9 Ways to Tap Into Your Intuition (And Why You’ll Want To)

9 Ways to Tap Into Your Intuition (And Why You'll Want To)

You know the feeling. It’s a ‘knowing’ or at the very least a gentle persuasion that something is off, or awesome, or needs our attention. It’s subtle and doesn’t clamour for attention, which is why it’s easily missed.

It’s intuition, and like most things that speak with a quiet voice, if we listen the potential is life-changing.

For a long time, intuition was dismissed by science as pseudo-science – sort of science but not really. Really! Fortunately for all of us, science is now on board and researchers have found the part of the brain where intuition does its brilliant best. 

Intuition: We’ve all heard of it, but what is it?

Researchers at Leeds University analysed a hefty pile of research papers on intuition. They concluded that intuition is a very real psychological process where the brain uses past experiences and cues from the self and the environment to make a decision. The decision happens so quickly that it doesn’t register on a conscious level.

Intuition exists in all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not. The more we can learn about it, the more we can use it to shape our lives for the better.

The human brain has two ‘operating systems’. The first is quick, instinctual and effortless. This is where our intuition lies. Intuition works by drawing on patterns collected by our experience and when we have to make a quick decision about whether something is real, fake, feels good, feels bad, right or wrong, we draw on these patterns.  It all happens ‘offline’, outside our conscious awareness.

The second operating system is slower to respond. It’s more analytical and deliberate and it’s conscious.

The Evidence

Science has found real evidence to support the existence of intuition. There are plenty of studies, but let’s talk about one in particular – because it’s a good one. This particular study showed how the intuitive part of our brain knows the right answer long before the more analytical part.

In this study, participants played a card game which, unknown to the participants, was rigged from the beginning. Participants had to choose from one of two decks of cards. One was rigged to provide big wins, then big losses. The other – small gains but hardly any losses. 

The participants reported that after 50 cards, they had a hunch about which deck was safer. After 80 they were able to explain the difference between the two decks. But here’s where it gets interesting – after only 10 cards, the sweat glands on on the palms of their hands opened whenever they took from  the dangerous deck. It was about then that participants started to prefer the safer deck but there was no conscious awareness that this was happening. So, before the analytical part of their brain knew what was going on, the subjects’ intuition guided them towards a better decision.

Sharpening Your Intuition

Every person on the planet has intuition but not every person listens chooses to listen to it. 

Intuition is the way the subconscious mind communicates with the conscious mind. The information that informs ‘that feeling’ is real. It’s like any other decision but the workings of it – the collection, the storage, the putting together – happen outside of our conscious mind. 

So intuition is a brilliant thing. The sharper it is, the better off you’ll be. Here’s how to feed yours so it’s flourishing and ready to advise … 

  1. Shhh. Listen.

    It’s sounds simple enough – and it is. No tricks here. Your intuition can’t talk to you if you’re not listening. When you start to take notice, good things will happen. Just try it and see.

  2. Trust your gut feeling.

    When a word like ‘gut’ teams up with a word like ‘feeling’, you know there has to be a good reason. And there is. Research suggests that emotion and intuition have a physical presence in our gut. The gut is lined with a network of neurons and is often referred to as the ‘second brain.’ It’s known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it contains about 100 million neurons, which is more than the spinal chord and peripheral nervous system but less than the brain. This is why we get ‘sick’ about having to make a tough decision or knowing we’ve made a bad one.

    [irp posts=”1021″ name=”The Rules for Being Human”]

  3. Feel.

    You’ll know your intuition is there because you’ll be able to feel it – if you let yourself. You’ll feel it in your belly and it will goosebump your skin, send a shiver down your spine, race your heart and quicken your breath. Sometimes it’s even more subtle and the only way to describe it as a ‘knowing’.  You’ll feel when something is right – it will feel clear, nourishing and enriching. And you’ll feel when something is off – for me it’s an ache or a flattening. Trusting your intuition might be difficult at first if you’re not used to it, but give it time and trust it bit by bit, if that feels better. It will be worth it.

  4. Be ready to let bad feelings go.

    Negative emotions wil cloud intuition, which is why when you’re angry or depressed bad decisions can happen so easily. Research has backed this, finding that people made better intuitive choices in a word task when they were in a positive mood as compared to when they were in a negative mood. 

  5. Be deliberate about the people you hang on to.

    People who drain you will add to the noise and make it more difficult to hear what your intuition wants you to hear. Chances are that you already know how they are. If not, be still for a moment – your intuition will be trying to tell you. Keep people who enrich and empower you and walk away from those who drain you. Understandably, you can’t always walk away from the troublesome ones and if that’s the case, empower yourself by making it your decision to stay, rather than not theirs because they’ve taken your choice. The difference is subtle in language but big in impact. One lets the power stay with you, one gives it over to them.

  6. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.

    The more information you are able to gather from the environment, the more the intuitive, subconscious part of your brain has to work with – and the more accurately it will inform your decisions.

  7. Connect with others.

    There are so many things that inform our opinions and decisions other than speech. Tone, volume of speech, body language, gestures – they all contribute to the meaning we give to our interactions with people. Sometimes, we have a feeling about people but can’t quite put a finger on what it is. People might seem distant, distracted, uninterested, and often these aren’t spoken but are ‘picked up’ through in different ways. The ability to pick up on the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others is referred to as ‘empathic accuracy’. The more time we spend with people, the more we can finely tune or empathic accuracy. Being able to pick on the signals of others will all add to intuition.

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  8. Find time to be silent and still.

    Having solitude turns down the clamour of the world and allows you to tune in to your intuition. Our intuition is always sending warnings and encouragement but often we are too busy to notice. Let your mind wander and be open to what comes to you – feelings, thoughts or words. One of the ways to do this is through mindfulness. By focusing your thoughts on your own experience in the present moment, mindfulness gets rid of mental clutter and makes way for you to connect with your intuition.

  9. Use your dream time well. 

    Dreams are the brain’s way of processing information that’s left over from the day. They are rich with valuable data – experiences, memories, learnings – so they can work hard if we let them. Paying attention to dreams can provide information that we may not have access due when we are awake. Before you fall asleep, turn your thoughts to any unresolved issues or problems. Think about possible options or resolutions as you’re falling asleep. Close your eyes and let your brain do the rest. 

But of course …

Intuition is powerful and can lead to amazing insights, but that doesn’t mean you follow it blindly. It’s still important to use common sense and a balance of rationality. You need a balance of both – call into play both the intuitive and rational parts of the brain to position yourself to reach the best decisions.

19 Comments

Crystal A

I have always known I have had high intuition since I around 10 years old. The biggest one was a few weeks ago. I had my neice over to my house, and she asked to sleepover. I told her she would have to get her fathers permission. She texted her father, and he did not respond. So, a few hours later I texted him. No responce. Then a few hours later I had threurge to text to ask if he was ok. Finally at around 10:30 his sister called me, and said there was a family emergency. They were coming to pick her up. I went outside to smoke, and calm myself. He has a criminal history, but at this time they said a family emergency. Not that he was having the emergency. I knew he was having heart issues. I immediately thought he is in jail, or hosptial with heart issues. These oprions did not feel right. I was urged from inside to see if there were any shootings in MN that night, and even called the hospital to check. The hospital said they did not have a person by that name, but inside I knew he was the one shot and killed from what I found on google. My bf said no, there are millions of ppl in MN that is not him. I said yes it is! I am sure of it. He was shot and killed that night. Bf asked if I was psyhic.

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Alex

I have been practicing this for a few months now but I’m curious if you or someone could help me with one question; how do you know to trust it’s your intuition guiding you from reoccurring past situations or just something you want to believe? Do we just acknowledge the past reoccurrences and let go to trust whatever happens happens? Since every situation can be different and not follow old patterns.

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Lillian B

What about conflicting feelings? If I leave a situation that feels draining for certain reasons, or from certain people, yet I still get the ache you describe from a bad decision?

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Kristina

I met a lady today for a job/paid hobby I do, she asked to reduce my price on my booking page and pay cash and my gut instinct immediately started feeling off. I’ve never felt this way before but this particular person set off my internal alarm bells. I’m wondering if you have any insight as to why that could be and if I’m potentially overreacting or I should definitely be listening when they’re such strong negative vibes towards the situation

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NANDANA PRAKASHAN

it is absolutely correct that, our body will react to feelings…

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Peggy B

Just found your article while searching information about; Intuition vs Leading. While in a conversation I suggested I was “lead” not to walk the same path on the way home. My companion said, “Was it your intuition that spoke to you?” In my opinion I see my intuition and my leadings as different. It was difficult for me to explain the difference to her. I appreciate your articulation of intuition in this article. I would be interested in knowing if you feel there is a difference between intuition and leading. For me a “leading” is almost as if you know something is going to happen before it happens but you have no way of know in advance or of checking it out in advance and you don’t know what is going to happen and you don’t even think of wondering if something is going to happen. You simply know you want to do a certain thing (because it is presented to you in knowing or leading) and you chose to do it.

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Phoenix the Elder

Just a note of clarity, the empath and the intuitive are not the same, you have some crossovers here. These two neither operate the same way, nor express it in the same way. A police officer and a psychic are classic intuitives but not empaths. A seer and a dreamer are empaths but not intuitives. Dreamtime can only be accessed by a fully enlightened human being, but dreams and dreaming can be done by every. There is much more of course but great job and blessings.

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Nancy

I am 71 and have always almost feared my intuition. I finally realized it is not so unusual. It came to me that it is more than physical and mental. It is actually a process,a way of thinking and physically knowing beyond doubt. We all collect info. in many ways. Some collect more and store it. Somehow we process the info. and instinctively know all possible results. It is then that the brain, gut ,and senses kick in all at once and we “know” and react or speak or write. That is the best understanding I have of intuition.
It seldom fails me and I share it.

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Shelly Brockman

I needed to find this today. Thank you. I always enjoy reading your posts.

I’m going to share this one, my intuition tells me others need to read this too.

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Turenne

Intuition or inner feelings, I call it dance spirit. It seems one and the same. It is about listening to our body’s reaction! Right?

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Hey Sigmund

Absolutely. It’s about listening to our body’s reaction and the thoughts that whisper. (And I love the name dance spirit!)

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Turenne

Hi Karen,
It is so interesting to see that we are on the same page, and can agree on it, even though the vocabulary is a bit different.

I find that 7 of the 9 ways you are showing on how to tap into our intuition are truly our dance spirit legacy. I really enjoy the article and appreciate the insights about our dreams and our brains process, and being deliberate about the people we hang on to.

Thanks !

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Chay Wise

I just found this website. I believe it will be a great resource for my readers. Thank you!

So you will know ….. I give credit to all websites with clicks on the pictures and verbiage. So, each time I find something I believe my readers will like, then I refer them to your site to complete reading.

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If we want our kids and teens to take our guidance into brave behaviour, they have to know that we see what they’re worried about - that we truly get it - and that we still know they can do this and that they’ll cope with whatever happens, because they will.

The brain and body respond the same to physical threats (being chased by a bear) as it does to psychological threats (hard things, new things, brave things). So just because the brain has registered a threat, doesn’t mean it is a threat.

Kids need to know that anxiety has nothing to do with strength, courage, character, and it is absolutely not a sign that they can’t cope. It’s a sign that they are about to something brave, important and meaningful – and that can be hard sometimes. Ask, ‘Is this a time to be safe (sometimes it will be), or is this a time to be brave?’♥️
The key to moving kids trough anxiety is helping them know when to retreat into safety, and when to move forward into brave.♥️
When their world feels wobbly, children will look to their closest adults for signs of safety. Our nonverbals will speak the loudest. We’ve been communicating in nonverbals long before words. With every expression, movement, with our posture, our voice, our tone, we’re communicating to them whether we believe they are brave enough and safe enough. 

Our capacity to self regulate is key. If you can breathe and lower your own anxiety, they will pick this up. Our nervous systems are talking to each other every minute of every day.  So often, the move towards brave doesn’t start with them. It starts with us. 

If you can hold a calm steady presence it will make it easier for their bodies and brains to pick up on that calm. If they’ve been feeling anxious retreating from something for a while, it will take a while them to trust that they can cope, and that’s okay. The move towards brave doesn’t have to happen quickly. It’s the direction that matters. 

Breathe, validate, and invite them into brave: ‘I know this feels big. What can you do that would feel brave right now?’ And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️

#parenting #anxietyinkids #mindfulparenting #parents #raisingkids #heywarrior
Few things will stoke anxiety more in an anxious child than unpredictability. One of the ways they might relieve their anxiety is through control. (We can all fall into controlling behaviour when we’re anxious.) This isn’t done to be insensitive or ‘bossy’, even though it might come out that way. It’s done because of their great and very understandable need for predictability and safety.

Anxious kids don’t need to control everything in order to feel safe but they do need someone to take the lead and you’re perfect for the job. They need to understand that they can trust you to keep them safe. To show them, be predictable and clear with boundaries and have confidence in protecting those boundaries. Predictibility will increase their sense of safety and will help to minimise the likelihood of an anxious response.

Without limits kids have nothing to guide their behaviour. The options become vast and overwhelming. They need to feel like you’ve got them, that you’ve set a safety zone and that within that, they’re fine. Of course they’ll push up against the edges and sometimes they’ll move well outside them – that’s all part of growing up and stretching their wings but even then, the boundaries will offer some sort of necessary guidance. In time, children without limits wil become controlling and demanding – and that just doesn’t end well for anyone.

When they are pushing against your boundaries, let those boundaries be gentle, but firm. Invite their opinions and give space for them to disagree:
‘I want to understand [why this doesn’t feel right for you] [what you need] [how this can work for both of is].’

But let the final decision be yours with statements of validation:
‘I know this is annoying for you.’

Plus confidence:
‘This is what’s happening and I know [you can do this] [this is how it has to be].♥️
Even the spiciest behaviour will have a valid need behind it. If we can respond to the need behind the behaviour, the behaviour will ease. When this happens, they will be more open to our guidance and influence: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re a great kid, and I know you know that wasn’t okay. How can you put things right?’

Of course, it’s not always easy to know what the need it. They won’t always know what the need is. (Neither do we when we’re losing our (thinking) minds.)

If you aren’t sure what the need is, try to approach this with a curious mind. Watch, wonder, and don’t forget to breathe. Of you think they’re open to it, ask, ‘Can you help me understand what’s happening for you? I really want to understand.’ Soft eyes, a curious mind, and breathe.♥️

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