Do you tend to trust your gut or analyze (sometimes overanalyze) things before taking action? It’s easy to overanalyze something; we’ve all done it. You can easily talk yourself out of a great idea by doing so. Knowing when and how to trust your intuition, on the other hand, is more difficult.
Some people simply can’t do it; they must rationalize and logically analyze things before making a decision. Others know how and when to place confidence in their intuition. But which is the right approach?
There is no right approach. But there is an appropriate time and place for both. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what we can uncover.
When to analyze instead of trusting your intuition
It is simply not appropriate to let your intuition guide you in some situations or contexts. The first that comes to mind, and probably the most important to keep in mind, is the workplace. If your job requires you to make important decisions, it’s always advisable to analyze information and make data-driven decisions. Trusting your intuition while at work could result in your unemployment.
When to trust your intuition
Have you ever walked into a place and felt a heavy vibe and some kind of force telling you to leave? Your heart may jump up in your throat. You may unexpectedly feel butterflies in your stomach. That is your nervous system relating to stimuli. It’s also your intuition telling you something isn’t right. So, in short, you’ll know it when you feel it.
How to trust your intuition
The answer to this question depends on how tuned-in you are to yourself, how honest you are with yourself, and how perceptive you are.
Having evolved large brains with the ability to reason and rationalize, we have developed an invaluable asset: our intuition. If you listen to your inner voice (i.e., your intuition) and follow it without overanalyzing a situation, you will normally uncover the most effective solution possible to your challenge.
The white noise effect
However, the “white noise” that surrounds us daily acts as a silencer that mutes that inner voice (our intuition). That makes it next to impossible to hear and listen to your intuition. Instead, we look for solutions to specific problems in the chaotic stimulation that surrounds us.
That white noise includes everything from advice from friends and family to social media posts and billboard advertisements.
These things influence how we conceptualize our lives and challenges. The ideas we take from these sources are other people’s opinions, which we project onto our lives. This pulls our focus away from that inner voice.
We should address and resolve problems based on our own life experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. But we often take the advice of others instead. That advice is based on someone else’s life experiences—they haven’t lived your life so how could they know how to resolve your problem?
Instead of taking advice from others, we must block out the white noise and turn the volume up on our intuition. When we do that, we realize that we had the answer all along. We were just so distracted by white noise that we didn’t hear that inner voice whispering the answer.
How do you listen to your intuition?
This can be a real challenge, especially considering the pace of life today in the digital era. We’re constantly distracted by our mobile devices and other bright shiny objects that surround us.
But, it’s certainly possible to block that out. And we must do so to “listen” to our intuition because it speaks with a soft voice. Here are a few tips to mute the white noise and turn up the volume on your intuition:
1. Disconnect from your device
Our attachment to our digital devices dominates our lives at times. We check Facebook every ten minutes to see how many new likes our post has received. We answer every call and message instantly, allowing the device to dictate the pace of our lives.
To mute the white noise, try putting your phone on silent mode for a few hours while engaged in an activity you love. That way you won’t be distracted and lose your train of thought as it relates to that activity.
I’ll use myself as an example. I love to paint and do so almost every day. When I’m painting, I’m unavailable. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in the creative process. 99% of calls and messages that arrive during that time can wait until I am finished painting. In this way, I am in control of how I spend my time. My mobile device is no longer controlling how my mental energy is being spent.
2. Meditate to trust your intuition
People think it’s hard. It’s not.
Find a quiet place to sit down for five minutes, close your eyes, and focus on nothing else but breathing deeply and counting your breaths. Boom! You just meditated.
Commuting to work on the bus? Close your eyes and focus on nothing else but the sound of the bus engine for five minutes. Slam! You just mediated.
You don’t need to be in the Himalayan foothills in front of a 1000-yeard-old temple to meditate. Meditation, at its core, is very simple. It’s the act of forcing your brain to stop thinking about 100 things—at the same time—in a superficial way. And instead, focus on one thing in a deep way, while momentarily ejecting all other thoughts from your mind. It’s a simple concept to grasp and an easy exercise to perform. You can even meditate while you are walking.
3. Slow down and pay attention
We live in societies that program us with unrealistic expectation of individual success. And that “success” is defined by the society that forces that expectation on us.
Unfortunately, this means that we’re often in a constant rush because we have too much on our plate.
If we spend the majority of our lives working, it naturally follows that we’re often in a hurry to make it to a meeting, arrive to work on time, etc. Being in a rush stresses people out (e.g. road rage). Stress releases cortisol into our bodies which produces a fight or flight adrenaline rush. That rush speeds up our hearts and pulls essential energy away from other bodily processes, giving us a heightened focus on surviving.
The fight or the flight is how we traditionally released that cortisol and adrenaline. But if these chemicals are rushing through our veins and we can’t stand up, run, or find another way to get it out of our system, those mind-altering chemicals simmer in our bodies harming us physically. Scientific research backs this up.
Wrapping it up
If we just slow down a little and plan ahead so that we’re not in a constant rush, we’re able to hear our intuition much more clearly. And as mentioned above, we already have the solution to most problems in our heads. We just have to find a quiet enough pace, figuratively speaking, to allow it to be heard. That’s how to trust your intuition.
Do you have any additional suggestions around how to trust and listen to your intuition? Share them with us in the comments section below!