Your Intuition. It’s there for a reason.

I’ve Learned to Trust my Brain

Did you ever have your keys in hand, standing at the front door and get this odd feeling that you need to go back inside. Of course, you are in a hurry to get to the grocery store, because you have to get the stuff to make the sausage pinwheels so that you will have time to make them before the meeting at six tonight. “Whatever,” you think, as you lock the door and head to the grocery store. And as you walk in through the swooshing doors and see the checkout lines, you realize ahhhhhhh, my wallet was inside the house, on the counter because I put it down to check in the fridge to see if I was out of the mango chutney I would need for the dipping sauce.

Eventually, I realized my brain talked to me in a weird non-verbal language, my Subconscious knocking on the window of my Consciousness and I would routinely ignore it, especially when I was in a hurry. The weird, silent brain-dialogue went something like this.

Brain: You Should Go Back Into Your House.
Me: No. That’s Dumb.
Brain: House.
Me: La la la lah, La la la lah
Later when I realized why my brain was trying to get me to go back in the house —
Me: SHIT

I’m somewhat trainable so eventually I stopped completely ignoring such efforts by my brain to warn me.

Brain: You Should Go Back Into Your House.
Me: No. That’s Dumb.
Brain: House.
Me: Why do you want me to go back in the house? Oh Kay, maybe you are rrrii…Nope. Can’t think of a single reason.
Later
Me: SHIT

Now if my brain gives me the feeling I need to go back in the house, I do. I stand there and look around and try to figure out what I’m missing. I’ve learned to trust my brain.

But can I trust my gut?

My gut talks to me too. But can I trust my gut?

Good question. People say, trust your gut. But what are those gut feelings and where do they come from? Can you trust those feelings in your gut? Are those gut feelings truly reliable? Is that feeling in your gut intuition? The fact that we have a word for intuition is interesting. The root, loosely, is ‘to look at.’ As in, ‘take a look’ at your intuition.

By taking a look at when and how my gut tries to talk to me, I found myself looking at, or examining, what I intuit and when I sense my intuition is guiding me or weighing in on my decision making. I’ve learned over time to recognize the difference between intuition and its close cousin, fear.

Fearing vs. Knowing

Fear is usually driven by uncertainty around outcomes. Am I going to get fired or not? Will this biopsy come back positive? Will I say the wrong thing? You can feel fear in your gut, a tightness, in your breathing, a shallowness, in your heartbeat, a sharpening. Sometimes, I feel those feelings and I don’t even consciously know why. I have to ask myself, what is wrong with me? Why so anxious? And then I realize, ah I’m worried about missing my flight tomorrow even though I wasn’t even focused on my upcoming travel just now. Fear is based on not knowing. I have learned not to trust fear.

Intuition, on the other hand, is based in knowing. Let’s say you are pitching additional services to a client and as they talk, you become sure they are not going to bite and after the call is over you tell the team: the client isn’t going to move forward on the proposal. You’re not sure why, but you are sure of it.

The Gears of the Universe?

I’ve never been the person who is highly empathic, reading how people are feeling in the moment and adjusting my delivery and message on the fly. Instead, I have a different form of empathy. I develop a sense for how a person will respond in a given situation. I’m good seeing whether someone will say yes, or no. I used to attribute my intuition to a gut feeling. Now I realize that it has more to do with recognizing patterns. Maybe someone always sends a follow up email right after a call, or always starts a text exchange with ‘hiya,’ or always wears heels, or laughs the loudest. Or always leaves their phone on the kitchen counter. Until they don’t. And your intuition tells you something is off; something is different. It’s real, don’t ignore it. Attend to the difference.

My intuition works like gears sliding into place, patterns that align or don’t. I have learned to trust my intuition.

This same form of intuition whispers in my ear at other times. I might get a strong feeling to be sure to tell someone that they have a very specific strength. As in, it feels like the universe is telling me I have to say something to that person, to deliver a message and I feel compelled, as if I could help them along in their life’s mission. It typically goes like this:

Intuition: She needs to become a Project Manager
Me: What? What does that have to do with anything?
Intuition: No really. Tell her.
Me: Tell her? As in tell her tell her? She will think I’m crazy.
Intuition: Tell her.

How odd is it to think that you ‘need’ to deliver a message on behalf of the universe? That’s just crazy.

Mark, a guy I worked with was a good salesman. He met quota; the clients trusted him. And after several months on being on the same team with him, I could feel the gears click in place and I knew he needed to know something important about his career. I told him. You’re probably not interested, I said, but you would be amazing as executive director of a non-profit. I knew him; I knew both successful and next level successful non-profit leaders. I knew those patterns, I saw his patterns; it fit together. I felt compelled to tell him.

It’s not the Universe talking to me. My intuition is just extremely strong pattern recognition. And it doesn’t sound as crazy when I think about it like that. It is me listening and seeing. I like that. I like that I am listening and seeing at an unconscious level. Its not the same as that person who sees emotions in the moment and reacts in the moment and helps other people feel safe. It takes place over time. I’ve learned to see that I am empathic in my own way.

When I was a kid, I learned that whenever I was at an intersection, to Stop, Look and Listen so that I would be safe and not get run over by a car. So when you are at a life intersection, Listen, Stop. Look.

If your brain tries to talk to you, listen.

If your gut feels fear, stop it. Tell fear to eff off. Fear is not danger, it is uncertainty.

If your intuition tries to talk to you, look. Look with both your conscious, logical mind, and also with your subconscious self. Take a look. What do you see? What can you learn? How can you move from intuition to action.

When I was a kid I did almost get hit by a car. But that’s another story,

Footnote:

A few days after I wrote the above, I happened to listen to a podcast The Art of Manliness, hosted by Brent McKay, #845: Magic, Archetypes, and the Mysteries of the Unconscious. If you are intrigued by the idea of looking at your own Intuition, take a listen.

From Brett McKay’s summary: There are two parts of the mind: the conscious and the unconscious. While the former dominates your attention, the latter actually occupies far more of the brain, influencing your mood, generating inspiration, and making you who you are, all behind the scenes.

My guest would argue that to become all you’re meant to be, you have to make your unconscious mind your ally and that this may be life’s most important task.

His name is Daniel Z. Lieberman, and he’s a psychiatrist and the author of Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind.

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