Updated: Jun 2, 2019
“You know you’re on the right path when you don’t have to betray yourself.” Caroline Myss
Wow, how much do I love that quote?! SO MUCH. I think all of us have been there…in a position where we were betraying ourselves. You know you’re betraying yourself when you feel like your forcing something that just isn’t right. It might even start showing up in your body in different ways. Your throat could actually hurt from swallowing down the true words you need to speak. You have an anxiety headache because your head is trying to do too much thinking, often because it’s in protective mode. Whatever it is, I really can’t think of anyone who hasn’t betrayed themselves in some form, unless they were born wise and all-knowing from the get-go!
Living by your intuition and teaching others how to do so is one of the hardest things in the field of psychology. But it doesn’t mean we can’t try. The oxford English dictionary defines intuition as the quick perception of truth without conscious attention or reasoning; knowledge from within; instinctive knowledge or feeling. To some, living off of intuition is described as “following your gut” or having a sense that you “just know” something is right or wrong. Intuition has been treated like the employee who is near retirement but keeps going because she is indispensable. Attitudes about her vary, some don’t even know she exists, some say her contributions are trivial, some try to keep her presence a secret while secretly revering her. A growing number are now supporting her. Here are some starters to notice about intuition:
1) First, notice if you’re inclined to operate solely from your head
It’s not bad to use logic, not one bit. But it is bad when that’s all you use. Society has it set up that this has been the most respected way of making decisions or “knowing.” However, wisdom has been replaced by knowledge, and knowledge replaced by information. Information can only go so far…you have to know what to do with it. Living solely from the head means you might lack creativity and feel stuck. If you’re only using logic, or the left hemisphere, you’re forgetting to use the rest of your brain…and your body. We were given all of it to be integrated, whole humans.
2) When you’re living from your inner guide, you don’t feel like you’re going against your integrity.
Here we are talking about living with integrity in a way that we are being truthful with ourselves. We all know when we’re kidding ourselves…our insides tell us. We might try to push down what we know is right in various ways, but if we are forcing a direction that isn’t right it will show itself. This isn’t to say that there are “right” and “wrong” decisions. I want to point this out as a recovering perfectionist. You can’t make a perfect decision. So, just know that if you make a decision that is not as right as it could be, it will work itself out.
3) See if it breathes life into you…or feelings like it sucks the air out of you
Notice how easily you can breathe when you picture an outcome. Or, notice which of two options seems to energize you more. I’ve had some clients even picture what they look like when making a decision that is in line with their gut-level knowing and have described something like “I can picture myself standing with my arms in the air, fists up to the sky, almost like a victory stance.” I’ve also had another say, “I see my arms wide open, accepting the goodness that is coming my way.” For some it might be a very clear calm that comes over them or an ease of breathing. For others, you might still feel some inner turmoil. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Whenever you make big life decisions it’s normal to feel some inner unsettledness, especially if you’re deciding between multiple good options. Deciding between what is good and what is best can be one of the trickiest spots to be! There might even need to be a process of letting go of one possibility, of morning one path, in order to fully step into the one that is more “right” for you at the time. Don’t fret if you still experience some stress. Just trust yourself to make the decision that fits best for you at whatever stage in life you’re in.
Practicing listening to your inner voice takes a lot of practice. It also takes courage, too, because we know all too well how to stuff down that voice. Notice what you need to do to connect to that inner voice…cut out things from your life so you’re not overly busy, take time to be still and quiet, create an actual space in your home to “listen”...there are many options, choose what works for you. I wish you the best as you explore connecting to your “gut-level-knowing”!