Do you ever have gut feelings, sometime? Or a tiny voice in your head, or butterflies in the tummy, or…. Whatever form it takes: How do you know it’s instinct or intuition?
How do you know when it is a good idea to follow it?
On instinct, intuition, gut feeling, embodiment, and broccoli latte…
A lot of my coaching is towards living more intuitively. Often in my coaching sessions, and almost always if the session is around relationship to food, a statement shows up:”Oh well if I listen to my intuition I would be eating ice cream all the time.” (Replace ice cream by pizza, broccoli latte or whatever is your your favorite).
There’s this idea that you cannot trust your intuition because it’s just plain wrong.
Well, I disagree! What they are talking about is not intuition, but instinct. And it’s too bad, because relationship to food is much easier when you intuitively choose the right food. Relationships are much easier when you intuitively choose the right partners and so on and so forth.
Instinct is a reaction
It’s not something that you see coming and it’s not subtle.
It can be innate. If you were human and a bear shows up, you will have the instinct to freeze or run; I mean, most likely. If you believe you’re Superman, you might instinctively try to fight (but honestly I think it might not be the best option).
Instinct can also come from experience: Something you learned in your childhood for example. What was the case in your country of origin, in your family? So, for example, if you’re French and if I’m sticking to the example of food, at the end of a meal you will need something sweet to feel your lunch is over.
Or if you like me the first time you tasted coffee it felt awful, your instinct is to feel
Note how instinct looks logical to your intellect and you have a few habits coming from it.
Intuition is knowledge without intellectual process
And oh does it often looks weird and not logic at all… At least until later!
For example if you look at the history of planes that have crashed, there is a higher rate of people cancelling their booking on those planes. Why? For now no-one has come up with a better explanation than they listened to their gut feeling.
Absolutely nonsense on the spot, potentially life-saving and justified in the end.
And we all have the experience of regretting listening to it at the time.
That is a thing with intuition: It is subtle.
But it is also always true. The thing is, because it’s subtle, and doesn’t make sense, we don’t know what to do with it and try to understand it. And because it often looks completely irrational, we find a lot of reasons not to listen to it; when the only thing to do with it is trusting it and following. We’ll have time to make sense later.
How do we listen?
Instinct is a reaction, often very emotional, often very strong… Kind of hard NOT to follow!
Intuition is much subtle and it’s depends on the senses, on the sensory input. So it is related to the awareness we have of our senses.
Therefore the more embodied you are, the more aware of your physical, emotional, etc, intelligences, the closer you are to your intuition. You’re going to feel it in your body, like for example a sudden sense of tension in the chest; and if you are aware enough of your normal state, you will recognise it is not your norm, and be able to know something is off.
Why is intuition better for taking decisions?
Because it is an embodied skill, it can hold way more information than the intellect. Remember the magical 7 ± 2 number that represents the bits of information we can hold in our conscious intellect?
But often to take an informed decision, we need to compare way more pieces of information than that. That’s when the intellect goes into overwhelm and analysis paralysis, and intuition “just knows”.
I personally use it daily, but even more so when I’m travelling. For example to “feel the atmosphere” of a place.
Train and use your intuition
An easy exploration you can start today to develop your relationship with your intuition is this: Each time you go through a door or gates or something resembling that, do a check on your sensations, especially physical sensations.
You can go more granular as you become used to be aware of your sense, but for starters, ask yourself:
How do I feel globally?
- How do I breathe?
- Are my muscles relaxing or tensing?
Just notice, and mentally note what you are noticing again and again. Soon enough you will have a database of sensations and will be able to know your global “normal” state. That is the first step to be able to notice the difference, when you feel more tense than usual or breathing more shallow, or more in the chest, etc.
And then going on with the exploration, you will get a sense of what it means for you.
Stay with your sensations, don’t try and analyse them too soon: Remember that intuition lies in the body, not in the intellect.
That is the next level: Once you have a clear sense of you embodied “normal” state, and of the messages your embodied intelligences are sending you, then you can use then to adapt to the situation in the best way.
So much quicker than if you had to think about it.
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Stay tuned for the next episode, à bientôt. 😉
(Intro music for the podcast: “Tiny people”, by Alexei De Bronhe )