Are you an empath or highly sensitive person wondering about how to use your intuition? In this blog, I help you to learn how to understand and listen to your intuition.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

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“Listen to your gut!” is a common phrase you may come across regularly. However, when you are an overthinker like me (and many other HSP’s), this is easier said than done.

Whenever I need to make an important decision, I am not sure whether it is my mind or my intuition kicking in. Consequently, decision making is something I tend to struggle with.

Currently I am trying to find ways to be more aware of my intuition. As my Human Design chart revealed that listening to my intuition helps me to make good decisions, I had to investigate the art of intuition further.

Hence, I decided to write a blog about this topic. I deep dove into the science behind intuition and how to understand and listen to your intuition.

What Is Intuition?

Have you ever had the feeling that you “just know” something without actually knowing? Intuition could be defined as such. According to PsychologyToday, intuition is the process where you are able to know something immediately without directly being able to relate it to conscious reasoning through your mind.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves in new situations where our intuition immediately tells us that something is ‘off’ about a person, job or place. Even though we just entered that situation, we just know.

Can you relate to that? I cannot count the times I told my fiancé that something wasn’t right with a specific situation and that I turned out to be right. How? Thanks to my intuition!

However, you still may think that this sounds too vague. Because how on earth could you know about something without using the mind, right? I thought the same. That’s why I was curious about discovering the science behind intuition. Why is it wise to listen to your intuition? Let’s have a look at what science says.

The Science Behind Intuition: How Intuition Works

For critical people, scientific proof and evidence through measuring is important. As a critical thinker, I do find this important too. So let’s have a look at what studies say about intuition. Because yes, there have been performed studies about this exciting topic!

Researchers developed a method to measure intuition. Through this method, these researchers proved that people are able to use their intuition to make faster, more precise and self-confident decisions. Accordingly, this proves that when you listen to your intuition, it does work.

So we know that it exists, but where in our body is intuition located? What does science say about that? Let’s have a look.

Intuition: A Bodily Reaction Caused By Your Subconscious

Intuition is not something happening out of the blue – like a higher force – telling you what is right and wrong for you. It is based on the many hundreds of thousands of brain patterns you have developed throughout your life.

All your experiences, memories, thoughts and feelings are stored as ‘data’ in your brain. As you grow your ‘database’, your intuition is silently expanding it’s wisdom.

Accordingly, when you need to make a decision, your intuition draws information from that database in an instant to help you make the right move. This is a subconscious process which you most likely are not aware of when it is happening.

As a result, when our subconscious identifies a known pattern in a current situation or decision, it sends out neurochemicals within your brain and gut. Consequently, your body notices these signals and defines the situation as right or as if something feels ‘off’.

It is a brilliant system that works in an instant! And best of all, it is a process which is acting faster than your rational mind. Therefore, when your gut is telling you ‘no’, listen to your intuition before your rational is trying to sabotage the process.

If you’d like to read more about intuition, you may enjoy the book ‘Radical Intuition: A Revolutionary Guide to Using Your Inner Power’.

Do I Listen To My Intuition Or Is It My Anxiety?

As a highly sensitive person, I could not help but wonder about one thing in relation to intuition. How do you distinguish between anxiety and intuition? I feel like my body is telling me ‘no’ many times, while I oftentimes feel that it is anxiety speaking and not my intuition.

Especially since it is scientifically proven that HSP’s do have increased activity in their amygdala, responsible for fight, flight and freeze response, this may be a challenge! How do I know what my intuition is trying to tell me? How can I avoid my fears sabotaging my decision making process?

To answer these questions, it is important to understand the body reactions that fear and intuition cause.

How To Tell If It Is Anxiety

When you are experiencing fear, this happens because your amygdala was triggered and is sending out adrenaline to your body. As a result, you usually experience symptoms such as quick breathing, increase in heart rate, tightened muscles and sweating. It is a very physical reaction that you’ll definitely notice.

Additionally, fear creates chaotic feelings and thoughts within you. It does not feel calm and is not a clear state from which you should take decisions (except when you are in real, life-threatening danger of course). Whenever something scary happens, people tend to scream, run around and flee. Those are fear reactions. Fear stands for chaos.

It’s comparable to when you feel fear in your daily life. When you get asked to do something outside your comfort zone, your amygdala starts registering all the potential dangers outside that comfortable place.

Consequently, it takes over and tries to protect you from the scary, “dangerous” unknown by sending out adrenaline. It tries to convince you to back out as quickly as possible and avoid anything that might not be familiar. Through the above mentioned bodily reactions, it tries to win you over and make the ‘safe’ decision to do whatever feels the most comfortable and safe.

If anxiety is a common struggle for you, this book may be just what you need right now: ‘Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind’.

So What Does Intuition Feel Like?

We know that fear is very chaotic. So what does intuition feel like? When your intuition is kicking in, it is a more subtle and instant reaction. It is non-chaotic and calm, almost like a kind friend advising you silently what to do.

However, here is the catch: intuition does not repeat “no, no, no” over and over again, because the rational mind takes over very quickly. Our gut is telling us no once and as soon as we become aware of its signal, our mind tries to make sense of it.

It is taking over and trying to control the decision by evaluating all potential scenarios. And our mind is also quite egoistic and acting superior, so it will try to overrule your intuition if it thinks that it is the right thing to do.

Therefore, because intuition is more subtle and abrupt, we oftentimes tend to miss its hints. Many of us rather listen to our minds, making pro- and con lists, rather than to listen to our intuition.

Totally normal, in my opinion. After all, intuition felt like a rather vague concept to me too, before I learned more about the science behind it. However, knowing all this definitely made me realize how cocky our minds can be. Time to give our intuition more power!

Do you want to learn more about intuition? Discover the book ‘Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking’.

How To Listen To Your Intuition During Decision Making

Now that you know more about how intuition works and the importance of listening to your intuition, it is time to investigate how to do so. After all, it is a very useful tool when making decisions. However, it is easier said than done, right?

Below, I have listed some ways in which you can train your intuition during decision making.

1. Meditation

A powerful method to increase your connection with intuition is to meditate. Meditation decreases anxiety, depression and other negative feelings & emotions. Hence, you will feel more calm when you start to meditate.

From a state of calm, it is easier to be able to hear your intuition. Remember how our fear always tries to interfere with heavy bodily reactions when we are making decisions? Meditation helps you to quiet anxiety and fear and to tune into your intuition.

Here’s a meditation that may help you to listen more to your intuition:

2. Slow Down When Making A Decision

Oftentimes, our days are filled with to do’s and appointments. Time flies by quickly and at the end of the day we ask ourselves where our minds were the entire day.

When we are living at such a fast, automated pace, it is more challenging to hear our intuition. Therefore, try to slow down when you need to make important decisions.

For example, if you are an entrepreneur who needs to make important business decisions, try to pick a calm day for that instead of making decisions in between appointments and tasks.

You know how our best decisions always come to us in the middle of the night or while we shower? Or during a vacation? That is because we slowed down and have little to no distractions around us. These are the moments where we hear our intuition loud and clearly.

Hence, try to go to a calm space where you can easily connect and listen to your intuition. For example, take a walk in nature or lay down on your couch or bed for a while without any distractions. Decision-making will be much easier when you do so.

3. Asking Questions And Writing Down The Answers

Another powerful method to listen to your intuition, is to ask specific questions and immediately note down the answers. No thinking, just write.

Studies have shown that intuitive insights have to be ‘registered’ consciously somewhere within 37 seconds, or they will most likely never be recurring. Remember how I talked about our mind taking over the show super quickly? That’s why writing down the answer immediately is so crucial.

Therefore, get cozy in a calm space, formulate a clear question and start writing whatever your body tells you. No thinking, remember! Just write whatever comes through. You might be surprised what your intuition is telling you, when reading it afterwards!

For instance, you may want to write down your intuitive thoughts in ‘The Intuition Journal: Nourishing daily rituals to cultivate clarity, inner wisdom and inspired action’.

4. Trust Your Intuition

Finally, it is important to trust your intuition. Now that you know that your intuition is not a vague concept, but an actual bodily response, you can trust it. It is proven by science, so what else do you need to rely on it?

When you trust your intuition, listen to it and act on it, you will notice how life becomes so much easier. By relying on your own wisdom and experience, you can reach your utmost potential and truly thrive in life.

This sums up the basics of the topic intuition for now. However, I am sure that I’ll write more about this in the future as it is so fascinating. I am very curious to hear more from you: How do you utilize your intuition as of now? Are you able to distinguish it from fear? Tell us in the comments!