When it comes to intuition, you have probably heard this advice before: Trust your gut. But how you can be sure that your gut is trustworthy? Intuition has been described as a “still, small voice.” What does that voice sound like? How do you recognize it? Can you be sure, when you are tuning into that voice, that you have been able to identify a true signal and not just noise?
Like it or not, we have multiple voices inside our heads. You may think that only insane people “hear voices.” But psychological research has shown that all of us have an inner dialogue unfolding throughout the course of our day. And that dialogue includes the internalized views and positions of those around us: spouses, parents, friends, teachers, coworkers, and the media. There may be different voices reminding us of right and wrong, legal and illegal, safe and unsafe. Some of us may experience the voice of shame or guilt.
But intuition stands out from all the rest. This voice—or set of voices—takes us higher, lifts our spirits, and leads us in the direction of our greatest inspiration and fulfillment. The messages delivered by your intuition do not have to be verbal. They may come in the form of a feeling, dream, or meaningful event. For some people, an encounter with nature—wildlife, celestial events, extreme weather, or birdsongs—may carry special significance.
The built-in guidance system we call intuition can provide important clues pertaining to various aspects of our lives: creativity, relationships, career moves, and other major life decisions. My own intuition guides me in such powerfully compelling ways that whenever I reach a crossroads, I make myself as receptive as possible and wait for clarity to come. It always does.
Yet I have also seen many examples of intuition gone awry. In my research on mothers’ intuition, I found that strong preferences can override intuition. There is a big difference between what your intuition directs you to do and what you want to do. On several occasions, I was guided intuitively to go in a direction that I was reluctant to follow—at least initially.
Besides your desires and preferences, you can also experience different types of interference with your intuitive guidance. It could be random noise or even a form of self-sabotage. What if an imposter were to pass itself off as the voice of intuition? As implausible as that scenario may seem, I have encountered it both in my own experience and in working with others.
There is a simple way to prevent interference of this kind: Just demand that it not happen. In both The Chanter’s Guide (pp. 86-89) and The Way of Play (pp. 136-140), I discuss the three demands that I utter every morning upon awakening. These demands are intended to clear the lines of communication with my intuitive guidance, and I know with certainty that they work. For anyone who is interested in being more intuitive, this is the place to start. If you do not have a clean signal from the source of your intuition, then you should not even think about “trusting your gut” because the guidance you will be receiving will not be reliable. It’s a simple matter of: garbage in, garbage out.
I consider the demands I make each morning to be among the most things I do on a daily basis. As someone whose creativity and life choices depend so much on intuition, I must be able to differentiate the signal from the noise. Intuition can be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal but as with any other tool, it has a learning curve. A tool is only useful in the hands of someone who has at least a modest level of mastery. With respect to intuition, it all starts by establishing clear lines of communication free of any interference.
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