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.

Reply
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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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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