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.

    [irp posts=”1142″ name=”Want to Be Happier? Letting Go of These Will Make it Happen”]

  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.

20 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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Let them know …

Anxiety shows up to check that you’re okay, not to tell you that you’re not. It’s your brain’s way of saying, ‘Not sure - there might be some trouble here, but there might not be, but just in case you should be ready for it if it comes, which it might not – but just in case you’d better be ready to run or fight – but it might be totally fine.’ Brains can be so confusing sometimes! 

You have a brain that is strong, healthy and hardworking. It’s magnificent and it’s doing a brilliant job of doing exactly what brains are meant to do – keep you alive. 

Your brain is fabulous, but it needs you to be the boss. Here’s how. When you feel anxious, ask yourself two questions:

- ‘Do I feel like this because I’m in danger or because there’s something brave or important I need to do?’

- Then, ‘Is this a time for me to be safe (sometimes it might be) or is this a time for me to be brave?

And remember, you will always have ‘brave’ in you, and anxiety doesn’t change that a bit.♥️

#positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #parenting #childanxiety #heywarrior #heywarriorbook
The temptation to fix their big feelings can be seismic. Often this is connected to needing to ease our own discomfort at their discomfort, which is so very normal.

Big feelings in them are meant to raise (sometimes big) feelings in us. This is all a healthy part of the attachment system. It happens to mobilise us to respond to their distress, or to protect them if their distress is in response to danger.

Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t want to bury it, stop it, smother it, and we don’t need to fix it. What we need to do is make a safe passage for it to move through them. 

Think of emotion like a river. Our job is to hold the ground strong and steady at the banks so the river can move safely, without bursting the banks.

However hard that river is racing, they need to know we can be with the river (the emotion), be with them, and handle it. This might feel or look like you aren’t doing anything, but actually it’s everything.

The safety that comes from you being the strong, steady presence that can lovingly contain their big feelings will let the emotional energy move through them and bring the brain back to calm.

Eventually, when they have lots of experience of us doing this with them, they will learn to do it for themselves, but that will take time and experience. The experience happens every time you hold them steady through their feelings. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring big behaviour. For them, this can feel too much like bursting through the banks, which won’t feel safe. Sometimes you might need to recall the boundary and let them know where the edges are, while at the same time letting them see that you can handle the big of the feeling. Its about loving and leading all at once. ‘It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to use those words at me.’

Ultimately, big feelings are a call for support. Sometimes support looks like breathing and being with. Sometimes it looks like showing them you can hold the boundary, even when they feel like they’re about to burst through it. And if they’re using spicy words to get us to back off, it might look like respecting their need for space but staying in reaching distance, ‘Ok, I’m right here whenever you need.’♥️
We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety have magic in them, every one of them, but until they have a felt sense of safety, it will often stay hidden.

‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what they feel. At school, they might have the safest, most loving teacher in the safest, most loving school. This doesn’t mean they will feel enough relational safety straight away that will make it easier for them to do hard things. They can still do those hard things, but those things are going to feel bigger for a while. This is where they’ll need us and their other anchor adult to be patient, gentle, and persistent.

Children aren’t meant to feel safe with and take the lead from every adult. It’s not the adult’s role that makes the difference, but their relationship with the child.

Children are no different to us. Just because an adult tells them they’ll be okay, it doesn’t mean they’ll feel it or believe it. What they need is to be given time to actually experience the person as being safe, supportive and ready to catch them.

Relationship is key. The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains in our way. When we feel someone really caring about us, we’re more likely to open up to their influence
and learn from them.

But we have to be patient. Even for teachers with big hearts and who undertand the importance of attachment relationships, it can take time.

Any adult at school can play an important part in helping a child feel safe – as long as that adult is loving, warm, and willing to do the work to connect with that child. It might be the librarian, the counsellor, the office person, a teacher aide. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it is someone who can be available for that child at dropoff or when feelings get big during the day and do little check-ins along the way.

A teacher, or any important adult can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
There is a beautiful ‘everythingness’ in all of us. The key to living well is being able to live flexibly and more deliberately between our edges.

So often though, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ we inhale in childhood and as we grow, lead us to abandon some of those precious, needed parts of us. ‘Don’t be angry/ selfish/ shy/ rude. She’s not a maths person.’ ‘Don’t argue.’ Ugh.

Let’s make sure our children don’t cancel parts of themselves. They are everything, but not always all at once. They can be anxious and brave. Strong and soft. Angry and calm. Big and small. Generous and self-ish. Some things they will find hard, and they can do hard things. None of these are wrong ways to be. What trips us up is rigidity, and only ever responding from one side of who we can be.

We all have extremes or parts we favour. This is what makes up the beautiful, complex, individuality of us. We don’t need to change this, but the more we can open our children to the possibility in them, the more options they will have in responding to challenges, the everyday, people, and the world. 

We can do this by validating their ‘is’ without needing them to be different for a while in the moment, and also speaking to the other parts of them when we can. 

‘Yes maths is hard, and I know you can do hard things. How can I help?’

‘I can see how anxious you feel. That’s so okay. I also know you have brave in you.’

‘I love your ‘big’ and the way you make us laugh. You light up the room.’ And then at other times: ‘It can be hard being in a room with new people can’t it. It’s okay to be quiet. I could see you taking it all in.’

‘It’s okay to want space from people. Sometimes you just want your things and yourself for yourself, hey. I feel like that sometimes too. I love the way you know when you need this.’ And then at other times, ‘You looked like you loved being with your friends today. I loved watching you share.’

The are everything, but not all at once. Our job is to help them live flexibly and more deliberately between the full range of who they are and who they can be: anxious/brave; kind/self-ish; focussed inward/outward; angry/calm. This will take time, and there is no hurry.♥️

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