Learning to listen to your gut is all about intuition. It’s about understanding the feeling that’s telling you what’s right or wrong for you. It’s the innate inner voice that lives inside you, deep down, and tries to guide you. And it’s one you often ignore in times of need.
Because of its subtlety, it’s easy to miss. However, learning to listen to your gut instinct is life changing. Your subconscious mind is communicating with your conscious mind at all times, which is why learning how it works and how to sharpen it results in better and more confident decision making.
This blog is going to take a deep dive into what intuition is, why it’s beneficial, and how to sharpen it.
The science of intuition
Intuition is a gut feeling characterised by successful decision making without deliberate analytical thought. In short, your subconscious is able to decide on a course of action that’s both confident and beneficial. History is littered with thought leaders such as Nikola Tesla, Winfrey Oprah, and Albert Einstein, who each claimed their intuition was the reason for their success.
One study undertaken by the University of South Wales demonstrated both the existence and benefit of intuition. Through the use of four different experiments, each designed to mimic unconscious thought, the participants made faster and more accurate decisions. In doing so, they also proved how we’re able to strengthen our intuition and gut instincts over time and with practice.
You can read the full study here.
How to improve your intuition
So, now that you know intuition exists, you might be asking yourself, ‘how do I listen to my gut?’ or ‘how can I improve my intuition?’
Well, let’s take a look at 4-ways to hone these instincts.
Pay attention to your body
Simple, right? Well, not quite. In order to hear your internal cues, you need to slow down and pay attention to your body. This requires a modicum of self-awareness. Notice how you feel when you’re doing something you love vs. how you feel when you’re doing something that makes you uncomfortable. The sensations are different because your body is firing off internal cues that are saying, ‘this feels right’ or ‘this feels wrong.’
Trust your initial response
These ‘gut instincts’ are scientific. They’re triggered by a complex set of neurons that line our ‘second brain,’ aka our stomachs. It’s called the enteric nervous system (ENS), and it’s the reason we feel sick when something bad happens and why our stomachs flutter when we’re excited. By trusting your initial response to a decision you’re about to make, you’re more likely to decide on a course of action that benefits you.
Clear your mind
Intuition is there to guide you; however, anxiety and negative thoughts cloud your judgement and stop you making the right choices. By taking some time to clear you mind and go in with a positive attitude, you are more likely to make a better decision.
The same goes for the company you keep. If you’re surrounded by people who drain your energy instead of enriching or empowering you, your intuition will suffer. Try to take some deep breaths, practise some yoga, or go on a walk before you make a decision. When it comes to the company you keep, consider the relationship dynamic and ask yourself what you’re getting out of it.
Train your brain
Like most things, intuition can be strengthened the more you work on it. Honing this innate gut feeling requires a shift in mindset. By taking the time to connect with other people and learn more (consciously and subconsciously) about tone, body language, gestures, and motives, the greater your intuition will become. View it as a way to ‘fine tune’ your gut, helping it better curate empathy and accurately predict outcomes.
Harnessing the power of your intuition and reaping its copious benefits is empowering. However, that doesn’t mean just blindly following your gut feelings without care or consequence. Instead, use your intuition as a guiding hand that forms the basis of your rational decision-making skills. Taking the time to think through your course of action using both your common sense and subconscious instinct will help ensure an outcome that’s best for you.
 Lufityanto, G., Donkin, C., & Pearson, J. (2016). Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence. Psychological Science. doi: 10.1177/0956797616629403 https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/intuition-its-more-than-a-feeling.html