How to Recognize & Listen to Your Intuition
1. Get to know what your own energy feels like
Get to know who you truly are beyond any of the roles you identify with. Feel beneath the roles of parent, partner, friend, teacher, etc. into who you truly are for yourself when you’re alone and not needing to present your energy to another person. People often tell me I have a calming presence, which is nice to hear but it is surprising to me because that’s not how I experience my own energy. I experience feeling my energy as busy and excited. If I’m in the presence of someone else, I now know very clearly the difference between my own energy and theirs. This is one of the things I support clients with most when they want to begin developing intuition or understanding energy better. Meditation, breath work and journaling are all helpful tools. But essentially it comes down to spending time with yourself and observing just being you.
2. Understand how your body responds to emotions
Often people will tell me that someone else’s energy is “draining them.” While I have experienced this feeling, I have to acknowledge my part in the process. I don’t believe it’s possible for another person to “take” our energy if we are not giving it. I do however know that the act of engaging with someone can be draining. Aggravation, anxiety, having to assert ourselves repeatedly can all take energy. I find myself trying to energetically resist someone who is pushing my boundaries and this is draining as well. I have to remind myself to stay present and trust myself to hold my boundaries. If our boundaries are firm, essentially we can skip the worry and anxiety that we feel when they are being threatened, because we know we can rely on ourselves.
3. Set boundaries that support you
Boundaries are difficult, but an essential part of caring for yourself. Saying no without apology or explanation is saying yes to yourself, your energy, and anything you hope to create. Set boundaries that allow you to live fully in the present moment and that are aligned with your intuition as much as possible. This can be difficult with the people we love. Remember that you may be able to feel someone else’s emotions AND you are not responsible for fixing them. As someone developing their intuition, setting boundaries is going to become a way that you practice self-love. Like any practice, it can take time to get it right and it will be ongoing. This is difficult in the beginning and not everyone will respect or understand our boundaries. That’s okay. It is not our job to manage other people’s emotional reactions and once you begin to set boundaries and trust your intuition around setting them, you will develop confidence in the process.
4. Take an honest look at how relationships and situations affect you
In my intuitive coaching work, my ultimate goal in intuition development is empowerment. Through providing clear answers and sharing my own experiences, I hope to inspire my clients to feel confident in their own choices and understand that being highly intuitive is not a life sentence to “feel the emotions of others". Oftentimes highly intuitive or empathic people will put the needs of others above their own and in an attempt to feel loved, validated or heal childhood wounds and repair their self-worth they try to heal the uncaring, selfish, or even abusive and narcissistic people in their lives. The more energy they pour into these relationships, the more power and control the uncaring or narcissistic partner, friend or family member acquires. We don’t need to accept that other people are going to leave us feeling drained. If we can learn to become familiar with and stay connected to the essence of our own energy and understand how other people affect us emotionally and energetically, then we can set boundaries that support our well-being and cultivate inner peace.
5. Start to align your life with your intuition
When we talk about alignment in a Spiritual sense, we are talking about being in alignment with our spiritual values and true essence of who we are. Our conscious and unconscious mind, our physical body, our breath, need to be aligned with our truth or we will likely feel a sense of discomfort.
At some point, as adults, most of us develop a set of values, beliefs, and ideas that help us live in alignment. We begin to form ideas of what is wrong and right, and what it looks like to live a good life. For example, most people believe that they need to work hard and make sacrifices in order to be successful. This is a common and well-meaning thought most of us have. Through our conditioning, in our families, and in society most of us have this thought reinforced throughout our lifetime. When we have a recurring thought, at some point it becomes a belief. By the time we reach adulthood most of us are prepared to suffer and work hard for what we want. While we may value feeling rested and spending time with our family and friends, our belief that we have to work hard to be successful will shape the way we behave and the choices we make. We may, for example, choose a higher paying job with better benefits that requires us to work long hours and sacrifice our health believing that we are making the right choice for our family.
6. Pay attention to how your body feels
The next time you have to make a decision, notice how your body responds. When you are experiencing intuition your body will have unique physical sensations. You might also feel like you have “chills” or a feeling of warmth in your heart center. If something is “a yes” for you, you might notice if it feels as though your body wants to lean towards it. If something is “a no” notice that sensation as well. It can help to remember how you felt during a pleasant time when you knew exactly what you wanted. Perhaps it was excitement or a feeling of calm confidence. In contrast, can you remember a time when you ignored your intuition or went against a gut feeling? There are physical sensations in the body we experience when we go against our intuition. This can leave you feeling tense, like there is a weight on you or even frozen or stuck.
7. Get in touch with your breath
Taking a few deep breaths to quiet your mind before tuning into your intuition can help you feel calmer and quiet nervous thoughts. When we are stressed we tend to breathe more quickly and shallowly which can cause further anxiety and even mimic a panic response in our nervous system. When oxygen is decreased to your bloodstream this can create a nervous system response in your body or cause you to feel you are in fight or flight mode. When you breathe deeply and mindfully this can have an instant effect on our bodies ability to relax and maintain a sense of safety. When you take a deep breath your brain essentially tells your body that it is okay to relax. When making decisions from a relaxed place it’s easier to feel intuition.
8. Ask yourself questions
Developing self awareness and trusting your intuition go hand in hand. With a better understanding and acceptance of yourself, you’re more likely to develop self confidence and trust your decision making abilities. Before making a decision ask yourself: Am I being true to myself? What about this worries me the most? What about this is exciting to me? Is there a way for me to feel more empowered in this situation? Notice the first thing that comes to mind, as it’s more likely to be from your subconscious mind and connected to your intuition.
9. Notice signs and synchronicities
I don’t believe in randomness. Notice synchronicities or meaningful “coincidences” that show up to validate your intuition. You might notice a feeling of deja vu, signs through nature, or numbers and patterns that are meaningful to you. The more you pay attention to signs and synchronicities the more likely you are to notice and receive them. Leave room for the universe to communicate to you and more importantly notice how you feel when you notice one of these signs. You may reflexively have a sensation in your body that validates your intuition. Synchronicities are one way the Universe lets you know that it’s working in cooperation with you, when you stop and notice the signs will appear.
10. Practice using your intuition
Your intuitive sense is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice and exercise. There are endless possibilities when it comes to practicing with your intuition. I recommend starting with something where you are not attached to the outcome because there is less chance of your conscious mind or emotions taking over. Try quieting the mind and “tuning in” to your intuition to answer simple questions everyday. On your way to the mailbox, be curious about the contents of it. Trust your intuition when finding a parking space or the quickest way home. This might mean discounting logic. If you see an empty parking space on a typically busy street or if taking the scenic way home feels like it will be quicker, try it! You might be surprised by the results.