When It Comes to Thinking About Your Intuition: Don’t

Learning to listen to your intuition is tricky business. Not to fear! Gem contributor Natalie Spanner breaks down how to realistically tune in to your gut.

Intuition. I used to really hate intuition.

Everyone can agree that intuition is a subconscious sense of knowing. Knowing where to go, what to do, who that person is, or what will happen next. I used to think some people were blessed with more intuition than others. I used to think I had a gimpy one.

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How completely unhelpful…

Then I began living and studying yoga more intently and a certain amount of fog lifted, but most of it just changed colors. I could still hate intuition, but it’s kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. Hopefully, if you follow me down the rabbit hole here, you’ll join me at the end in a healthier perspective on the whole intuition-thing.

As a yoga teacher, we reference chakras a lot. These spinning wheels of spiritual energy located in our bodies which correspond to physical nerve clusters and major organ centers, and they speak to emotional centers of development.

The yogic chakra theory (if you’ve got no clue what this is, check out Chakras for Entrepreneurs 101 with Victoria Klein) tells us intuition originates from our third-eye chakra, up in the middle of our forehead. If we were to cross-reference this with the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs… and reexamine some eastern philosophies behind this, apparently it’s meant to build.

So, our root chakra deals with security, once we’re secure – click.

Move on to the sacral chakra, once we deal with the emotional turmoil of our hips and sexuality – shcnlip.

Next comes our solar plexus, our ego and sense of individuality; cool, whining is easy enough – snap.

Now that we’re cool with ourselves, our heart chakra unravels to connect us with everyone else, our compassion is unlocked and – bam.

We’re basically happy. But not yet wise. It churns in our throat, we have something to say, we don’t know what, we study writing and make drafts of our communication style, until – chorus of angel choirs. We can speak, we have a voice, and the rest of our personality is effortless.

By the time we get to our third-eye chakra up between our eyebrows, we can see what’s coming. We get a sense about these things. We know ourselves so well that intuition is like a train barreling down the track, or we’re so sensitive to the world around us we can tell what’s good for us just by the subtle change in wind-direction.

Oh, I wish intuition worked like that.

We are instead taught to challenge our intuition at every turn. In the West, we prefer science. We prefer logic, reason, the process. Analytical problem-solving thinkers do better in our economy and in our classrooms. Maybe because it’s easy to prove.

How do you prove your intuition is right? How do you convince yourself that your intuition is worth listening to? How do you explain to your friends why you quit your job, confessed your love, started the business, or moved to Colorado — especially when all of the facts didn’t support this decision?

We’ve become so good at questioning ourselves. This can be extremely helpful sometimes, but more often than not – we stifle the answer in the process.

I’ve been working. So. Hard. At figuring out my intuition.

What I really want.

What I’m meant to do.

I’ve been building up my person, one chakra at a time. I’ve seen therapists, I’ve graduated college, I’ve built healthy relationships, I’ve quit jobs, I’ve taken on surprising ones, I’ve explored every passionate whim, as well as buckled down into uncertainty with my grit and a pencil stuck into my annoyingly imperfect bun.

You know, I’ve been working hard on how to even write this damned piece on intuition? With my Theatre Performance major background, I’ve drawn connections between the old Italian theatrical form of commedia dell’arte and the chakras: exploring what it means to lead from your hips as a villain or a strong-willed person; deciphered that perhaps I’m a romantic and lead from my heart, making decisions based on emotional capacity; and compared this with dedicated servant types who lead with their head. I’ve considered writing about my dating life and true love and the virtue of going for it anyway even though you don’t know what the hell you’re doing because…it’s fun… I’ve even drafted a piece on Avatar-style benders: water, earth, fire, air, and broken down people into corresponding Hogwarts houses and tried to explain to myself that everyone has something different at stake and maybe that’s why their intuition speaks with a hammer or with a chisel…

Stop. Stop. STOP, Natalie.


Intuition is tricky.

I don’t care how many traumatic events you’ve witnessed or avoided, or if you come from a long line of seers… everyone struggles with their intuition. I don’t know how to speak to your specific intuition. I barely know how to speak about my own.

But, I can tell you that I have a PTSD history and I ignored my bodily signals of panic and fear for years – or rather shut it all down for a decent chunk of it – and when it all came to the surface, I endured suffocating self-doubt, frustrating anxiety, sneaky depression, and lost a lot of friends in the process.

Fun fact: ignoring all of those bodily signals? Literally fried my nerves. I know there’s a genetic component to my fibromyalgia, but I also know now that I’m really good at making myself sick when I don’t listen to my gut. I legit get diarrhea when I’m a nervous wreck. Nausea, included. I can’t eat past for four or five hours before I go on stage at night.

So, I can tell you that when all else fails, your body will know what to do. Studying yoga has helped me learn how to listen to my body, but I still get it plenty wrong sometimes. My last line of defense is my digestive system. My advice to you is figure out your limits. Your strengths. Do you have an uncanny sense of direction? A photographic memory? Are you really good at predicting whether or not the Bengals will win – EVEN THOUGH you’re a Steelers fan? Follow your nose. Follow your senses. Follow your cravings. Really, just follow your curiosity.

Because you’re going to get it wrong. You’re going to take months to write a single post on intuition.  You’re going to misread his signals. She’s going to lie to you – and you’re never gonna see it coming. Your intuition is never wrong, I promise. Maybe all you need is a little practice. When it comes to regarding your present relationship with intuition, trust me, don’t think. Just do.

You think you have a shitty intuition. You consistently find yourself in less than savory situations. Burning out. Running late. Wrong place, wrong time, why did I SAY THAT OUT LOUD type of moments. Sister, have I BEEN there. My conclusion? Maybe it’s not your fault; you’re just out of practice.

Here are The Seven Magical Solutions to Your Shitty Intuition you’ll learn to conquer when you down the guide that goes with this post:

1) Take the ego out of it.

2) Fall in love with yourself.

3) Get to know your intuition by name.

4) Shut up and Listen.

5) Keep slightly intimidating, opinionated friends who love you. Keep them close.

6) Make promises you can keep on your worst day.

7) Make mistakes.

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Photo By: Heidi Sandstrom (Unsplash)