Our intuition, can be used to make the biggest decisions of our lives, and even daily decisions like what to eat, what to wear, how to exercise, and so on. This internal guidance system can be a great tool, if we learn how to listen to it and trust it. Knowing how to use your intuition to help you make decisions can help you to have more clarity, and also to feel more confident moving forward. Below is an exercise that I use to help me tap into my internal guidance system, and some tips to give you even more clarity about the path ahead of you.
First, a quick note on what our intuition is.
(For a more in-depth description of our intuition, read “What Is Intuition and How Can it Benefit Us”)
Our intuition is basically our internal guidance system. It’s that still small voice inside that helps us to know when something is right for us. It has also been called a gut feeling, a nudge, spirit, listening to our heart, our higher self, or simply, our guide.
When you’re trying to make a decision, or you’re doing something, and you just get this strong, sometimes overwhelming, feeling that you should or shouldn’t do something, but you really can’t explain why….that’s your intuition talking. It generally doesn’t speak very loudly, so most people don’t pay that much attention to it.
If we can learn to listen to, and trust, our intuition, it can be a very helpful guide in making decisions in life.
To get you started, here’s a little exercise that I like to do when I’m trying to make big decisions:
Step 1 – Look at the decision in front of you, find what you think your choices are.
Let’s say you’ve been offered a new job. So, you have the option to stay in the job you’re currently in and the option to take the new job. (In reality, there could be any number of possibilities and contributing factors, but I’ll keep it simpler here for the sake of explanation.)
Step 2 – Pretend that you’ve already made a choice one way or the other and see how it feels in your body.
From our example above…pretend that you say yes to the new job. Imagine putting in your notice with your old job, your last day there, your first day at your new job, your first week, your new schedule, how that schedule may change what you do outside of work, etc. Try to imagine, in as much detail as you can, what it will be like to actually make that decision.
Then start to pay attention to your body. When you’re imagining having taken the new job, how do you feel? Does your body tense up, or relax? Do your jaws clench? Do you physically hunch over? Do you feel lighter or heavier? Do you feel excited, or more like you’re dreading it?
You can do this for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days if you’d like. Keep going back to imagining yourself in that decision, and then how you’re feeling within your body.
Doing this exercise takes some practice, especially if you aren’t used to actually feeling and paying attention to what your body is telling you. As you practice more, you’ll start to recognize the signs that your body gives you, and what they mean. (Read up on how different people hear and feel their intuition speaking to them here.)
Try your best not to get too caught up in the fear of change or failure or anything like that. Just imagine what it would be like if everything went perfectly. Remember, you’re still just processing at this point.
Step 3 – Take some deep breaths, walk around for a bit, maybe do some Qi Clearing exercises (like Tossing a Stone or Shaking the Tree) or yoga to clear your mind.
Step 4 – Imagine the second option.
Pretend you don’t take that job, that you stay where you are currently working. Again, imagine it in as much detail as possible: calling to tell the people offering the job “thank you, but I’m not interested at this time”, going to your current job everyday and doing what you do now, keeping your same schedule, and so on.
Pay close attention to how your body feels.
Step 5 – Repeat steps 1-3 for the other options that are available to you.
Be sure to give yourself a break in between imagining the possibilities for each option. This is especially true if you’re new to doing this exercise. That way, things don’t start to overlap and get more confusing in your mind. Once you’ve practiced doing this exercise more and more, the time you need in between can be shorter if you want it to.
I’ve been doing this exercise for several years now, so for most decisions that I use it for, I can do it with only a minute or two in between. When I first started doing it, I would give myself at least 30 minutes to an hour in between.
This exercise is extremely helpful when you’re making decisions, but you have to be careful not to let other “voices” get in the way of how you’re feeling about the situation.
Weed out what you want from what everyone else wants.
Weed out what you think you SHOULD do because it’s working for someone else.
Weed out what you’re telling yourself that you aren’t capable of doing; what you think you aren’t worthy of having; what you think you aren’t ready for.
