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Trusting Your Gut: How To Listen To Your Intuition and Make Better Decisions

Cain Parish

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In a world filled with endless choices and complex decisions, finding a reliable compass to guide you can be challenging. Your intuition, often referred to as your “gut feeling,” is that innate sense within you that can offer profound insights and guide you toward better decisions. Trusting your gut is not just a hunch; it’s a skill that can be cultivated to make more informed choices. This article delves into the art of listening to your intuition, providing actionable steps, personal experiences, and expert advice to help you harness the power of your instincts.

A man walking towards a spiritual portal, following his intuition

Why You Should Care About Trusting Your Gut

Intuition, otherwise known as your gut, is a heuristic. It’s a decision making tool that gives you a shortcut when considering your options. It simplifies your life by letting go of the cognitive load of making choices and reduces it to what your experience, thoughts and feelings all combine to determine for you.

It can be scary to give up complete cognitive control to something so innate and instinctive, especially for control freaks like me. However, it can also be incredibly freeing. Trusting that you know what to eat because your intuition recognises what foods are healthy for you and in line with your diet saves you quite a lot of headache. 

Think about it. You can look at a plate of food and know immediately whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. That’s not carefully considering the macros and micros of each ingredient or somehow working out the calorie count from a glance. That’s your years of experiences as a human being that has to feed themselves all combined into one to tell you what is and isn’t good to put in your mouth.

If we had to logically appraise every single plate of food for its health factors, we’d go insane. At some point we have to jump into the passenger seat and trust that our subconscious knows what it’s doing. The larger the decision that you can trust to your intuition, the better.

Now turn that same kind of process to the world of dating and relationships. We know on a first date if we liked someone or we didn’t. That’s our gut at work. Whatever the other person did, however they sat or spoke or fidgeted or acted all came together to be entirely binary. Yes or no. That was your intuition speaking.

Unfortunately, when it comes to these bigger decisions, like what partner(s) to keep around, whether to break up with someone, to take a job, to sleep with someone or not, or whatever equally life-shattering concepts you turn your intuition towards, it can be hard to know whether your heart is in the right place. 

That’s why we care about developing our intuitive skills, so we can offload our mental strain to our subconscious and know for a fact that our instincts are in the right place. So, let’s learn how to do it.

Trusting Your Gut: How to Listen to Your Intuition and Make Better Decisions

Trusting your gut isn’t about throwing logic out the window; it’s about tapping into the wealth of knowledge your subconscious mind holds. Depending on the circumstances, it’s very likely that your unconscious mind has all the information you need for it to make a well-rationed and sensible choice. You’ve probably heard people tell you to trust your gut, or take a gut feeling at face value, and this is why. Your instinctive feeling is a summation of all your experience, thoughts, feelings and emotions on a given topic.

In some cases, this can be a bad thing. Anxiety or uncertainty are going to cloud your judgement and make it harder to trust the voice in the back of your head. If you’re an anxious person, you’re likely to find yourself at conflict with this voice. However, in areas of life where you’re an expert or have no reason to doubt yourself, your intuition will usually provide a competent result. 

Take grandmasters at chess, for example. These individuals spend years of their life honing their craft and studying theory. When they look at the chessboard, they decide their move in a split second. This doesn’t come from a conscious decision, but years of pattern recognition and iteration over time. Our brain learns what works and what doesn’t very quickly, especially when we focus on a new skill. In areas of your expertise, act like a grandmaster and let your experience guide your intuition.

Here are essential steps to help you master the art of intuitive decision-making:

Cultivate Experience & Knowledge

Everything starts with experience and understanding. Intuition without experience is simply just guessing. You’re unlikely to make a good move on your first date by trusting your gut. Dating and relationships are a matter of practice, just like any other skill. Absorb as much information as you can, and trust your brain to process the important bits. Your worst dates contain just as much experience as your good ones.

Be aware of how far along the beginner curve you are. At first, your intuition will make some shocking snap judgements. Try and work out what it was that steered your gut wrong. Learn from that decision and reassess patterns the next time you see them. 

Tuning In to Your Inner Voice

Listening to your intuition starts with creating space for it to be heard. In our fast-paced lives, we often drown out our inner voice with external noise. Take moments of stillness and reflection to connect with your gut feelings. 

Self-awareness and mindfulness are habits that can cultivate a stronger connection with the voice at the back of your head. These things only come from emotional processing, something that you’re unable to do whilst distracted.

Recognizing Sensations

Your body can provide powerful signals about a decision’s rightness. Pay attention to how your body reacts – whether it’s a sinking feeling in your stomach or a sense of lightness – and learn to interpret these sensations.

Additionally, pay attention to your senses. A weirdly common phenomenon is that of memories being brought on by smell. Ex-girlfriends that used a particular perfume always rush to my mind when I sniff the same scent somewhere else. Taste, touch, smell and sounds all inform your decisions alongside what you simply see with your eyes. Much of these sensory inputs go under the radar, and will bias your gut one way or another if you’re not able to identify and allow for them.

