The most common question I get about intuition is how to identify it. My clients are frequently confused about whether they can really trust their intuition because they don’t know if the voice of their intuition is real. More often than not, when they’ve actually received a solid piece of intel from their intuition, they are immediately suspicious and inclined to dismiss it as wishful thinking.
There is only one reason why this is happening. It’s because we tolerate a level of anxiety in our daily lives that is oppressive.
We live in a world that is simply toxic from fear but choosing to liberate our thinking from our worries is considered impossible and irresponsible.
It seems realistic to be afraid. There is no question that life is incredibly difficult. Seemingly random and horrible things happen all the time. The amount of suffering on our planet right now is devastating. And the wellness and metaphysical communities have not helped one bit by taking the point of view that we can game life to be easy, and if we’re struggling it means we’ve failed in some way. They’ve created a response that is more fantasy than hope.
Thinking that we can harness the power of our minds to magically master our fate isn’t a good way to cope with worry, not even remotely. It’s also no coincidence that it will be a lot easier to create success (as if that was the only anecdote to uncertainty–more on that in a later post) if you’re white and privileged.
There is no simple formula to living well nor should there be. Any kind of metaphysical philosophy that ignores the challenges we all face, trivializes the lessons we are here to learn and in so doing demeans us as a civilization.
I’ve often wondered if we humans are driven to survive to the exclusion of the wellbeing of our planet, its species and each other. I have a few ideas about what the solution to that is, but I still can’t find my magic wand so we’ll have to leave that topic for another blog piece.
On the other hand, What if the story of our civilization is still unfolding? Despite the possibility that we might really be screwing up here on earth, if you’re looking in the right places you will always see more examples of our capacity for kindness, generosity, and healing even when measured against any example of cruelty, greed, and violence. So I choose to believe it’s just as likely something amazing will result from what we’re learning as much as anything else.
Now that we’ve gotten that cheery part of the conversation out of the way, let’s talk about the proper use of the intuition in our very real, human lives.
Worry is an action, chosen in response to uncertainty. Fear demands solutions from us and worrying is an attempt to find those solutions. What worry also does is fuel Figure It Out mode like nothing else. It’s like the most premium gasoline ever. Like a cup of coffee grown in Hawaii and served immediately after harvesting. Like nuclear power in a missile.
Many of us don’t have the experience of worry as being one that includes the choice of when or how often to do it. We worry constantly and have a hard time stopping. When fear develops into a mental pattern that wears deep groves in our thinking, it can morph into something that chooses us. Bowl enough gutter balls and you’re going to believe that’s all you can do.
But anyone who has struggled with clinical anxiety and come out the other side will tell you there are many great tools available to us. Medication, therapy, and self-help designed to adjust our mental postures before the ball ever leaves our hands
(the work of Byron Katie and Recovery, Inc among others are especially powerful) are all helpful in breaking the addiction to worry.
There are some useful guidelines to keep in mind when freeing your intuition from fearful thinking. However, if you are struggling with anxiety that has impacted your ability to function, you absolutely must address that first. First and foremost, you must already be healthy when learning to use your intuition. My suggestions here are designed to supplement good mental health.
~Remind yourself (frequently!) that using your intuition is powerful and clear, but you have spent many, many years discounting it. Unlearning the habits of a lifetime takes lots of practice (So. Much. Practice). Doubt has been allowed to grow like bittersweet, unchecked and intertwined with the beautiful growing thing that is your intuition. If you’ve ever dealt with bittersweet, you know it is absolutely tenacious. By the time you realize that it has moved up through the branches of a shrub or hedge or girdled an oak tree, in order to eradicate it you’re going to have to attack roots that have radiated underground in an impossibly complex and ever-widening system.
By the way, I said bittersweet is “absolutely tenacious” but what I really meant to say was that it is “absolutely an asshole”.
You must be patient. Fear does not give up its power very easily. As a matter of fact, in the short term, worry tends to amplify what it tells you is its participation in your wellbeing, especially when it figures out you’re putting it out of a job. So it gets louder and more dramatic. Stay the course.
You have a secret weapon. You can distinguish very simply and easily between fearful thoughts and neutral ones, or between fearful thoughts and your intuition. Since fear makes your body tense and uncomfortable, and intuition is calming and grounding, you can absolutely always know which is which. No matter what kind of information your intuition is relaying to you, it will feel restful to receive it. So pay attention to how you feel. For a while, it might be hard to pick even one centering thought out of an onslaught of fearful ones. Keep at it. You’ll soon be able to tell the difference.
Remember the human survival instinct? Your intuition is actually allied with it. Fear might argue that it can keep you from being eaten alive or starving to death, but gut instinct will show you how. This society might try to kill your intuition off with everything it’s got, but trust me, it cannot die and will often appear fully formed and functional in lifesaving ways.
Once it’s got your survival cinched, its job is this: to help you become entirely loveable to yourself and to teach you how to love others well. It can definitely help you shift certain circumstances in your life and teach you how to co-create with the Universe. By design, it will get you to your best life, no matter what. Which means even if you find yourself in extremely challenging circumstances, even if you are facing unimaginable loss or you feel like you have truly lost your way, even if you feel stuck in a life that feels like somebody else’s, your intuition’s first job is to show you how you can experience that, the right now part of your journey that you’re actually living–your real, actual life–in a way that transforms you and helps you create the highest good for the greatest number.
Your job is to know this, believe it, and trust that you can kick worry to the curb. You absolutely can. And the benefits of ducking out from underneath your worry is a stronger relationship with your intuitive self.
Also, just an extra piece of advice, probably completely unrelated to intuition: always use gardening gloves.
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