In ancient times following your intuition was normal and part of life. For some people in the world it is still the most natural thing. So natural that they wouldn’t even name it intuition or talk about it. For them it is as natural as knowing that it is good to eat when you are hungry.
So what changed?
Why has it become so difficult for us to follow our intuition? What is intuition actually and how can we follow it? Should we even follow it? These are the questions I answer in this article.
What is your intuition?
Many people have different ways of explaining what your intuition is. If you would google it there would come up different answers. The way I like to explain it, is that your intuition is a sense that you have about something, without being able to logically explain. There is no analytical reasoning about it. It is a kind of knowing, understanding or feeling that you have.
For example: you are having a meeting with someone and on the way there you feel the person will be late. There is no logical explanation why you would feel or think that. That person is never late, nonetheless, it quickly passed your mind. When you arrive at the place, the person is not there yet and also came a bit later.
Another example: someone is telling you a story of what happened to them and you love the story! You are asking questions and you are all ears. Simultaneously, you have a feeling that what the person is telling you is not entirely true. You just dismiss that feeling and continue listening.
You just dismiss that feeling and continue listening… Why? Why do we do that?
When did we stop following our intuition?
In the Western world, or let’s say, in the Western “mindset” (because it goes across borders), everything cognitive and rational is celebrated. Everything logical and provable is the way to go! When it is something we feel or know in another way, it is not as valid. Unconsciously or consciously, society looks at ratio as superior compared to emotions or intuition. This is exactly one of the reasons why we stopped listening to our intuition.
We are raised to fit in a certain society, a society that values one thing more than another. A lot of our parents or teachers also didn’t follow their intuition. Often they said and did what was expected or what they learned themselves. They raised us so we would be able to continue our lives as decent adults. In a way this is normal because we need to be able to function in a society and live together.
But when this conditioning is taken too far, as human beings we start to follow the external voice more than the inner voice. For example: ‘as a child you feel you want to draw a tree, but the teacher says everyone needs to draw a flower’ or ‘you feel you want to draw a tree but the teacher says it is better to draw a flower’.
When a child follows its inner voice or intuition, often it isn't encouraged. It needs to stay in the box. It needs to listen to that external voice. At the same time we are also raised to rationally think about everything. Countless repetitions of these experiences teach us that it’s better to listen to someone else or to what our ratio says, then to our own intuition.
So, where in our upbringing did we learn to follow or listen to our intuition then?
What does it mean to follow your intuition?
As said, in the Western world there is a lot of mental/cognitive/rational energy. We didn’t learn how to follow our intuition, so we suppressed that side of us. Depending on the beliefs you have and how you grew up, the process of following your intuition will be different for you than for someone else.
To follow your intuition there are basically three important things: feeling and recognizing your intuition, believing and trusting in it and following it instead of dismissing it.
So, how to follow your intuition?
1. Feeling and recognizing your intuition
To follow your intuition it is important that you can recognize it. A lot of people are confused and don’t know what their intuition feels like or how it manifests itself in their lives. We should understand that intuition works differently for everyone. Some people will receive messages in their mind, other people will feel something in their body.
And this brings me to the different ways of how we can receive information intuitively. Maybe you have heard of the different ‘clairs’: clairvoyance, clairaudience, claircognizance and clairsentience. They are often related to psychics, but we all are sensitive in some way. It can really help to understand where your strength lies, because your intuition will most possibly work through that channel.
When your clairvoyance is strong you are very visual. You see images in your minds eye or you see images or even a movie when someone tells you a story. It’s also possible that just one image comes or your dreams are very clear. With clairaudience, you hear something in your mind, as if something or someone is speaking to you. You basically hear something that for others would be inaudible. When you are stronger in claircognizance you have a very strong, peaceful, inexplicable knowing of something and with clairsentience you feel things in your body. This can manifest itself with getting chills, or feeling certain pains in your body. Often we are strong in one or two of these ’clairs’ but there is a certain awareness or mindfulness necessary to help consciously receive these messages. Maybe you feel things in your body, but are you mindful about them? Do you listen to it?