Embracing Past Experiences

Your intuition is informed by your life experiences. Reflect on past situations where your gut proved to be correct. What were the signs you ignored? Use these insights to refine your intuitive skills. As I said above, your brain stores information much better than you give it credit for.

When I learn something or come to a profound realisation, rather than intently scramble to take notes, I trust my brain to store the experience away for me. If the particular phrasing is important to me, or the thought is rather complex, by all means write it down, but you’d be surprised what you’ve read that your subconscious memory has retained.

Balancing Intuition with Logic

While intuition is valuable, combining it with logical analysis can lead to well-rounded decisions. Let your gut guide you, but also examine the facts objectively to ensure a balanced approach.

Develop a critical filter. Accept the conclusion your gut has come to, and give that decision an appropriate amount of consideration and weight. When you get more practiced, you can simply accept your intuition at face value, but as you practice, your gut might be slightly off. Modify your decisions as your logic sees fit, for that balance will help your intuitive abilities next time.

Overcoming Fear and Doubt

Trusting your gut requires letting go of fear and self-doubt. These negative emotions can cloud your intuition. Clearing the path for accurate intuitive insights requires emotional stability and relatively solid mental health. Depressed people do not have good snap judgements, just as anxious people shouldn’t trust their gut.

Of course, dealing with mental illness is easier said than done. It is my thorough opinion that your mental state will trickle down into every aspect of your life, including your intuition. It’s not a short, band-aid solution, but at a foundational level of your dating and holistic life, it’s important to seek appropriate resolutions for your mental baggage.

Like I said before, our intuition is a sum of our learning, experience and our emotions on the topic at hand. Mental instability or illness only inhibits those elements. Intuitive decisions are always going to be clouded by a damaging state of mind. Just as your experience should inform your ability to trust your gut, so too should your mental state surrounding the topic.

Seeking Solitude for Clarity

In the midst of a decision-making process, solitude can provide the mental clarity needed to hear your intuition. Step away from distractions to focus on your inner guidance.

This doesn’t mean to find another physical space, although that can be a potential solution. Take a step back from the conversation or the rushed judgement that you find yourself making. Mindfulness as a concept is about putting space between something happening towards you and your subsequent reaction to it. Adopt that same ability when looking inwards, and your intuition will have the space to react appropriately.

Consulting with Trusted Advisors

Don’t hesitate to seek advice from mentors or friends you trust. Sometimes, an external perspective can shed light on aspects you might have missed and validate your intuition. As much as you believe you have all the boxes checked or understand a problem completely, people around you think in ways that you simply can’t. Alternative viewpoints always have the potential to help you think more entirely about a situation.

Trusting Your Values

Your intuition often aligns with your core values. Consider whether a decision resonates with your beliefs. If there’s a misalignment, your gut will likely signal a need for reconsideration. The qualities that you care about and wish to hold true to should inform much of your subconscious mind. Your gut will tell you if a decision is in line with those desires.

Working towards a more idealised version of yourself will help develop your gut in line with those values. For example, did you know you can choose your values? When your insides match your outside and the whole package is backed up by your subconscious, your intuition will mirror your true desires.

The Power of Intuition in Daily Life

Trusting your gut extends beyond significant life decisions. It can enhance various aspects of your daily life, including:

Enhancing Creativity

Intuition can be a wellspring of creativity. Allowing your instincts to guide your creative process can lead to unique and innovative outcomes. Art isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being authentic and producing something you care about, something that is in line with what you think and feel. Intuition can often be your source of originality.

Improving Relationships

Intuitive insights can help you understand others on a deeper level. By listening to your gut, you’ll be more attuned to the emotions and needs of those around you. It’s deeply involved in the idea of calibration, the idea of reading the room and adjusting your behaviour on the fly in a social setting.

When faced with challenges, your intuition can offer guidance on the best course of action. Trusting your instincts can lead you to solutions you might not have considered otherwise. What is right for you and what is objectively right may often be two different concepts, and something doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to get the job done.

Making Career Choices

Trusting your gut in career decisions can lead you toward a path that aligns with your passions and strengths. It can also help you recognize opportunities that may not be immediately apparent. Life decisions in general are important to target with intuition. The bigger the decision, the more legwork you have to do to consider the whole thing logically

Conclusion

Trust your gut. Intuition is a powerful skill that can transform your life. By understanding and nurturing your intuition, you’ll become more confident in your choices and uncover a deeper connection to your inner self. Remember, intuition is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. So, start embracing your inner compass and watch your decision-making process flourish.

F.A.Q.s

How can I develop my intuition for better decision-making?

Developing intuition involves cultivating experience, tuning into your inner voice, recognizing bodily sensations, and embracing past experiences to refine your intuitive skills.


Can intuition be trusted over logical analysis?

Intuition should not replace logical analysis but complement it. A balanced approach that incorporates both intuition and logic can lead to well-rounded decisions.


How does intuition impact daily life?

Intuition can enhance creativity, improve relationships, navigate challenges, and make career choices that align with your passions and strengths. Learning and adapting based on the information you’re able to assess will improve your intuitive abilities moving forward.

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About

Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of cainparish.com. A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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