Intuition: How to Listen to Your Gut

What is intuition?


Intuition describes those moments when you just know something. Even before you have given it any thought. Intuition is also referred to as having a “gut feeling, a “hunch,” or a “sense.” Like that time when you were introduced to the person you automatically knew was going to be a friend. The time when you were about to get on the road and then changed your mind, and soon after that a storm hit. Or the car you decided not to buy because you had a bad feeling about it. Times when you are presented with a decision and just know what you should do, even without thinking about it, can be chalked up to intuition.


Some people seem to be more intuitive than others. Is it because they have a special gift? Maybe. Or maybe they have learned to listen to that inner voice – their gut – and take it seriously.


Which leads me to the next question: Why should you care about intuition?


Listening to your intuition can help you to take the best care of yourself. Intuition may present itself in the form of thoughts, images, and gut feelings, when you have a choice to make that may affect your health. Intuition is your unconscious mind’s way of helping you to make the healthy choice. Here are some examples: An intuition that your food craving is more about boredom than it is hunger. A gut feeling that a person you have met has had similar experiences so that you could be a support for each other. Or a sense that an activity you are considering could be really beneficial if you took the plunge and got involved in it. Intuition can also help you to recognize situations that might threaten your self-care in some way (e.g. something you shouldn’t be eating or drinking, a negative person or situation, or an activity that might be detrimental to your health). You might even have found that, the longer you have been living with your chronic condition, the stronger your intuition has become.


What about you? How’s your intuition working for you? Most likely, you have lots of examples of times in which you had an intuition about what you could be doing to enhance your own emotional or physical health. But did you recognize that intuition at the time? Or did it slip by you, only to be remembered after the fact? And if you did recognize the intuition, did you trust your intuition enough to follow it?


Intuition is a gift from your unconscious mind. You can learn to recognize those moments of intuition and make use of them to live a healthy life.


Want to know how to make your intuition work for you? Here are some ideas:


Tune in. I often refer to intuition as the “small voice” inside of us. Learn to tune into that small voice, by spending some time each day being quiet and still. Be aware of how you’re feeling, what’s ahead for the day. Review what you need to do to take the best care of yourself. If you do this, you’ll be planting positive intention in your mind. Intuition can blossom from positive intentions.


Practice listening to yourself. Make a conscious decision to listen to your unconscious side. Be more attuned to thoughts and images that pop into your mind. Instead of pushing them out of the way, and letting your mind take over, give yourself a moment to contemplate what might be your intuition at work. It’s as simple as telling yourself: “Wait a second. What was that about?” Don’t try to explain or talk yourself out of those moments of intuition. Instead, let the intuition in and just experience it.


Be aware of your body. Intuition can also present itself through physical sensations. You might feel a change in the way you breathe. Your stomach might clutch or you might feel butterflies (after all, that’s why we call intuition a gut feeling). You might feel your shoulders or another part of your body tensing up. Ask yourself: “Hmmm… is my body trying to tell me something?” Listen to what your body has to say to you.


Go out of your mind. Try to turn off that need to analyze and judge. Focus on what you can learn from an intuition, and less on whether it makes sense or not. What seems logical may not be so logical at all.


Practice. The way your intuition expresses itself is unique to you. Your intuition may come to you in thoughts or ideas. You may get a visual image. It may come to you in physical sensations. Or a combination. As you practice tuning into your own intuition, and listening to it, you’ll also get better at recognizing your own intuition and become more comfortable following it. Be patient with yourself.


Learn to discern. You may be questioning whether what feels like an intuition might instead be wishful thinking or your own fear getting in the way. To be honest, it’s not always easy to tell. After all, humans are pretty good at talking themselves in, or out, of just about anything, and intuition can be as good excuse as any. To help you to know if an intuition is real, look back at past experiences when you had an intuition that you acted on and benefitted in some way. What did the intuition feel like? How was it different from times when you really, really wanted something and talked yourself into going for it, whether it was a good idea or not, or when your fear factor kicked in and you avoided something that might have benefitted you?


Learn to trust. You’ve probably heard this expression before: “Trust your gut.” I’ve said it to myself a few times, and I said it to friends and clients as well. It might take some time and – again – practice to become more comfortable trusting your gut. You might start by trusting your gut in smaller decisions, like introducing yourself to someone, signing up for an exercise class, or choosing what to eat. But not, for example, if you have an “intuition” about quitting your job or buying a sports car. One baby step at a time.


Let go of negativity. When you’re caught up in negative feelings like resentment and anger, your intuition is likely to fail you. That’s because your intuition can’t get through the cloud that negative emotions create in your mind. When you decide not to dwell on whatever is causing the negative feelings, and focus on staying calm and open, you’ll again have access to your intuition.


Open up to your own intuition. Learn to listen. Learn to trust. And then put your intuition to work!