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  • Writer's pictureSandhya Gokal

Follow your intution

follow your heart, your intuition,it will lead you in the right direction - Jewel


I recently went on holiday to Airlie beach. White sands, crystal water, beautiful atmosphere.


But I made a grave mistake


On holidays, you are supposed to relax. Especially ones like this where we planned nothing but beach, spa, lagoon, beach.


But somewhere along the way I decided to set myself goals on this trip. I was going to do laps in the pool and use the time away from social obligations to get more fit, something I have been striving towards since the beginning of the year


So I swam laps. The first day I did 8. Admirable, but I wanted to push myself


The next day I did 18


That's a big jump. My muscles protested but I persevered.


The next day?


I got sick. Horribly sick. On my dream-like holiday.


Sometimes it's very tempting to use time away to hit goals when we are away from the hustle and bustle, away from the social pressures and away from our familiar environment.


But this scenario is a good example of what happens when you don't use holiday time to prioritise rest.


My body, usually already pushed to its limits in day to day life, refused to cooperate with my plan.


So I was forced to rest, in possibly the most unrestful conditions. I experienced FOMO to the max because I didn't put my self-care first.


I've been re-learning the art of listening to my body and mind, and this is a classic example of how running roughshod when everything is telling you to slow down can backfire louder than a firework.



What is intuition:





Intuition is a fast, associative experience based cognitive process that gives off strong green light signals towards a particular action.


Intuition can be a powerful tool. In this case, ignoring my intuition cut short my enjoyment.


Intuition is the process by which you heed the advice of your inner voice. In the words of the great Christina Aguilera, it is essential to "learn to begin, to trust the voice within"


Listening to intuition is a subtle art. It involves stopping, paying attention to the tiny voice In your head that tells you to do something. As a pharmacist, I use my intuition when it comes to stock ordering, and almost always, order something on the exact day my patient needs it.


Sometimes it manifests as a feeling. The power of three by Dianna Wynne Jones describes this perfectly as "the power of the sight unseen". Have you ever had the feeling that you should go a different way even though the GPS and your habits tell you to stay the course? That is intuition.


Using intuition for self-care and taking rest is a power move. Imagine you have 20 energy coins to spend. Once you exhaust those energy coins, it is time for you to rest and regenerate. Some people have the capacity to hold more energy coins than others. As we get older,the rate of coin depletion tends to accelerate, or perhaps we get more wise with how we spend our coins.


Either way, honing our intuition, like any other habit, takes time and conscious effort.


Intuition vs anxiety - the unseen battle within



Two figures stand, facing each other. Each holds a sword. One, wreathed in ethereal mists, golden robes and serenity. The other, surrounded with the angry red fires of Hades, a stygian sword that threatens to cleave the soul of all it touches and the air of agitation.


The battle begins, but who will win?


A study by Remmers and Zander et al. showed that anxiety impairs intuitive decision making because intuition is an adaptive process, and people experiencing anxiety are unable to engage properly in adaptive behaviours.


I've always disliked the term “trust your gut.” as a pharmacist, trusting my gut means knowing whether I need to eat more vegetables, take an iron supplement or increase my fibre intake.


In many ways, this term is a generalisation and only works for those who are intimately self-aware and know which thoughts are intuition and how to distinguish this from anxiety.


Let's go into the differences between anxiety and intuition.


Intuition: based in the present

Anxiety: based in the future


Intuition: generally quiet (unless you don't listen)

Anxiety: blusters about loudly until it is all you can hear


Intuition: comes from a place of self-trust

Anxiety: comes from a place of fear and uncertainty


Intuition: functions best in a calm, mindful state. Intuition works best in an expansive state so it can analyse situations at lightning speed to enhance decision making without the person being consciously aware of logical reasoning behind the decision.


Anxiety: thrives in negative mind spaces. Anxiety causes a narrow field of view because the mind has perceived a threat. So the mind narrows its field of vision to focus on preserving safety.


Intuition: leads to action

Anxiety: leads to inaction, especially when accompanied by overthinking.


So you can see, intuition and anxiety can both be seen as “gut instinct.” However, intuition operates very differently to anxiety, and learning to distinguish between the two can be difficult. Sometimes, in the case of severe anxiety, professional help might be required in the form of a therapist.


Once you’ve mastered the art of listening to your intuition, you’re on the fast-track to becoming superpowered.


Intuition and procrastination



Following your intuition, especially in the initial stages when you are just beginning to heed the voice, can be scary. Intuition is often not obviously logical. It is a speedy cognitive process, remember. That means it is done with no conscious effort.


Imagine it like this. Using rational thought and logic to make decisions is like using a hand whisk to whip cream. It’s slow and it takes effort. Using intuition is like using a Kitchen aid. It’s quick, and you get perfectly whipped cream if you pay attention. But you don’t use any effort.


The first few times, giving up the control of feeling the whisk as it moves through the cream and physically feeling the change in viscosity is nerve-racking. You always question if you should go that one minute extra.


Once you’ve whipped cream 10 times, that uncertainty fades away naturally. You start being able to leave the kitchen aid to do its thing, and instinctively know when to come back.


Similarly, using intuition the first few times can cause apprehension. Because of this, intuition can be a precursor to procrastination. When that happens, you might notice that when faced with an overwhelming task, you turn to something else to relieve those feelings of overwhelm.


Procrastination expert, Jami Gibson, notes that intuition is like the first clue in a treasure hunt to find the hidden reasons you procrastinate. She states that following the intuition train of thought can reveal tantalising glimpses into the deeper emotional and psychological factors that hold us back.


In these cases, your intuition might be telling you to break down the tasks, because you are triggering your internal filters.


Side Quest: Notice the size of task that you feel most comfortable with, and take some time to evaluate what you classify as too large that it leads to overwhelm, and too small that it leads to boredom.


How to hone your intuition zone


It takes time for intuition to rear its shy head and speak out, especially if it has been suppressed for a while, by anxiety, or lack of confidence. Below, I've listed a few ways to give your intuition the chance to shine, and allow yourself to be guided into flow states of action.


Some ways you can begin to do this are:


Meditation



Meditation is the time you set aside for your mind to experience silence. Being silent is a great way to allow your intuition to rise to the surface and have a say


Journaling with a side of introspection



Using an introspection template to journal can be both cathartic and eye-opening as you begin to notice patterns within your actions of day to day life. This is a cheat code to fast tracking habit change


Action



Action taker bonuses in real life happen when you take action on a decision you know will benefit you in some way,


eg. If you are tossing and turning in bed, and you notice your inner voice companion urging you to get up and out of bed for 15 minutes and stretch, or take a shower, or even just read silently, listening to that is a great way to let your intuition become louder.


Like a child who is constantly interrupted, giving your intuition space to speak to you can be slow going at first. You might notice that it takes some time for intuition to shine through, but perseverance will prevail! (This doesn't work always, especially for chronic insomnia or people with high anxiety levels, but it can help)


Congratulations! You've reached the end!


So there you have it - the importance of following your intuition and taking care of your inner child!


What other tips DO YOU have for following your intuition and giving it permission to shine?




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