As I walked through Bear Creek in Los Gatos, CA, I posed the question (out loud), “How do I know what to do when situations or decisions present themselves? How can I make decisions more easily?” This question came about after I was presented with multiple hard decision in a short period of time, of which the very idea of making the decision made me uncomfortable (almost as much as it was to state questions out loud while random hikers saw that I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular lol). I did not receive answers that day, but the next week as I reflected on this outing (specifically seeing a deer blocking my path then moving slowly and calmly as I approached), the answer found me.
Now, this may seem like a very basic answer because this word is thrown around so often, but I realized that as of late, I have not been using this gift. I understand the basic concept of it. You get a hunch or gut response about something and this hunch helps guide you in your life, whether that be what you think (or how you perceive), what you do, or both. What I realized was, both myself and my clients seem to focus more on using the mind to figure out what to do next in life (classic cognitive behavioral therapist [playful eye roll]).
Many people, including some of my clients, have asked me how to tell the difference between intuition and anxiety. To put it simply, the mind perceives and makes meaning out of situations and this creates other avenues of emotional suffering depending on the energy of the narrative. If the meaning of a narrative is negative, then we will release and create the corresponding chemicals and body responses that match. Intuition on the other hand, provides zero discomfort. It is effortless and you just, know, but with your body. So if you’re feeling uneasy about a decision or about a situation that is or has occurred and you wonder if your gut is trying to tell you something…I hate to break it to you, but that is not your gut. That is anxiety. So now that we know the basic (yet significant) difference between intuition and anxiety, why the heck don’t we use intuition? It sure seems more fun (and dare I say) practical to use since it operates on a “higher knowing” versus a thought process that dictates the likelihood of discomfort.
Honestly, I think we don’t use intuition enough because we aren’t setting the intention to (say that 5 times fast), or we don’t have the space or capacity to. We have been taught to think from a young age, and many of us live in our head (I know this from being a therapist for almost 9 years and hearing hundreds of people tell me they’re consumed by their mind). So instead, set the intention for your intuition and gut to speak to you when you most need it. And, as I often say in my 1:1 sessions with clients, in my posts, in the classes and groups I facilitate, and in my day-to-day life as I talk with my friends and family, your thoughts create your emotions, and your emotions dictate your behaviors which dictate the outcomes/consequences of those behaviors. Your thoughts are things that start a domino effect of happenings that contribute to how your reality is shaped. You have the power to change how you think about or perceive something. You are in control therefore you can control your own domino effect. That includes what the dominos represent, how they feel, where they go, what they do, and whether or not you even have the domino effect. Observe yourself having thoughts. Observe yourself having emotions. This removes you from being a participant or, dare I say, victim of the mind hijacking your emotions and behaviors and creating consequences you don’t even like! Keeping yourself as an observer rather than a participant gives you more energy and space to change your narrative (thus changing your domino effect). Do this when you feel anxiety. Train yourself to constantly reframe unhelpful thinking (unhelpful thinking = thoughts/assumptions you believe based on zero evidence) and, the more you do this, the more easy it will be to remain present, in the moment. The more you can remain present without the chatter-chatter of the mind the easier it will be to feel your intuitive “higher knowing.”
Set your intentions with care, comment, and share! (That wasn’t meant to sound like part of a nursery rhyme, but I dig it lol).
Said with love,