Originally published on the The Choppra Center
Intuition is a powerful aspect of the human experience, and something that anyone can access within themselves—if they’re open to it. Often referred to as a “gut instinct,” it’s that hunch that encourages you to go in a certain direction or inspires you to share a piece of wisdom with someone seeking answers. Intuition can lead you to safety in times of chaos; it can encourage you to step into new opportunities during times of apathy; and it can open up a world beyond what you can experience with your other five senses. And while everyone has intuition, the process of learning to trust it is an entirely different story.
Whether you spend the majority of your day at home, at work, or on the go, you’re bombarded with multiple messages about what you should do and who you should be. From TV and social media to friend groups and bosses, everyone seems to have an opinion that never quite matches up with what you know to be true deep down.
This is when you need to learn how to accept those competing messages for what they are—mere suggestions. Step into your own power by learning to trust your gut, so you can confidently make decisions and grace others with your insight and wisdom.
The Universe needs what you have to offer, and you have the power to stop second-guessing yourself. There will always be distractions along the way, but your gut offers insight you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s worth nurturing.
Here are six steps to learning how to trust your gut…
Welcome Your Intuition
Your intuition is a natural gift. However, since it cannot be seen, heard, smelled, felt, or tasted, it can sometimes be a bit unnerving. Sometimes referred to as a sixth sense, your intuition operates outside the normal parameters of your experiences.
For example, you might be walking home from a friend’s house at night. You usually take a shortcut through an alley, but tonight you start walking down it and suddenly stop. Something feels a bit off. Something inside tells you to turn around and find another way home. Without another thought, you obey and feel an instant rush of peace as you walk along another path.
That’s what it looks like to trust your intuition. Before you learn to trust your gut, however, you need to be open to it, welcoming it into your life knowing that it might not always make sense, but that you’re willing to follow it.
Cultivate Your Intuition with Solitude and Silence
Once you’re open to receiving and following your intuition, you need to learn how to experience it. To do this, it’s best to get away from the distractions and competing messages of your daily life. Schedule a time away to practice some much-needed solitude and silence. If you’ve never intentionally practiced being alone, this can be a bit jarring, so prepare yourself. When you’re alone, you are faced with yourself—all parts—in a raw and real way. Often there can be emotions that surge from the depths of who you are. Don’t worry, this is part of the process of understanding yourself, which allows you to better recognize your intuition.
When you’re alone, you don’t have other people around to inform what you should do or who you should be. You’re left with yourself and your own decision-making power. And while it can be unnerving, it’s also incredibly freeing.
Meditating is a great practice for cultivating silence and intuition. If you want to learn how to meditate, try our online course, Basics of Meditation: Mindful Meditation with Deepak Chopra, and learn how to develop a regular practice. After practicing silence and solitude regularly, you can begin using those tools in your everyday life.
Record Your Intuition
Becoming aware of your intuition and acting on it are two different things. During the process of learning to trust your gut, it’s an important step to merely observe when your intuition comes up in any given situation.
Let’s say you’re job hunting. Your dream job is offered few and far between so you apply for jobs that meet most of your checklist. You end up getting an offer from one of these jobs. The pay is good, there’s flexibility for time off, and your co-workers would be a lot of fun to work with. These are all things good on paper, but there’s something inside of you that says this isn’t the right fit.
That’s your intuition. You may end up taking that job (there’s nothing wrong with that), but during the process, it can be helpful to record your intuitive experience in a journal, what you did with it, and where it led you. Keep this journal close by and record similar intuitive feelings and experiences you have from day to day and week to week. After a month or two, read back through your intuitive experiences and notice if there are any patterns. You’ll get to know yourself even more and understand how intuition appears in your daily life.
Process Your Intuition with a Trusted Community
While intuition is a highly personalized practice, you don’t need to cultivate it in isolation. Find a friend or group of friends with whom you can share your insights. This can be especially helpful if you’ve experienced any type of trauma that can cloud your judgment by promoting fear instead of power within yourself.
By testing your intuition within a safe group, you can begin to learn what to trust and what not to trust. Pay attention, too, if your community disagrees with something and whether or not their opinion resonates with you. That’s also your intuition talking.
Take Action Based on Your Intuition
Eventually, you will want to take action on your intuition. You already do this on a subconscious level with small things (you eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired), but with bigger gut feelings, it can take a little faith to step out there and act on hunch.
Start small. If you’re at a new restaurant and scanning the menu, choose the first item that sounds delicious. If you’re running around your neighborhood park and feel like you can do one more lap, then do it! This is training your mind, body, and spirit to trust what naturally arises.
As you become more comfortable with trusting your gut, you can begin using your intuition to inform bigger decisions like:
- Making a career change
- Starting a family
- Going back to school
- Saying goodbye to an unhealthy friendship
- Reconciling with a loved one
Once you understand how your intuition works, you can step into its power, making decisions and blessing other people with your insight. Your intuition will never fail you—a lesson you’ll learn as you trust it more and more. So stop second-guessing yourself and listening to what others tell you to do or be—and instead, turn inward. Your inner wisdom is providing guidance; you just have to listen.