the answer. The more you listen to your inner voice, the more your choices align with the three ultimate attitudes: honor yourself, accept other people and situations, and reside in the present moment.
Using Your Intuition is a Skill
You can tap into your inner knowledge any moment you want to. Whether you’re debating revving up on a third cup of coffee, dating an unavailable man (for say, the tenth time now), or fudging your income taxes, if you chose to listen within, you will get some really helpful information. You really do know the answer. Intuition is always at the ready.
Like any other skill, contacting your inner voice gets better and easier with practice. Consulting your intuition becomes second nature, and as your point of reference changes, you’ll no longer waste time justifying your position to others. When your intuition illuminates what’s true for you and you’ve learned to trust it, the need for validation from others lessens. Your life ceases to be driven by wouldas, couldas, or shouldas.
As you give credence to what you hear, self-confidence grows. You slowly develop the faith that no matter what transpires or what emotions arise, you’ll be all right if you stay true to what you know in your heart.
Learning to hear your intuition requires a one hundred and eighty degree turn from “out there” to “in here.” The process is straightforward but takes practice. Here’s how to start:
1. Stop and be quiet.
Your inner voice resides in silence so you have to slow yourself down. First, calm your body so your mind becomes more settled. Shivering vigorously for a minute will remove emotional static, as will shedding a few tears or pushing against a doorjamb. Taking several deep breaths also temporarily quiets your mind and body so you can be fully present. Accompany your soothing, centering activity by repeating truths: “Everything will be all right. One thing at a time. I know what I know.”
2. Ask your question.
If you’ve never consciously called on your intuition, start with something small and immediate, such as whether you should call in sick at work. Pose your question. You might try one of these:
- What’s true for me about this specific topic?
- What do I want?
- What do I need?
- What do I feel?
- What do I need to do?
Or try a more specific question, such as:
- Do I need to talk to my husband about what I’m feeling?
- What do I need to do about my bad knee?
- Should I work out after work tonight?
3. Be open and listen for the answer.
It doesn’t have to be profound; it’s simply what you know beneath the mental chatter and opinions of others. One of the biggest clues that you’re hearing intuition is that it feels right in your body. Hearing your heart’s truth brings a peaceful inner sensation, a relaxing, freeing, “yes” feeling.
How does it sound to you when you say it out loud? The wisdom of your inner voice rings pure and truthful. There’s no mind noise. It brings an expansive, tranquil feeling.
Messages from your heart don’t begin with “I guess...” or “I think I should...” or “I’d better...” That’s your mind talking. If the answer is complicated, you can be sure you aren’t hearing your intuition. Likewise, if what you hear sounds flat or empty, or has a negative edge or tone, you still haven’t contacted your inner voice.
If you’re having trouble accessing your intuition, shiver, then gently ask your question again. More likely than not, you already do know the answer. Just stop telling yourself that you don’t.
Ask, “What’s true for me about this specific topic?” If you doubt the answer, you can subject it to the scrutiny by asking again. If you’ve heard your intuition, you’ll get the same answer. If not, you’ll hear rationalizations or justifications.
Do the same if you aren’t getting a clear communication: ask yourself after expressing your emotions. Or set a specific time in the future to ask again. Some people recommend asking once a day and then giving it a rest. Be diligent in your inner inquiry, and something will emerge even if it is that it’s not time to know yet.
You can also rid yourself of emotional interference by using your thoughts. If, for example, you’re bombarded by negative self-talk “I can’t decide,” “It doesn’t matter,” or “I don’t care,” power on truths such as:
- I can find the answer.
- This is important.
- I care.
As you repeat these statements, be sure to nod your head up and down, not side to side. You can also gently but persistently ask yourself:
- What do I know when I’m clear?
- What does the best of me say to do about this?
- What’s true for me about this?
Using Your Intuition as an Anchor
Your inner voice functions as an anchor, keeping you steady through the ups and downs of events and emotions. Emotional turbulence, especially fear, impels you to move so quickly that it doesn’t even cross your mind to stop and check within. The consequence is you lose touch with what you know.
For example, if a man remembers that his wife and children are his number-one priority, it’s easier for him to turn down an invitation to join a softball team with three practices a week. Similarly, remembering what you know deep down will prevent you from making that late-night telephone call to restart a relationship you know is over.
To combat doubt about your intuition’s messages, repeat:
- This is what is true for me.
- This feels right.
- Everything will be all right.
Your intuition will keep you centered and connected during emotional moments if you write down what your inner voice tells you. During an emotional deluge when losing track of your convictions, you can check out what you wrote. Compile a list of what you tend to forget and what’s true for you, and refer to it often.
Jude answers questions about using your intuition: Obeying Your Intuition Can Bring Up Emotions, Fear, Doubts, Criticism...
©2011 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace