Have you ever actually sat down and thought about how you make decisions? We've all heard of the conscious vs the unconscious, ego vs intuition, instinct vs reason, personality vs higher self but have you actually thought about, deeply and quietly, the difference in the two worlds? I honestly don't know if it's just the age I am now or the thirst for more understanding but I find myself wanting to connect deeper with my intuition now more than ever. If you are reading this blog I'm assuming (and hoping) that means you are interested as well. Here are most of my findings over the last year and a half...
Understand the difference between instinct and reason. Instinct is a natural or inherent impulse or behavior, while reason is a cause. Reason is the process of reaching a conclusion by a systematic comparison of facts. We need both reason and instinct to help guide us in life.
The differences between the conscious and unconscious mind. The conscious mind uses and relies on logic. Whereas the unconscious mind taps into our past, present, and future to connect instinctual feelings in a nonlinear way. To the conscious mind, such nonlinear thinking is defying logic. But that doesn't mean our unconscious instincts are wrong. For example: You have a job interview and your gut points you in the direction of a red shirt. Your conscious mind tells you red is too aggressive so you look for something else. However, your subconscious led you to the red shirt because it reminds you that wearing red makes you feel good, which in turn boosts your confidence. Your intuition can be a powerful guiding force.
Your ego usually appears when you're about to do something new and different. The ego wants to keep you safe but this can also inhibit growth by 'playing small.' Fear of rejection or failure can keep us within our comfort zone. A great way of knowing if your ego wants to keep you small is to hear those concerns but ask yourself if expanding will benefit you in the long run. If the answer is yes, try putting your ego aside. Here is the key...finding the difference in the voice that says don't walk alone down the dark alley at night and the voice telling you not to try something new because you might get embarrassed. One is actually keeping you safe while the other is keeping you small.
The difference between "expansive" and "contractive." Expansive feelings are those which are light, powerful, or exciting. Think of the sensation you get after doing something you truly love or even a solid workout. When you can't wait to get started on something, there's a good chance you're feeling expansive. Meanwhile, contractive feelings are heavy and tight. A sense of dread or secrecy can accompany these feelings. Physical manifestations of contractive emotions include having a clenched jaw or being hunched over. Tapping into feeling expansive or contractive is about reading your body as a whole. Once you identify your body's physical sensations, you know if your intuition is telling you to either move forward or take a step back.
Body scan. Your whole body, not just your gut, is your most valuable intuitive tool. The best way to tap into what your body is telling you is to perform a body scan. To do this, simply take a few minutes each day to recognize any emotions, or physical sensations felt throughout your body. Give yourself a minute to relax, then ask a question you need guidance on. The immediate sensation in your body is your intuitive response. For example, if you ask, 'Am I working for the right company?' and you start to feel queasy or tense, your intuition is telling you no. However, if you instantly feel light and happy, your intuition is telling you yes. You can do this type of body scan in the morning and again in the evening and compare notes. Noticing your emotions and body reactions is the first step to re-establishing the frayed connection with your gut.
Be courageous and daydream about your life. What would you like to see happen in your life? What do you hope for when you consider the future? Don't censor the ideas that come to you. The more you allow your body to steer you where you need to go, the louder its guidance will become. Instead of giving into your busy brain, practice telling the voice in your head to step aside to allow your body to guide your decisions once in a while. When the negative thoughts pop up, just know that it's your brain trying to take back control.
Shake things up. Doing the same things over and over forces your brain into auto-pilot. This dulls your senses and serves your connection to your body. So, take a different route to work. Cook something new. Go to an event you usually wouldn't. Practice pausing throughout your day and reflecting on the message your intuition sent you.
Pay attention to even the tiniest sensations. When your intuition is really trying to communicate with you, it may try to get your attention by forcing you to notice patterns throughout your life. For example, if you've wanted to find a new job but have been afraid to take the plunge, your intuition may kick in by subtly leading you to notice particular career articles or job postings to help get your attention. When you take note to patterns, you become open to following your intuition. The next time you have free time, instead of jumping into your never ending to-do list, take a moment to allow your mind to rest. This can lead to those 'ah-ha' moments. Meditation is a great way to find stillness because in moments of relaxation it's easier to notice where your thoughts are leading you.
Learning how to listen to your intuition takes time, practice, and patience. I practice it everyday. Some days are easier than others. Just don't let your brain take over all the time. The more you can develop your relationship with your body the happier you will be. It will feel uncomfortable at first but most new relationships are. It's the relationships you cultivate and nurture the most that have the best staying power.