Are you Listening to your Intuition?

At risk of sounding corny, I’m all about following my instincts right now, and the research supports the theory that this is a good idea. Although often overlooked, psychologists are recently turning attention to the power of instinct. According to one recent piece of research, those who make decisions – even in a business setting – based on instinct are 70% more likely to make the right decision. So all that analysis and over-thinking might not be any use after all!

Alongside over-thinking, the problem these days is that so most of us are used to going to Google for the answer to our dilemmas – in a massive, overwhelming sea of data, we often forget that our own gut instincts will often present the right answer. I know, personally, my best decisions have usually been based on an instinct. In fact, the reference to the gut as ‘the second brain’ makes complete sense to me.

5 tips to help you trust your instincts more:

1. Listen – to your heart, not just your head. When you can’t get an idea out of your head, your gut is telling you it’s worth attention. You are more likely to succeed by acting on the things that really matter to you – it makes sense!

2. Commit – once you decide which instinct to follow, it’s now time to commit and put the work in in order to achieve what you want.

3. Educate – if you immerse yourself in knowledge about an area or topic, your instincts will grow, along with your confidence – this is the connection that comes from getting your hands dirty and knowing what works.

4. Be flexible – when acting on instinct, be flexible about implementation. What you start out to do could completely change – the basic instinct stays the same, but the idea evolves.

5. Trust yourself – don’t let fear of failure, or of what others think, derail you from listening to your instincts. The most important person to be true to is yourself.

What Does it Feel Like?
According to UCLA lecturer and psychiatrist Judith Orlofff, most gut instincts are accompanied by a physical sensation – wonderful cues that our ‘second brain’ is trying to tell us something. “The body never lies” goes the quote. Positive physical sensations often tell you are on the right path or that something good is happening or about to happen.

Positive and affirming instincts are often accompanied by:

– A sense of warmth
– The ability to breathe more easily
– Sharp clarity (of vision or hearing)
– A wave of goose bumps, tingles or ‘fluttery’ sensations
– Relaxation of the shoulders and in the stomach

Watch out for the above over the coming weeks and make a note of the intuitive feeling you are experiencing about something. Listen and pay attention to these signs – soon you’ll even notice the subtle sensations. On the other hand, negative or warning instincts are sometimes more obvious, alerting us to possible danger. These include:

– Icy cold hands and feet, or an overall chill
– A twinge or clenching tightness in the stomach or chest area
– Nausea/acidic stomach
– A sense of being on ‘high alert’
– Fatigue or loss of energy
– Onset of a headache

These sensations might offer a useful warning to you that you are possibly on the wrong track, that you are making the wrong decision, or that you need to proceed with caution. Instinct can tell us when it’s time to give up on something, and let go, or when it’s time to push through and keep going (see blog post). With regards to a relationship or to a job, experiencing these sensations may suggest that you need a break and to step away, either temporarily or in the longer term for your own health and wellbeing.

If you’re interested in the power of intuition and want to find out more, check out David Vobora’s TED Talk, ‘Trust your Gut’

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle