When to Go with Your Gut – And How to Know When You Should Pause
Over the course of our life we have been taught to use logic above all else to make our decisions. To be able to show reasoning for why something is the right decision is still highly valued. More recently, there has been much conversation about using our innate knowing or our gut feeling but for many of us, this is not a ‘language’ we learned to speak – and if we did, most of us are not very fluent in the gut or intuition. The good news is – it can be learned.
Is there a benefit to using your intuition? If you are dealing with a decision for the near future, according to recent research, your gut can be much faster than reasoning, while still being very accurate. If you are dealing with looking at the future, let’s say 5 to 10 years down the road, it is very difficult to reason this out. Your intuition, on the other hand, can give you a sense of it.
Some people are naturally intuitive, most of us seem to struggle in this area. So how can we go with our gut? As a former math teacher, I was used to reasoning things out. Intuition made no sense to me. Once I decided that I wanted to become familiar with it, I began to learn its ’language.’ Today, I use it on a daily basis – and so can you.
Here are 3 activities that can get you ‘fluent in intuition,’ provided you let go of any beliefs you might have that this isn’t possible, or you can’t do this. Your belief creates your reality. This is entirely true and applies to all areas of life.
Wonder like a child
What do I mean by this? Children are still in touch with their gut. They wonder about most things. Wonder can be expressed in asking open-ended questions. These questions do not have a straight answer, rather they bring up a feeling. You could ask questions like these:
- What would happen if ____?
- What choices do I have here?
- What’s the other possibilities?
- What is right about this?
Often, I let a question like this percolate on the back burner. I know that in a short while I will get the information that I am looking for.
It’s hard for many people to trust their intuition immediately, especially if they’ve never done it before, so start small. Practice with where to go out for dinner or what to wear today. Once you can see the results of trusting your gut on the small stuff, you’ll gain the confidence that you can rely on your instincts for bigger decisions. Continue to practice until the thought of relying on your gut is no longer making you anxious. Anxiety and trusting your intuition don’t go together.
Asking questions is vital if going with one’s gut. It helps to be clear when you are using your intuition and when you are rationalizing by asking: Am I using my head? Am I using my intuition? Usually a yes feels light or expansive and a no feels heavier or more contractive.
When having to make a decision, be it for your business or your personal life, a good question to ask is: If I choose this what will be the effect of it in 5 years? If I do not choose this what will be the effect of it in 5 years? Again, there is a sense that comes up. Use the information about yes and no from above.
There may be times when you wonder whether to go with your intuition or to take it slower and analyze the situation. Again, ask a question. What will give me the information I require? My gut? (Perceive the sense that arises in your body – yes or no) Analyzing the situation? (Again, perceive what arises in your body). As you can see, the trick is to ask a question that you can answer with yes or no and be present with your body to perceive what comes up.
If you feel doubt about your intuition, honor it, and don’t go into judgment of yourself. Go to step #2 and practice with small things and use your rational mind until your confidence in your gut feeling has grown. If anxiety comes up, honor it, and remember not to judge yourself.
It takes courage and sensitivity to trust your gut.
This guest post was authored by Corinna Stoeffl
Corinna Stoeffl was born and raised in Germany and working as a Middle School mathematics and physics teacher, before moving to the US in 1980 with her family. Since then, Corinna has explored different careers, accumulating decades of invaluable experience, including; earning a master’s degree in Counseling, working as a life coach for many years, pursuing photography and writing two books.
As a Being You facilitator and mother of two, Corinna’s career path has equipped her with a unique skill set, incredible sense of self-awareness and wisdom, which she in turn shares with her clients. Corinna’s own journey to self-acceptance led her to help others to find themselves, appreciate their unique qualities, and to use them to their advantage in their life and career. Corinna recently contributed a chapter to the collaborative book Voices of the 21st Century, released this October and is a #1 bestseller. Follow Corinna.