What happens a lot is that people experience something that they think is their intuition. But then they start doubting. “Is this my intuition? Oh no, maybe it is just me making it up.” or “maybe it’s just my fear speaking”. A way to distinguish for yourself if it is your intuition or fear is to ask yourself: am I overthinking the whole time? Or is there peace to it? Intuition often is wise and peaceful. It is a strong, deeper knowing. Fear and the mind often overthink and are worried. Therefore intuition is also quite often the first message, image or sign that comes up. The thoughts afterwards are your mind trying to make sense of it.
2. Believing and trusting in your intuition
If you have a belief inside of you that doesn’t trust intuition or doesn’t believe in intuition, it will be very difficult for you to follow your intuition. Getting to know that belief, where it comes from and working around it will be your first step.
Sometimes it is not even necessary to know where your belief comes from. It can clarify things, but the most important part is to recognize your beliefs around intuition and to tackle them when they don’t serve you in the process of wanting to connect to your intuition.
To believe and trust in your intuition it is good to understand why it can improve your life. Your intuition can give you confidence in your decision making process, because you connect with a deeper, inner wisdom. It can also help you to live your purpose because your intuition often guides you to what’s good for you and your true calling
Some people are scared to trust their intuition because of past experiences, because of fear that comes up, because of not knowing if it is really intuition or their desire. It is normal to not know the differences right away. Intuition is like a muscle. You can train this intuition muscle until it is stronger. If you have a lot of doubts around your own intuition skills, it might be smart to start with small exercises to train your intuition. The more you train it, the stronger it will become and the easier it will be for you to trust it.
3. Following your intuition instead of dismissing it
After recognizing your intuition and making the decision to trust it, there is one step left: follow it! Sometimes we have this gut feeling, we know deep down what the right decision is or what should happen. This is our intuition giving us information! But what do we do too many times? We neglect it. It is more comfortable to neglect it sometimes. Sometimes we prefer not to see. Sometimes dismissing our intuitive feelings makes it easier, as if it is the way with least resistance or conflict. But do we really benefit from it, in the long run?
In neglecting our intuition, we neglect a big part of ourselves, we neglect what is good for us or what we need. This means following your intuition is also a self care practice. It is a big way to show yourself love.
How do you exercise your intuition?
Here you find some small exercises that can help to train your intuition, to connect with it or to follow it:
As said above, following your intuition can start with small things. Next time when you go to the supermarket, don’t follow a list of things you need to buy, but tune in with yourself, with your intuition: what do I need to buy today? And let yourself be guided. Maybe your body walks somewhere automatically, maybe you see some images, or you can taste coffee in your mouth which means maybe you should buy some coffee.
The same exercise can be done when you have some time for yourself. Instead of planning it, leave it open and ask yourself that moment: what should I do now? And wait for some answers to come. And most of all: BELIEVE the answers that come! You can write them down or right away act on it.
Sit down, with your eyes closed and think about something you are scared of? If there is nothing recent, maybe there is something from the past or future that you can imagine… How does that feel in your body? Try to observe the feeling of fear. The more you get to know this feeling, the more you can recognize it when you are trying to find out if you are feeling fear or if it is your intuition talking.
If you have difficulties with believing or trusting your intuition because you have a lot of judgments about it - or because a lot of rationalization kicks in -, take some time to write down all the beliefs you have about intuition. When you are done, try to tackle these beliefs by looking at it with other eyes. What can help is to imagine you are someone from another culture who grew up trusting their intuition.
5. You can also try to practice your intuition in different ways. For example when you will experience something, like reading a specific book, you can try to check in with your intuition and listen to anything that comes up around that book or you reading that book. Maybe you see something visual, get a feeling or hear some words. Whatever comes up is welcome and valid. You can even write it down, forget about it and at the end of reading that book, you can check your list again. You can also do this for a party you are going to or for a new hobby you are trying out or a phone call you need to make. This exercise is also really good to distinguish if you are feeling fear about something or if it is your intuition.
Let me know if you tried some of the exercises and how your intuition journey is going !
If you want to grow in your intuition, I offer intuitive coaching sessions. In these sessions I use my own intuition (and clairvoyance and clairsentience) and I guide you in learning to use your own intuition more and more. It’s beautiful to witness how people grow during sessions like these!
Thank you for reading!!
Until the next, Ama