In a world where facts have become suspect, chaos reigns and we’re faced with too many choices, how can we make good decisions? One of the best ways may be to stop thinking so much.
I’ve found that over the past couple of years, I’ve been relying on my intuition more than usual. With so much conflicting information hitting me daily, I didn’t feel that I could accurately rely on my mental capacities to make the best decisions. Many times, I couldn’t even determine who was telling the truth and who was spewing nonsense, making it very hard to discern what was in my best interest as well as the impact my decisions could have on other people. Intuition helped me make a lot of tough decisions and I continue to rely on it regularly now.
Intuition can be a somewhat confusing concept and like a lot of what we encounter these days, there is no one solid definition, but I think of it as direct access to unconscious knowledge, or an inner sensing or insight to unconscious pattern-recognition. It’s really the ability to understand something instinctively, without any need to cognitively think about it.
We all have intuition, but perhaps you’ve never consciously relied on it. Some intuition examples or intuitive experiences could include a strange “knowing” that something is about to happen. Perhaps you’ve experienced a feeling out of the blue that won’t go away and is later explained by something that actually occurs. It can show up as feeling very strong emotions toward someone or something and later understanding that those feelings were correct, and why. It might even be a dream that you later realize matches something that happens in reality. Most of us have had at least one of these experiences, but may have written it off. We tend to ignore what our system is trying to tell us.
Have you ever had a difficult decision to make, and you really didn’t know what to do? If you’re like me, you might create a pros and cons list. Any choice you make comes with consequences and questions, but you know you have to make one. In these moments, the key is to recognize what we really want or need. That’s where mindfulness, in the form of self-awareness, comes in. We can call intuition our inner guidance, instinct, a sixth sense, a hunch or a gut feeling, but it requires our full attention, as many factors can interfere with our ability to tune in to the real message, like our ego, other people’s opinions, and just general distractions. Interference can cause us to act on impulse, spiral emotionally or people-please rather than rely on our true intuition. We might make the wrong choice.
I just had to rely on intuition to make a big decision related to this podcast. Industry-wide right now, small to medium podcasts are at risk of disappearing as the giants like big media and news corporations take over. There were basically only two options. Stick it out on my own as long as possible or join a network. When you’re under pressure to make a decision but are not sure what is right, it can be paralyzing. It’s hard to move forward when you feel like that. A pros and cons list didn’t work in this case because it’s all unknown. Without psychic powers, no one seems to know where this industry will land, so I had to use my intuition and I’m pleased to announce that we’re now part of the Airwave Media Network. Full disclaimer, that may mean ads of some sort are returning, but I feel good about this move and have been assured that they understand we can’t have disruptive ads due to the nature of our content, so I’m going to trust my intuition.
Trust is the other key component of intuition. It’s one thing to have a feeling about what to do. It’s quite another to trust that feeling. Have you ever had the hairs stand up on the back of your neck or a sudden tingly feeling as you turn a corner and face a dark alley? That’s your intuition telling you something’s not safe. Do you “listen?” Most people have experienced the most common intuitive response, a gut reaction to something, which is another physical manifestation of an intuited reaction. You receive an envelope from the IRS in the mail. Gut-punch before you’ve even opened it, right? This is also a good example of what could get in the way. Fear can override our true intuition. Not every letter from the IRS is scary. Sometimes they’re telling you that they owe you money.
There are several other factors that get in the way of intuition, including overthinking, beliefs, bias, ego, approval-seeking, and even trauma. To get through these barriers, we have to be self-aware, but with our own minds frequently getting in the way, it can feel difficult to tap into our intuition and even more difficult to trust our own feelings. That’s what kept happening with me over the past two years. There was nonstop information about masks, vaccines, what was safe, what was not. And a week later, there was the opposite information in abundance. When we’re bombarded with mixed information on top of a lot of uncertainty, we can’t easily tune in to our intuition. Fortunately, mindfulness can really strengthen our intuitive muscles.
If you think of your mind, body and soul as a system, and then consider that we typically only rely on our minds to make decisions, you begin to see that we’re not regularly using our body and soul in making decisions. But we hold all of the information and knowledge we’ve gained through our life experiences in all three, with much of it residing in the unconscious realm. There have been many studies conducted that show that our “system” knows what is best for us, if we only ask it.
This is where meditation and body scans are invaluable. When we meditate, we are opening up and integrating mind, body and soul. We become attuned to our emotions as well as our thoughts. When we do a body scan, we are creating an intimate relationship with our bodies, noticing every nuance, every slight variation, every physical reaction. Regularly practicing meditation and body scans increases our awareness of intuition.
