When you hear the word INTUITION, what does that mean to you?
Intuition. We all have it. We all can use it.
The definition from the dictionary goes as follows.
“The ability to understand something, without the need for conscious thoughts, observations or reasoning”
Fundamentally then it’s not something we think from conscious thought, it’s from our inside from a combination of body and mind, and we can experience it in very different ways.
The proverbial “gut feeling” can be part of it.
This “gut feeling”, all of us may have referred to at times, can be part of our experience of intuition however, not all gut feeling is intuition and not all intuition is gut feeling and the difference is worth bearing in mind.
Gut feelings can also be feelings of emotions such as fear or love based on instinct, whereas intuition maybe experienced as a pattern that makes sense to us, or a word heard or visual seen that instructs us on action and ways forward.
Intuition is a subconscious processing of information that is too complex for rational thought, it is learnt and affected by our experiences and influences to date, these create a complex web of personal perspective and individual bias.
And let’s not confuse intuition with instinct. This differs from intuition as it is innate not learnt and although also unconscious and has been developed over centuries “hard wired” into our brain and toward external experiences. It is very much manifested as a behaviour and can be felt as emotions such as fear and love, developed to help us stay alive and survive as a species. Not all instincts in the present day are helpful and especially if they are fear-based can, as a well-known acronym goes, be ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ and thus creating an instinctive reaction such as fight or flight when there’s no real danger. Instinct and intuition of course can co-exist and instruct each other if we are aware of them.
At a time of the year when we often have picked up a stake and stuck it in the ground declaring intentions and the usual “New Year’s Resolutions” and goals I suggest lets first pause and reflect on our intuition.
For me I think of intuition it as my inner ‘wise mentor’ or guide.
And in a world of constant informational overload, a guide is well worth having don’t you think?
And although the good news is that we all have intuition, the truth though often can be that we forget it, we push past it, and go with the latest advice, trend, or the last opinion of someone outside us rather than this inner guide.
I am asking you to look inward. Take a moment now to pause, breathe and consider your intuition today.
Trusting our inner guide is key.
Trust is part of this process, to trust ourselves and to take account of our own intuition based “gut feeling” and then to act on it often not actually knowing the outcome, other than it is coming from a deep listening knowing.
The challenge, however, is not that we don’t or can’t do this, we can. The problem, I find when I talk to clients and challenge them, is that we are often simply out of practice.
Maybe it’s the technological world, maybe it’s our education being mainly taught facts and figures and less experiential, maybe it’s the fear [instincts] of doing it wrong or not perfectly that affects us, maybe we have learnt not to trust ourselves, maybe it’s a combination of all these things and a few more.
Whatever the cause, what I know to be true is that we can all benefit from acting and developing this inner guide and using intuition more now than ever and to create the beneficial effects it can offer.
Research has shown that going on our intuition may create quicker and better decision making overall . It’s a tricky thing to measure and very complex but must not be overlooked and when practiced it has been shown to improve over time.
A book written by the Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman describes fast intuitive thinking and slower more reason-based thinking and states that the faster system, intuition based, is actually prone to error by clouding judgement especially affected by how we frame up the decision as to if it is possible we may gain or lose in the process. That said it does have an important place in decision making.
How to listen to your gut and when to decide to act on it.
For myself I do use this intuitive approach in my thinking, but I don’t rely on it.
It’s my guide but I am overall in charge.
I don’t use it for all situations either. Sometimes decisions need to be made as a team or with hard facts to hand, they may depend on other events happening first and so on.
Now let’s look closer at our insides. How does that help here?
Anatomically we know it’s a bunch of organs, bloods vessels, lymphatic tissue, nerves and all the connective tissue that surround it.
Its connected and works daily to keep us in a place of balance or homeostasis.
Is this inside actually coming from our minds or, as the old saying “I’ve got a gut feeling about xxx“ suggests is that the truth? Is it possible that comes from our gut?
Again, we can turn to science and research to improve our own understanding and our own outcome here, for science, without application, is just words and theories.
I am sure many of you reading this have at least heard of the term “gut health”, or the gut-brain axis. There is a growing body of awareness and research to show that the brain and the gut are linked. The brain itself is an organ and it is how we use it – the mind that decides and impacts our interactions with the world around us and with others.
So how we think and how we behave, how we feel and how we decide is very much from our insides.
And in this way this subconscious, the non-conscious reasoning, is possibly the source of our intuition.
Following our gut instincts usually entails a journey of self-discovery. Have a look at this article to see how to discover yourself first.
There is more good news in that there has been shown that how we feed our gut with food as well as moving well, sleep and connection, impacts our brain and how we feed our brain with thoughts and neural programming, impacts our mind. Our mind affects our thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. The brain is the organ at the centre of our nervous system and does coordinate our nervous system, movements as well as our thoughts, memories, and feelings however the mind refers to the persons understanding of things, conscience and thought processing. Therefore looking after the organ, the brain, can also impact our mind.
There is evidence abound now that the micro-organisms that live in our gut and could be seen as our ‘powerhouse’, actually produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and GABA that are very much part of the creation of mood such as anxiety and depression. These hormones can impact our motivation, concentration. In simple terms our gut affects our brain and how we feel!
So, the neuroscience and the psychology begin to collide as the so-called psycho-neuro-gut connection is developing in understanding as increasing research builds. It is becoming more understandable how interconnected our mental health, gut health, brain health and immune system are. 
I am excited to see in time how we may understand more what that “rather difficult to pin down” thing called intuition actually is, and also most importantly how to use it better.
Top 5 tips for listening to your intuition
But for now, I shall suggest 5 tips to make the most of our insides and to develop our intuition;
- Get to know yourself. Yes YOU! That person living your life. Get to know how you tick, truly and honestly. No shoulds or musts. It’s YOUR life and YOUR body and Your MIND. And you are all ok. Ourselves under all the thoughts and conscious conflicts. Yes, you are all good. Listen to that part of you and let that be your guide.
- When our “go to” to check that all is ok or what to do for X has been the latest blog or IG influencer, we may be terrible at this practice. We have lost or can’t hear the inner voice and look outside ourselves for that wisdom. Let’s spend some time finding it and turning the volume up.
- But with time and commitment to listen to your inner wisdom you will, and can, get better. What is it that is right for you? What is it you need to do in terms of nutrition, moving, sleep, connection and so on? Let yourself and your intuitive self be the guide to the action you next make.
- Become aware of your own biases. This starts with the first tip but can develop so that we learn to stand back from ourselves for a moment to check-in and ask a question “is this true?” or “can I see this from a different perspective first?”.
Feed your gut with the right food for good body, brain and mental health. Yes, feeding the right bacteria is the way toward better emotional health.
- Move well and sleep well too as this allows your body and gut to flourish and support you in your quest to be connected to your own powerful intuition.
Make decisions based on you. Intuitive decisions when made on a deeper understanding of where we are honestly, avoids or diminishes unconscious bias. Knowing and being honest with what can create our own bias will help us stop and assess how useful that intuition is.
So, there you have it, my musings about intuition and your insides.
Enjoy your day, look after your body, trust yourself and listen to your gut!
Bye for Now
A few references used Lufityanto, G., Donkin, C., & Pearson, J. (2016). Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence. Psychological Science. doi: 10.1177/0956797616629403  https://www.forbes.com/sites/taraswart/2019/09/17/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-brain-and-probiotics/?sh=5ad59a5246cd  https://psychology.stackexchange.com/questions/767/difference-between-instinct-and-intuition  Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman
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