It’s commonly said that gut feelings are guardian angels, and that’s because they form an inner compass that tells you what’s truly best for you. But, like a good compass, a gut feeling – which is simply your intuition in action – only keeps you on track if you pay attention to it. For many of us, this is easier said than done. After a lifetime of societal conditioning to act as others expect, your intuition may have become so quiet, you can barely hear it.
If you’re keen to stop reacting to life and making decisions that don’t lead to happiness and fulfillment, it’s time to work on getting back in touch with your inner wisdom. And if you’re thinking ‘can intuition be improved?’, the answer is yes! Here’s how to strengthen your intuition in three easy (but pretty powerful) steps.
How to strengthen your intuition
When you’re trying to have an important conversation in a noisy environment, what do you do?
Move somewhere quieter.
This is exactly what you need to do if you feel completely out of touch with your inner wisdom. If you don’t know what you want in all or some areas of your life, keep making decisions that move you further away from where you want to be (physically and emotionally), or you can’t act without asking many people what to do, it’s likely that your intuition could do with a little attention from you.
But it’s almost impossible to hear your intuition if you’ve been ignoring it for a while. So, the best way to get reacquainted with your intuition is to take time away from the noise of daily life and get very quiet each day.
You probably know we’re going to recommend meditating as the best way to quieten your mind, and it doesn’t need to be a long, drawn-out affair. Just five to 10 minutes a day is all it takes to start reconnecting with yourself. And if five minutes seems like too much for you, author and meditation teacher davidji has a meditation that’s just 16 seconds long.
Sixteen seconds will work if you’re in a bind, but you’ll get the best results if you aim to meditate for at least five to 10 minutes every day. If this sounds impossible because you just can’t switch off, take a look at this article on how to meditate when you can’t meditate stop thinking.
If meditation really doesn’t appeal to you, no problem. There are other things that can help quieten your mind.
- Write a list – when your brain is so full, emptying it onto a piece of paper can help create space. Just grab a pen and piece of paper and write a list of everything you’re holding onto in your mind.
- Take a shower – ever noticed how answers to the questions you’ve been pondering over all day suddenly pop into your mind when you’re in the shower? It’s said that this may be because being near water triggers a meditative state that helps you relax (this is linked to the fact that we all spent the first nine months of our lives living in water in the womb, so it’s a primal instinct).
- Count backward from 100 – there’s a reason why people count sheep to fall asleep or count to 10 when they’re angry. Counting pulls your attention away from the things that create distracting or overwhelming emotional responses in you. So if your mind runs wild each day, take a few minutes to count down from 100 to 0 and see how you feel afterward.
Write down thoughts that pop into your head
Seemingly random thoughts probably pop into your head throughout the day. ‘I should really call Julia’, ‘I’d love to go to Peru’, ‘I haven’t checked the oil in my car for ages’.
Here at Soul Level Hang, we believe no thought is random. When something pops into your mind out of nowhere, it’s either in response to a subconscious external message (like sneaky subliminal advertising tricks) or it’s a subconscious internal message – otherwise known as your intuition.
The problem is that most of us are so busy with life, we just dismiss these thoughts unless we can see the immediate benefit of acting on them. Of course, life is a long game and sometimes, the clue you get today doesn’t make sense until a year’s time. But if you dismiss such thoughts as they arise, you’ll never act on them, which means you’ll never get to enjoy the spoils.
So, keep a small pad of paper handy (or use the notes app in your phone) and jot down random thoughts as they enter your head throughout the day. Make it a habit to set aside five minutes each day to review the notes you’ve made from the past 24 hours and then move onto the next strategy for developing your intuition outlined below.
If you want to know how to strengthen your intuition, the simplest answer is to start acting on it. Improving your intuition is a habit and to create a habit, you have to repeat an action over and over again until it becomes automatic.
Acting on a gut feeling also has the added benefit of positive reinforcement. By acting on your intuition and seeing positive events unfold, you will instinctively begin to create a habit of listening to your gut more because you’ve proven to yourself that doing so leads to good things.
And if you act on a gut feeling and the outcome isn’t so great, we’d like you to try one thing: write down what happened and revisit it in a few months’ time. As we said earlier, life is a long game and what feels like a ‘bad thing’ today often turns out to be a blessing in disguise a few weeks, months or even years down the line. Can you recall a big disappointment that ended up taking your life in a much better direction in the end?
Don’t stop listening to your intuition just because it gives you things you don’t want right now. They often turn out to be the things you need the most.
Learn how to spot a gut feeling
For some, it’s not easy to tell when it’s your head, heart or gut speaking. But if you want to follow your intuition more, you’ll need to know how to spot the difference between the three.
Head-based prompts feel intellectual in nature. They usually appear after you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of a situation and they make the most sense on paper. You’ll know your head is speaking if the action comes after a lot of thinking.
Don’t get us wrong, head-based decisions have an important place in the decision-making process – they keep you safe and prevent you from doing something you’ll regret because you’re caught up in the moment. But avoid acting solely on a head-based prompt if you’re looking for soul-level answers.
Heart-based prompts feel emotional in nature. They are often quite charged and you may feel a little detached from yourself when these prompts pop into your head. For example, you may suddenly have an overwhelming urge to wolf down the entire contents of your fridge or to call someone you have unfinished business with. But if you step back and ask yourself ‘Why do I want to do this?’, you’ll find there’s an underlying emotion you’re trying to satisfy with that action.
Like head-based prompts, heart-based ones are important. They help you act with compassion and apply important lessons learned from past experience. But they can lead you astray as they are often focused on short-term gratification (whether that’s moving toward a nice emotion or away from a not-so-nice one).
So, those are heart and head-based feelings, but what does a gut feeling feel like? Well, gut feelings often pop up out of nowhere. They’re called gut feelings because they often feel like a ‘knowing’ deep in the pit of your gut – in your core. They often don’t make much sense on paper, but if you sit with them for a minute, you’ll find they feel like the right thing to do.
Spiritually, it’s thought that your intuition is your soul speaking to you, while on a more practical level, gut feelings are thought to be prompts based on previous life experiences that you’ve long forgotten about or rationalised away. Regardless of the definition you prefer, we think you’ll agree they’re worth paying attention to.
How often do you listen to your gut? Has it ever gotten you in trouble? Tell us in the comments below.