As usual I never follow my plans, not in my work, not in my life, not in my blog! Yesterday evening I had an excellent conversation with my flatmate and I thought to write about one of the topics we talked about, which was education and obedience (to come soon though!). However this morning I was confronted with my own life as it is at this moment and I changed my mind, ending up preferring to write about intuition (or gut feeling).
It is often illuminating to search for the meaning of words thus I always love to do it. So I investigated the meaning of intuition and gut feeling, and I found the following (Macmillan online dictionary):
“Intuition – an ability to know or understand something through your feelings, rather by considering facts or evidence.”
“Gut feeling/instinct – a feeling that you are certain is right, although you can give no good reason why.”
I would like to highlight in the definitions above three main words: feelings, feels right, no reason/don’t know why. To me these words encompass the core of intuition and also transform it in something somehow difficult to maintain throughout life and to nurture as a guide in the most difficult moments and decisions in life.
Many people find it difficult to listen to their intuition what is really a shame because life is much more organic and whole whenever we do it. I also relate intuition with happiness and joy in the sense that I am convinced it leads people through the ‘right’ way in their personal life journey.
Let’s explore some facts about intuition and its place in society. Intuition is often associated to gender. Women are the one who are expected to be intuitive, the so-called sixth sense I guess. Therefore it almost seems that men are precluded of this ‘gift’… I quite disagree with this gendered conception of intuition, as I believe all human beings are born with the capacity to know what is right for them at every moment, although through education and socialisation they may lose it. This is mostly true for men (but not only) who are often raised in total disconnection with their feelings and therefore also with their intuition.
Although intuition provides guidance in decision-making or choices it does not offer any sort of explanation (the reasons why). Indeed people who take intuitive decisions cannot really say why it is right, it just feels right. This seems to be more of a shortcoming in western society that is rational, logic and scientific. How to dare to decide something important without doing at least an inventory of pros and cons and without analysing trends and scientific studies that can surely illuminate the poor human spirit?!
While I don’t believe it is possible to explain the reason why it feels so right when we follow our intuition I am sure it is connected to our inner needs at every moment. Certainly our intuition helps us to fulfil our needs and therefore to attain our well-being and ultimately guides us towards happiness, happy moments and discoveries. In this sense intuition is really something useful and essential. But why do we lose it then? And how to nurture it? And whenever lost how to get it back?
In a society where reasoning and logic are of utmost importance it is not surprising that the use of intuition is suppressed and not at all encouraged by parents or any other socialisation source. Parents themselves might not know how to listen to their intuition and this way it is impossible to teach their children how to do it. Listening is in itself a difficult achievement in contemporary society as people are too occupied and busy to be capable of silence and listening. Listen outside voices and especially inner voices that talk to us alerting to our needs and feelings. In this sense to nurture intuition is to nurture a world where emotions and needs are allowed, understood and voiced. Encouraging self-awareness is also a very important aspect of education towards intuition.
In order to trust intuition it is important to practice it and for this reason parents (and/or other reference figures) should encourage children to locate the place of their intuition, listen to it when it talks and follow it. Following intuition enables children/people to see with the own eyes that it actually has a positive result and creates the ground to use it again in the future. Intuition’s place in the human body is the region between the belly and the stomach. It is hard to say exactly where it is located, yet whenever people start to pay attention to intuition they will undoubtedly find its place easily. The voice of intuition sounds there with an indefinite physical feeling that means ‘it feels right’.
Another possible way to learn about intuition is through storytelling. Some years ago I read a book that very much helped me to reconnect with my intuition. The book of Clarissa Pinkola Estés called ‘Women who run with the wolves’ was not received so well by some feminist critiques, yet it has a very important point on the role of storytelling in child rearing. One of the aspects discussed in the book is the intuition and the author provides many examples of stories which deal with this subject and that can be read to/by children.
Finally, my own experience taught me that to be able to listen to this inner voice that I here call intuition (and most people know as gut feeling) it is important to open up. It is hard to explain this idea, but maybe it helps imagining our intuition as a physical place that can be obstructed. Fears, confusion, overthinking, shoulds and musts, all of them hinder intuition. So to open up means to clear oneself up from all of them creating room to intuition inner voice to surface and find their place.
I have often taken important decisions in my life based in my intuition and it always felt so right and it always led me to the ‘place’ where I should be. I learnt to trust it and this inner trust is very empowering as it reinforces self-esteem and self-worth. Simply because following intuition makes is possible to rely on one-self, avoiding the thousands other external voices that might have a point, but most often they don’t have THE point.