Trust Yourself — 7 Ways to Listen to Your Gut Instinct & Intuition
Learn to trust yourself and kick self-doubt to the curb.
Has anyone ever chided you for making decisions based on gut instinct? In today’s technological world, isn’t it an asset to be more logical, more analytical? Perhaps you feel stuck at times between following your head or your heart, because you don’t trust yourself to make the right decision. Actually, I don’t think success is dependent on being one way or the other. As complex humans, we use both! They complement each other. Never would you want to silence one of your greatest strengths – your inner voice, your sixth sense, your gut, your intuition.
While many people think intuition is only the result of the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision on an unconscious level, there’s more going on than that. There are neurotransmitters in your actual gut that send signals to your brain. They respond to real-time environmental stimuli and emotions. When those neurotransmitters fire you feel sensations of uneasiness. Scientists are calling the gut our second brain. You can know something, without knowing how you know it. You just have to learn to trust yourself!
We often speak of women’s intuition, but men can be powerfully intuitive too. Everyone can increase their intuition or gut instinct.
Here are seven ways you can learn to trust yourself by mindfully enhancing your logical side with your intuitive side…
- Mindfully increase your awareness. Before you make a decision, check in with your gut. It takes discipline to slow down and notice. Yet this is a critical, first step for becoming aware of, and being present with, any inner disturbance. You body will tell you if you’re comfortable with a place, person or decision and if it’s truly in alignment with your highest good. So what are you experiencing – tightness in your neck, queasiness in your stomach, goose bumps, a sour taste in your mouth, or a feeling of relief? Even if it seems to be a great opportunity, if your gut says, “No”, listen to it! As Rumi said, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
- Welcome your inner critic as a friend. It would be a mistake to confuse strong emotions, like fear, desire and panic, for intuition. Strong emotions often come from your inner critic, which sends you a message that kept you safe in the past. But it may no longer be serving you today. When you externalize and personify the inner critic, you recognize it’s an important Part of you that deserves to be heard, but not necessarily taken as the last word. Why? Because there are many more Parts of you that need to be considered, like your intuition, before you make a decision.
- Thank your inner critic for trying to protect you. Lighten the mood by humorously joining with your inner critic and say, “We appreciate your vigilance, but aren’t you exaggerating a little bit?” The better you understand it, the quicker your inner critic will relax.
- Isolate the current situation from past experiences. Of course you want to carefully weigh the consequences of any decision. But take a mindful look at the present situation, without past events clouding your emotions and thoughts. After you observe your body sensations and trace them back to the thoughts creating them, challenge those thoughts to see if they are valid in the current situation. I like how Roy T. Bennett puts it: “You will never follow your own inner voice until you clear up the doubts in your mind.”
- Observe your energy level. Pay attention to whether an activity or person is an energy zapper. If it’s bringing you down, your gut is telling you to assess why and change what you can.
- Capture your flashes. Intuition usually comes in a flash of insight, an Aha moment. When those moments hit, don’t let them escape. Follow through on them.
- Exercise your gut instinct. Thinking alone won’t balance your analytic self and intuitive self. It takes action. Literally. Some of my most intuitive inspirations come from getting away from my office and working out at the gym. Other times, I get intuitive solutions in the shower or when I take a long walk. Times of exercise allow your analytical brain to disengage so your gut instinct can be heard.
Sometimes you need a full detox from your busy life and get back to nature in order to kick start intuition. Begin mindfully noticing each time your gut instinct or intuition is talking to you. When you get that ‘feeling”, trust yourself!
Learning to listen to your body wisdom is pivotal to trusting yourself. Your body sensations are giving you an abundance of information that you can use to make decisions most aligned with your authentic self. If you’d like to fast track your journey to greater self-awareness and self-trust, download an Introduction to my upcoming Stepping Forward Program. It will give you a huge head start!