Amy C. Willis
Listen to Your Gut, Lady: 5 Tips on How to Tap Into & Strengthen Your Intuition
Gut feelings. Instincts. Inner wisdom. Higher self. Intuition.
Whatever you want to label it, I firmly believe and know that we all have a strong, innate sense of intuition within us. I also believe that our intuition, like a muscle, can be strengthened and expanded over time and with practice. The first step in (re)connecting to our intuition is to remember that it’s there. To serve us. To protect us. To steer us gently in the right direction.
Sadly, we - I’m talking to you, sisters - have subtly and not so subtly been taught to ignore, diminish and silence our inner knowing. We’ve been taught to value the opinions of others over our own. We’ve been taught not to single ourselves out, not to separate from the herd, not to think and act differently, even if thinking and acting differently will ultimately benefit us (and in many cases, keep us safe). We’ve been taught to value being polite over listening to our gut because heaven forbid we offend the person (likely a dude) who’s about to physically attack us.
We’ve been taught to value fitting in and going with the flow over speaking up and speaking out. We’ve been told our gut feelings are just plain wrong and that we shouldn’t trust our instincts. To this I say: no more.
I’ve been feeling really called to hone in on my intuition a lot more lately. I’m paying closer attention to signs and messages and am bringing my awareness to heart and mind, gently nudging myself to receive and accept what’s being delivered. I’ve never felt more connected to my inner voice and my intuition than I do right now and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
In reflecting on the journey that I’m on, I can’t help but also feel incredibly grateful for my sobriety. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would not be this connected to self if I was still drinking. Of course I wouldn’t. When I was drinking, I was literally taking every opportunity possible to leave myself and escape my life. With every sip, I was abandoning myself so of course I wasn’t able to connect with myself and my intuition in the ways I am now able to.
In my evolution of deepening my connection to self and moving closer to alignment, I have become so clear in knowing that with every step I take towards deepening my intuition, I am also stepping more fully into my power. Trusting my intuition and acting on that trust is an act of personal power. I am leaning into myself, trusting my knowing and living my life in accordance with my values, purpose, love, and passions. And it feels effing amazing.
So perhaps you’re thinking: “Well, that’s great, Amy. I’m glad you’ve found a deeper connection to yourself and your intuition. But I’d love to know how I can start to tap into my own intuition and build some trust with myself. I’ve been pushing my intuition down for so long, I’m worried that it’s gone entirely.”
I hear ya, sister. And I’ve been where you are. Learning to listen to my inner voice and trust myself after years of abandoning myself was hard but not impossible. And the good news is there are a few things you can start to do today that support you in learning to listen, take action and build that trust within you. Here are 5 (hopefully helpful!) tips to get you started on your journey to (re)discover and strengthen your intuition!
1.) Quit Outsourcing Your Intuition
When we are constantly asking others to help us make decisions, validate the decisions that we have made and look to other people to inform our thoughts, beliefs and opinions, we are outsourcing our intuition. We are looking outward instead of inward for the answers. In doing this, we are placing a greater degree of value and importance on what someone else (often, anyone else) believes and thinks on a certain topic, handing over our power for someone else to decide. Instead, let’s challenge this idea for a second. Who is this person and why is their opinion immediately more valid, accurate or true than yours? The answer is that this person is just a person (like you) and their opinion isn’t any more or less valid, accurate or true than yours. Everyone holds beliefs and opinions. And they are just that - opinions. Not truth, gospel or sacred. Or at the very least, not any more or less true or sacred than your opinions. The next time you find yourself seeking out someone’s feedback, guidance or advice on something, pause for a second and remember: their opinions and your opinions are equal. My challenge to you is that you avoid seeking out opinions, feedback and advice from others for at least a week. Redirect the power you’ve been giving away to others and redirect it back to yourself. Value and honour your inner wisdom and intuition. Look to yourself for the answer instead and then gently, curiously observe what unfolds.
2.) Identify and Challenge Your Fears
Oftentimes, fear is the underlying feeling that motivates our actions or in many cases, holds us back from taking action. We worry about making the wrong decision and having it turn out poorly. We fear the personal responsibility implicit in making choices for ourselves (cause if something goes “wrong”, we’ll have no one to blame for it). We worry what others’ might think of us. We are concerned that the decision will make us look bad. It is our fear that prompts us to reach out to others for validation. While fear often underlies our decision, below our fear is our human urge for love, acceptance and belonging. When we reach out to others to help us make decisions, we often end up reinforcing those human urges. We act and think in accordance with the herd, our community or our peers. In many cases, what is best for us is not to run with the crowd but fear holds us back and in listening to fear, we stop listening to our intuition. Spend some time identifying the fears that are getting in the way of you listening to and acting on your intuition. Mentally (and if you want to journal about it), take your fears to their outer limits. An activity I often use with clients is called “Worst Case Scenario”. What’s the worst possible outcome that could happen if you listen to and act on your intuition? Play it out, in your journal, and see what comes up. In reality, things rarely manifest in the ways that they did in your worst case scenario dreamscape.
3.) Limit Your Distractions
Between social media, 24 hour news on multiple channels, and being accessible by phone, email and text every second of every day, it becomes really important to bring your awareness to what you’re consuming and to minimize distractions. For years now, I’ve placed pretty strong parameters around how much news I consume and am very intentional about what I allow into my physical, energetic, emotional and mental space. If an account on Instagram prompts feelings of guilt, shame, or stress, I unfollow them ASAP. As I become more and more selective about what I’m consuming (people, content, energy, etc.), I find that I feel more affirmed in my own voice and what I’m sharing in the world. Not that you need permission from anyone but your damn self but please feel very welcome to remove anyone IRL, on social media, the news streaming into your home, etc. that makes you question yourself and your voice. If you’re watching or consuming something, pay attention to what your intuition is telling you and take action on the advice you’ve being offered cause it’s guiding you in the right direction for you.
4.) Create Space to Listen
Like any other skill you want to develop, you’ll need to be intentional about creating time and space for tuning into your intuition. It won’t just happen on its own so make an effort to carve out some time for it. Yes, there are moments throughout your day when messages and guidance will be offered to you internally so try to tune in. And it can be infinitely helpful to set aside time, space and silence for your inner voice to shine through. Meditation is a great opportunity to create some inner calm and quiet while also creating space to simply listen. I would also invite you to ask for guidance from your higher self, your guides, God, the Universe, whatever you believe in. You will always receive an answer and you’ll always be led in the right direction. You simply have to ask and practice patience. The answer may not be delivered on your schedule or in the way you expect it should be so be patient and open and keep listening. Free flow writing is also another way to create space and open yourself up for messages to channel through you. Give both a try and see what happens.
5.) Practice, Practice, Practice
A HUGE piece of strengthening your intuition is to not only tune into it but also, to act on it. Following your intuition, like anything else that’s new to you, will require intention and repetition. When it comes to acting on your intuition, give it a try and simply see what happens. You can call on your intuition in relatively low stakes situations like what you eat and when (intuitive eating is magic and powerful - look it up!) or allowing your intuition to guide which route you take on your next walk. If a friend pops into your head, for seemingly no reason (hint: there’s always a reason), call them and see what unfolds. There are lots of ways to tune into your intuition and practice acting on it. In practicing following your intuition, you’re also collecting evidence of your intuitive successes and building trust in yourself and your intuition, which will make following your intuition in the future easier.
So there you have it! I hope you know that your intuition is there, simply waiting for you to tune in. She’s ready to guide you - all you have to do is ask, listen and act. By stepping into your intuition, you’re stepping more fully into yourself and your power. And I can’t think of anything more awesome than that. Cheering you on!
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