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How to Listen to Your Intuition: 5 Ways to Trust Your Gut

Your intuition can be a powerful tool to help you make decisions or steer you in the right direction.

You know that moment, the one where you feel your sixth sense kick or that inner voice whispering in your ear? 

That gut instinct, or hunch, may feel as clear as glass looks or as loud as a bullhorn blares. It gives way to a sudden urge or something that you just can’t ignore. Don’t go this way, go that way. 

It’s almost inexplicable how you can suddenly make quick decisions or solutions just speak to you.  It’s just a…feeling.

This feeling is your intuition.  It’s quick, effortless and happens in an almost unconscious nature for no apparent reason, relying very little on your working memory. 

Certain circumstances and especially tough decisions or dangerous situations, will often produce some type of gut feeling in us all. 

But what really are those stomach-swirly feelings and tell-tale signs of internal guessing?

A closer look reveals that those gut feelings are actual physical sensations felt or triggered by your enteric nervous system, commonly referred to as your second brain by researchers. 

The vast neural network lining your digestive track is made up of millions of neurons, which is shockingly more than the number of neurons in your spinal cord!

Yet, despite the existence of all those fiery neurons, the notion of intuition is still dismissed by some, viewing it as hokey or erroneous.

Some studies and research support that intuition not only exists, but when combined with analytical decision making it boosts your accuracy of, and confidence in, the decision itself.

Where does your intuition come from?

This inner wisdom, or inner knowing, is built upon things like your best interest and past experiences, your faith, personal needs, and other life lessons – and it’s ultimately trying to guide you down the right path.  Think of your inner voice as a mentor of sorts.

Bottom line…that uneasy feeling in your stomach is the real deal, laced with good intentions while carrying an intuitive message. And when that little voice is leveraged well, intuition can be a very powerful tool.

But sometimes, it’s not that easy. 

Certain types of situations can be more challenging, and decisions become more complex than just a simple “this way versus that way” type of response.

Potentially life altering choices such as relocating or deciding between job offers, selecting a college or even contemplating divorce may lead to more conscious reasoning.  In an attempt to arrive at the right decision you make observations, ask questions, invent a theory, gather evidence and then decide whether that theory is true or just probable.

But what about that very powerful thing known as your inner voice?  There is a good chance that little voice is trying to signal you in some way.

You feel the pit in your stomach or hear the distant sound of a nagging inner whisper but for some reason you choose to cast it aside and stay right where you are. 

How do you learn to trust your gut when decisions feel more complex, and solutions don’t appear as clear?

Here are 5 ways to listen to your intuition and build more trust with those gut feelings:

1. Pause, slow down and listen

Your inner voice may be trying to speak to you during times of chaos and noise, which makes it difficult to hear and easy to ignore. The first step is to be intentional about taking time to pause. In that moment, be quiet in your thoughts and listen to what they are saying. Subconscious thoughts will remain buried if you don’t allow them the environment to surface. More importantly, a quiet mind will hear intuition over fear.

2. Write down your thoughts

Putting pen to paper allows you to process your thoughts in a more concrete way. Physically seeing your thoughts on paper may provide a different perspective, a dose of reality or even create the confidence to move forward or feel more stable in your decision. Don’t overthink or over complicate what you write. Here are some different ways to incorporate writing in your routine:

  •  Create a simple list of bulleted words or phrases. The best path is sometimes the simplest.  Ask yourself how this situation makes you feel and see what word or words rise to the top.  Your answer may become crystal clear immediately.
  • Develop a pro’s and con’s list. Break down the bigger picture and evaluate all your available options. The right choice may feel clearer once you have had the chance to chunk the situation down and decide what is fear versus fact.
  • Journal once a day for a week. While journaling is a supportive habit for your overall mental health, it can also serve as a way for you to cultivate a strong connection to your own intuition. It creates a space for you to listen to that quiet voice and it’s a great way to see if a certain thought keeps surfacing.

3. Discern fear or self-doubt from inner voice

Intuition is not rooted in negative self-talk and it most certainly not playing the role of inner critic.  It is important to peel away any fear or limiting beliefs from what your inner voice is communicating. 

While fear and self-doubt tend to hold you back and keep you stuck, think of your inner voice as more of a wise mentor looking to guide you forward. Intuition tends to pull you towards a better situation, better decisions, or lead you down a better path that feels right for you. 

There’s a stark difference between fear and intuition. Fear exists to mislead you and keep you where you are, while intuition leads you and questions why you would ever entertain staying in that spot.

Your inner voice nags at you for good reason.  That wise mentor is playing continuously in the background to serve as a reminder that other options or paths exist.

4. Check your values

Revisit your core values as they represent what is most meaningful and important to you. Your inner voice and your subconscious mind carry a constant undertone of those core values. Check-in and evaluate how you feel about a certain situation or decision by reflecting on how the available options or potential paths align with your values.

This free and simple assessment is one of my favorites to help discover and help further define your core values. 

Reminding yourself of what you stand for, or what is most important to you, may help cut through the muck and shed light on a clearer path forward. Suddenly, that inner voice becomes clearer and easier to trust when it aligns with your values.

5. Try it on, see how it fits

Depending on the situation you may have the ability to dip your toes in the water before fully jumping in. If you are contemplating starting your own business then perhaps you can start devoting time, outside of your current job, instead of changing careers cold turkey. You’ll allow yourself to get a realistic sense in a more comfortable way.

Another great way to give you intuition a test run is to try and live for a short period of time as if the decision, or change, has already been made. Think of your available options and mentally role play each one over the course of a few days. Notice how you feel and what you observe as each option plays out in your mind. This is a great way to help decipher fear versus intuition.

Final thought

While your intuition is a very powerful tool, it’s best leveraged in a balanced way alongside rational thinking and conscious awareness.  Intuition exists in all of us, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.  Learning how to trust your inner voice and combining it with analytical thinking will put you in a position to make some of the best decisions!