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How to Follow Your Intuition

Edited by MA, Luv_sarah, Flickety, Krystle and 14 others

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Intuition is "knowing" something without being able to explain how you came to that conclusion rationally.[1] It's that mysterious "gut feeling" or "instinct" that often turns out to be right, in retrospect. When you've whittled down your options and are stuck at a crossroads, getting in touch with your intuition can help. Learning how to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, is difficult but intuition can be developed, especially when following some of these ideas.

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Trust your instincts. It can be difficult to depend on something that you don't understand, and you probably shouldn't base every one of your decisions on intuition. For example, if you're hiring someone, you should look at qualifications first and foremost, or else you might accidentally discriminate. But when you've weighed all the options and there is no obvious, rational choice, intuition's really all you've got. Consider the following:

Intuition is basically how you quickly tap into your subconscious mind, which is where you "archive" all kinds of information that you don't remember on a conscious level.[2]Sometimes you pick up on things subconsciously without realizing it, such as body language. It'll register as a certain "feeling" that you can't articulate at that moment, but it could very well be valid.[3]

Without intuition, you're no different than a computer. You only make decisions based on facts, and you don't always have all the facts.[3] So unless you're functioning like a computer, you're already making decisions based on various factors other than logic...why not learn how to use your intuition as well? Even some of the world's greatest scientists, the most logical thinkers of all time, have made their greatest discoveries based on flashes of intuition (think of Newton and the apple that fell on his head, or Archimedes shouting "Eureka!" in his bathtub).

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Ask yourself questions and listen to the first answer that pops into your mind. That isn't easy, because several thoughts will flood your mind at once. For instance, let's say you're looking at a menu. In figuring out what you want, pick out the first thing that stands out to you. Ignore the remainder of your thoughts, like "But I didn't even look at the specials...but my friend is on a diet and I'll feel bad eating this in front of her...but my uncle said the mashed potatoes he had here were too mushy...blah, blah, blah." Don't dwell on it. Just pick something. It's scary...what if you make the wrong choice?...but you'll be fine.

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Meditate. Clearing your mind of repetitive thoughts and worries will make it easier to listen to your intuition. Find a meditative technique you are comfortable using and practice.

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Listen to your gut. There's a reason it's called a "gut feeling". Many times, a decision that you "know" is wrong makes you feel discomfort in your stomach area.

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Listen to and communicate with your multiple brains. Neuroscience research has shown we have functional and complex brains in both our heart and gut. These brains have memory and intelligence. As the points above indicate, your gut and heart brains know when something isn't right and will tell you through feelings, hunches and messages. You can communicate with these brains through simple language, imagery and touch.

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Keep an intuition journal. Every day, use your intuition to make a guess about someone or something. Don't act on it, though. Just write it down. Focus on statements like "I have a feeling that..." or "My intuition tells me that..." If there are any sensations associated with your intuition, such as a vision, or physical discomfort, be sure to record it. Looking back in your journal, see how often you are right. As you learn more about how to recognize your intuition, and you see it leading you in the right direction, your confidence will grow and so will your intuitive power.

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Exercise the right side of your brain. Intuition is drawn from the right hemisphere of the brain[4] which is the same side that controls nonverbal, holistic thought and expression. Here are some other ways to "work out" your intuition:

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EditTips Figuring out what is really your intuition and not the rational mind or something else is a self learning process that takes trial and error. Read books about approaches & techniques. o Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic by Osho o Practical Intuition by Laura Day o Awakening Intuition by Frances E. Vaughan o Intuition: Its Powers and Perils by Professor David G. Myers o Natural-Born Intuition: How to Awaken and Develop Your Inner Wisdom by Lauren Tribodeau o Awakening Intuition: Using Your Mind-Body Network for Insight and Healing by Mona Lisa Schulz M.D. Ph.D. and Christiane Northrup M.D. o Your Sixth Sense: Unlocking the Power of Your Intuition (Plus) by Belleruth Naparstek vIntuition: Awakening Your Inner Guide by Judee Gee

Health Intuition: A Simple Guide to Greater Well-Being by Karen Grace Kassy