Sometimes, even with those practices however, there’s just too much distraction in the moment to be still enough to hear or feel an intuitive answer. Fortunately, there’s another process we can turn to which I will admit is a little strange, but it works amazingly well. It’s called muscle testing. The premise of this method is that if something is in alignment with our system, our muscles stay strong, but if it is out of alignment, our muscles go weak. Muscle testing allows us to tap into our intuition without our own minds interfering.
There are many ways to use muscle testing with the most common being a two-person process, where one person tests the other. But I’m usually alone, so I needed a reliable way to test and found that a kettle weight worked perfectly. You can look online for all kinds of ideas but the goal is to find something that at shoulder height with your arm fully extended is a little bit hard to lift. For me, a 10 lb. kettle weight works beautifully. I can lift it, but there is measurable resistance when lifting it. All you have to do is state the concept you want to test and lift the weight. I use affirmative statements and the result is that I either test weak or strong. If you test weak, you’re unable to lift the weight. If you test strong, the weight lifts easily.
If I state that my name is Teresa McKee, I can easily lift the weight. If I say that my name is Michelangelo, I can’t lift the weight. It’s not magic or some woo-woo tactic. It’s tapping into our intuition, our entire being which is so much wiser than we understand. And the reason I love muscle testing is that it overrides ego, cognitive analysis, and skepticism. It’s just our system giving us feedback without any interference from our ego, mind or even the flight/fight response.
I use muscle testing any time I struggle with making a decision, whether big or small, and especially when I don’t feel I have enough information to rely on my brain. For example, I use it to determine if I need certain supplements. I simply state that magnesium will benefit my health. I tested weak on that one, which means that I couldn’t raise the weight, meaning that my system is telling me I don’t need magnesium. I stated that a covid booster shot would benefit my health, which tested weak for over a year, testing every other week, until just this month. Then I tested strong. That’s telling me that my initial vaccination must be waning and now a booster would help me. I went and got a booster. I stated that joining our new network would benefit the podcast and tested strong. Hello network.
Muscle testing also helped build trust in my own intuition. Sometimes, I really want the answer to go in a certain direction and I used to think that through the power of my mind, the weight would do what I wanted. But it doesn’t. It feels like a hundred pound weight instead of 10 because my muscles go weak. It’s a great physical confirmation of what my intuition knows at an unconscious level.
It does take some practice. Through sheer physical force, anyone can lift a 10 pound weight, but if you approach it openly and tune in to your body, you feel the increased resistance when testing weak. The more you do it, the more stark the difference between testing weak and strong. As trust in my intuition has grown over the years, most of the time I can simply sit quietly, consider the choice I’m facing, pay attention to what’s happening in my body, and make a fairly immediate decision. But when my monkey brain is in full swing, I turn to muscle testing, just to be sure.
There are two types of thinking, analytical reasoning and intuitive thinking and most people use a combination of both as they are complementary, so you’re probably using your intuition every day, even though you may not be aware of it. There are ways to increase awareness and strengthen intuition, including introspection. Checking in with ourselves to see how we are feeling emotionally or what we are feeling in the body strengthens our ability to know exactly how we’re feeling all of the time and trusting those feelings. That leads to intuitive feelings coming forward to show us what to do.
Regularly recharging and unplugging is another way to strengthen intuition. Solitude allows us to separate ourselves from what others think we should do. When facing a difficult decision, take a long walk in nature and focus only the walk. Odds are, the answer will come to you with little to no effort. Silence and stillness give our intuition breathing room and helps us hear our own inner voice.
Seeking new experiences and learning new things sharpen our skills, but also develops our self-awareness and awareness of the world, so we can become more intuitive through self-discovery and exploration.
And of course, practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment, we tune in with ourselves. We pause before responding or making a choice, allowing space for intuition to enter. Mindfulness helps us make decisions rather than choosing something rashly.
Insights sometimes come through meditation. Do a body scan and really feel your entire body. The body senses what the conscious mind does not. Ask yourself how you are feeling about something and note the sensations that come up. A clenched gut is like testing weak, it’s telling you it’s not right for you. If your body responds well when considering your decision, then you know you have the right answer.
Getting out of our own heads can actually lead to more intuitive thinking. The benefits are that we find ourselves, make better decisions, take more chances, and take action where others may not. Intuition leads to insight. It’s a superpower we all have, so why not use it?