You can listen to advice from others, or look around at what is working for others, but don’t base exactly what you do on them. Do what you want to do, how you want to do it. Just because something is working for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s the right way for you to go about it.
And don’t get caught up in the cycle of putting it off and doubting yourself. You are fully capable of doing whatever it is that your heart desires.
There are a lot of other factors that can come into play when we’re making decisions.
This exercise, and what our intuition is telling us, isn’t the only guide that we should use, but it’s definitely one of them that we should pay close attention to.
In addition to taking the time to pay attention to how my body feels about each possible outcome, the following things help me a great deal when I have decisions to make:
1) Remember that action brings more clarity.
Start taking steps in any direction that you think you’re supposed to go. Sometimes we actually have to take forward steps to start to whittle down what it is we actually want to do. Sitting still and ruminating does no good. Actually, the longer we just sit and fret about which way to go, the farther away from an actual decision we get.
2) Break it down into baby steps instead of trying to figure out the entire plan all at once.
Sometimes the thing that causes us the most anxiety is trying to figure out every single step along the path, and what might happen on each step. Instead, focus solely on the step right in front of you. You can have an idea for which direction you’re headed, but don’t get bogged down by the minute details. You stifle the universe’s ability to give you something even better than you imagined when you do this. Not to mention you drive yourself crazy trying to predict the future.
3) Don’t get attached to any one outcome.
When we get too attached to an outcome, we automatically get stressed when anything begins to veer from our desired course. The farther we get from the course, the more stressed we get. It also limits what we can do because we’ve boxed ourselves into that one outcome. We fail to see any of the other, perhaps better, possibilities of what can happen. We also miss out on the process, and being able to be grateful for what is happening in the moment; for what we’re learning in the moment.
4) Know that you can change your mind at any time.
If you say yes, move forward, and realize you hate it, you can shift your course. You may not be able to go back and get exactly that old job, old house, old relationship, etc., but remember, there is a reason why you left in the first place. Trust the process, trust that the universe is working things out for you, but also know that just because you make a certain decision, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever and ever.
5) Know that you don’t have to have every step figured out.
Again, action brings about clarity. With each step you take forward, another is revealed. And sometimes…that’s the only time it gets revealed. When we’re just standing still, overanalyzing and overthinking, we can’t see the path at all. But as soon as we make a decision, and take a step, the path reveals itself a little more. This can be frustrating for those of us who want to know exactly where we’re headed and exactly what is going to happen. But this rarely happens in life.
6) Pay attention to little synchronicities, but be careful not to see only what you want to see.
Where you are not attached to an outcome, and you’re open to guidance, synchronicities begin to occur to help guide you. Things like seeing a certain number over and over again; seeing something that perfectly aligns with what you’re working towards; having a conversation or seeing a quote that gives you confirmation about which direction you’re heading.
7) Know that if you feel super strongly about doing or not doing something, sometimes it may not make perfect sense.
Sometimes we’re asked to take steps on blind faith.
8) Be sure fear isn’t leading the way, or blocking you.
Do a little soul searching and make sure that you’re not making your decision based more on a fear of change, of failure, or of anything else, rather than based on what you really want for your life.
9) Ask yourself, does my decision to do or not do this fit in with the life that I ultimately want for myself? Is it a means to an end? Or does it take me way off course?
10) Journal it out or do some free writing.
When you’re trying to make a decision, write down what you’re feeling about both sides. More than a pros and cons list, actually write how you feel about each of your options. Write your fears about things, but also write what excites you about the possibilities.
And don’t forget to go back and journal after you’ve made your decision as well. What made you finally decide to go in that direction? Once you made the decision, was anything different than you thought it would be? Doing all of this will help you later, when you have another decision to make. It may also help you pinpoint things that keep tripping you up in the decision-making process that you use, and help you to resolve it. It will also help you to celebrate your small wins and help you see that you are completely capable of making decisions.
(Featured Image by Jaiju Jacob)