When someone tells you they’re “following their intuition” what they truly mean is that their body is intuitively telling them something and that they’re following that intuition in order to make a decision.
It’s an ability we all share. We all experience times when a voice within seems to guide us. Perhaps it tells us not to enter a dark room, or that for some reason we really must call home immediately.
Scientific research has proven that when you experience moments of intuition, you really should listen to what your instincts are telling you.
There are many theories regarding the role or intuition and instinct. David Myers PhD, a social psychologist at Hope College, says that the right brain is constantly scanning the environment and registering information. This information is then fed back to the body in the form of gut instincts and various physical sensations.
Not only do your instincts help to make you aware of what’s happening around you, but they also help you to stay focused on what matters. As Judith Orloff PhD states, “Living more intuitively demands that you’re in the moment,” she says, “and that makes for a more passionate life.”
Intuition and instincts can be wrong at times. “Emotions hamper decision-making. For instance, blindly falling in love with a house, and paying little attention to the inspection results, may leave you with a money pit,” says Margarita Tartakovsky. But at the same time, your intuition and instincts are often the wisest counsel you have.
There are five times in particular when you really should listen to your intuition and follow your instincts.
5 Times You Need To Listen To Your Intuition And Follow Your Instincts
1: Listen to your intuition when you experience unease in the body
You’ve experienced this before. It’s that sudden feeling of unease. It’s most commonly felt in the pit of the stomach, a sort of nausea created by anxiety. Ignore this sensation at your peril.
Your body instinctively knows when something is wrong. Your mind is constantly interpreting information from the environment and using that information to tell your bran where you are and what’s going on. Let’s say for instance that you’re walking down a dark alley. Your mind will be automatically scanning the alley for threat. Should a strange man then appear, your mind will immediately begin to scan him to find out whether he is a threat. If your mind decided that he is a danger it will produce sensations of unease. This unease is intended as a warning, and you’d be very wise to listen to that warning.
A few years back scientists from the University of Iowa decided to investigate the role of intuition and instinct. They had research subjects play Chance with stacks of money and card decks. Different cards revealed whether or not the subject had won the money. What the research subjects were not aware of, however, was that the card decks were rigged. The decks had been stacked so that two of the decks yielded large payouts and the other two consistently led to losses. After 50 cards the test subjects began to favour the card deck that was giving out the high payouts.
But here’s the truly amazing thing about that test. Within as few as ten cards the players began to show physical reactions to the cards. When the player reached for the “bad” deck their hands started to sweat. Jonah Lehrer, a contributor to Wired, says “The players instinctively knew which decks were good and bad, although the subject still had little inkling of which card piles were the most lucrative. The subject’s feelings figured out the game first.”
2: Listen to your intuition when a voice inside says “I’m in danger right now”
Have you seen Final Destination, the movie where one person foresees impending doom for another? The movies are fiction, of course, but nevertheless they portray something very real. They portray the reality of intuition.
Recently I was in a bar when a big burly guy came in, narrowed eyes scanning the place. I sensed immediately that something was wrong with this guy, so I asked the man behind the bar if he knew who he was. Turns out the guy was a troublemaker and a vandal who had previously been arrested for smashing up a nearby restaurant. Thankfully I listened to my instinct and kept away from the man in question.
What I noticed at that time was that my feet and hands suddenly felt warmer. My body was redirecting blood to my hands and feet—the classic “fight or flight” response to a threat.
“Your body is a powerful intuitive communicator,” explains Orloff. “Intuition provides warning signs.If you have a gut feeling about your body — that something is toxic, weak or ‘off’ — listen to it.”
My body was sending me signals about the guy who’d entered the bar. Had I not listened to those instincts I may well have ended up in a fight. Have you experienced similar sensations? Times when your body was trying to tell you something. Did you listen to the warnings? If not, what happened?
If your hands and feet suddenly feel warmer and more energized. Or if you feel a sudden onset of nausea. Or if you suddenly experience anxiety, your instinct is telling you that a threat is nearby. Follow your instinct.
3: Listen to your intuition when a voice inside says “They need help”
Gut instincts can be altruistic. Sometimes we see a person and we immediately get the sense that something is wrong and that they need help. What’s happening in this situation is that the mind is unconsciously scanning the body language of the other person. This happens all the time, without our conscious involvement. We are constantly scanning people, interpreting their moves and actions, judging whether they’re a friend or enemy, whether they’re happy or sad, whether they can help us or whether we can help them.
Have you ever experienced a moment when you saw someone and immediately had a very strong urge to help them?
This desire to help others is hardwired into us at birth. It’s a genetic type of compassion. The reason for it is quite simple. We humans are not very strong on our own. In the wild we rely on groups or tribes in order to survive. We’re constantly looking at the world from that tribal mentality. If we see someone we can help we do so, because we know we may soon require help ourselves.
If your intuition is telling you that you should go and help someone, do it. Odds are you’ll make a real impact on that person’s day and they’ll be truly thankful that they met you. And besides, nothing on Earth feels better than helping another human being (well, except maybe helping an animal).
Lehrer states, “Sympathy is one of humanity’s most basic instincts. Evolution has keenly developed regions of the brain that relate to thinking about the feelings of others.”
4: Listen to your intuition when you think “I’ve got this”
Maybe you’re amazing at dancing. Or cooking. Or you just sense that you’re a really good person. If you intuitively believe in one of your talents you should follow it.
Many truly talented people have a terrible time trusting their talents. They overthink everything. They’re constantly asking themselves, “Have I got this? Do I know what I’m doing? Am I prepared?” and so on and so on. Their mind and body constantly send signals to their brain saying that yes, they are one hundred percent in control and good to go, but they don’t listen, they still doubt themselves.
Have you ever experienced a time when you felt confident but you didn’t trust that confidence?
I spent a lot of my life touring England as a theatre actor. There were many times when I would question whether I knew my lines or not. I felt confident but I didn’t trust the way I felt. This led me to stepping onstage doubting myself. Instead of truly going for it and launching into my lines confidently, I questioned myself. I didn’t trust my instincts. Not trusting myself led to worry, and worry made me perform at a less than optimum level. Essentially, I choked.
“Choking is a vivid example of the havoc that can be caused by too much thought,” says Lehrer. “Such deliberate thought processes interfere with the trained movements of the muscles.” In other words, because I was thinking too much onstage, I disrupted my own performance.
If you’f feeling good about a specific talent or skill, there’s a reason for that confidence and you should believe in yourself. Follow your instincts. “Once you’ve developed expertise in a particular area it’s important to trust your emotions when making decisions in that domain,” Lehrer says.
If you know you can do it, trust your instincts.
5: Listen to your intuition when something feels right
There are times when you feel, deep down, that something is right. Maybe it’s the feeling that you should change career, or the feeling that you’ve just met your next boyfriend or girlfriend, or the feeling that you should sign up at the gym.
Major decisions like these tend to create strong feelings inside of us, and we should probably follow those feelings. Your instincts are there for a reason. Follow them. As Orloff concludes, “Your intuition and instincts let you find relationships that resonate for you, instead of what looks good on paper. They let you connect with people on a heart level. They lead to a very deep experience of life instead of just letting life wash over you.”
Listen to your intuition. Follow your instincts. They are powerful guides in your life. And if you truly want to start using your intuition, be sure to read my guide to your subconscious mind power.
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