9 Ways to Build Intuition and Make Smarter Decisions

By Sarah Winfrey on 7 November 2014 0 comments

Intuition is essential: Those gut feelings turn out to be very helpful, even to the point of saving lives

Intuition helps us understand why people do what they do, and it can smooth the path of relationships by helping us know what those close to us need or why they are acting in a particular way.

Some even say that using intuition enhances our ability to invest money well and to change investments when we need to

Others say that choices made using intuition — even big choices, like which car to buy or even whom to marry — end up better than choices made based on research, pondering and logic

All of this is well and good if you feel connected to your intuition and like it is something you can listen to, understand, and use in daily life. But what about the rest of us? How are people who don't feel that connection to their intuition supposed to figure out how to use it and reap these benefits, too? (See also: 10 Ways to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills)

As it turns out, you can learn to get in touch with your intuition. Here are some tips to get started.

1. Make Time and Space

The very first thing you can do to get in touch with your intuition is to make a place for it to speak into your life. Often, we don't listen to our intuition because we simply don't hear it speaking. In our busy, noisy lives, the quiet voice of intuition often gets lost.

It makes sense, then, that if you want to recover your ability to hear that voice, you need to make space within yourself and your life into which it can speak. Be quiet, and find a quiet place. Let your mind roam, creating space within yourself for that still, small voice to speak

2. Spend Time in Nature

It might sound cliche, but being outside is great for your intuition. Most people find that spending time in nature helps them remain calm and centered, even after they return to their normal life. It makes sense, then, that it would be easier to hear your intuition when you are outside than at other times.

If you want to be more intentional with your time, take a question with you into nature. Ponder your question, then let it go. Do whatever you're going to do outside, asking yourself now and then how you feel about your question and whether you are leaning toward a particular answer. You might even ask whether nature itself has something to teach you about the answers you seek.

3. Get Some Sleep

Intuition often offers answers or insights just as you are falling to sleep, or just when you're waking up. Thus, getting regular rest can help put you in closer touch to your intuition, because you're giving it more and predictable times to work.

It will help to keep a journal next to your bed. That way, you can jot down your insights when you have them, so you don't lose them overnight or as you move into a busy day.

4. Begin Where You're An Expert

People often make better intuitive decisions when they are making them in an area where they have some level of expertise. Because intuition is often an unconscious processing of ideas and facts, the more background knowledge you have, the better your intuitive choices will be.

Start paying attention to your intuitions when you're doing something you know a lot about, have a lot of experience with, or have done many times before. Look for any sudden urges to do things differently, or for intuitive confirmation that you are on the right track even when you aren't at all sure. When you know what your intuition sounds like in these areas, you will have a better idea of what it sounds like in other places, too.

5. Pay Attention to Your Body

Signs that your intuition is positive about something can include having goose bumps, feeling relaxed, or feeling physically or emotionally drawn toward a person, choice, place, etc. Negative signs include increased tension in your back, feeling like you have a lump in your throat, or getting chills.

6. Focus on Your Gut

When you focus on your gut, you're actually paying attention to how your stomach and intestines feel when you are making a decision, pondering choices, or just walking down the street. If you feel tense, ill, or get sudden cramps or heartburn, your intuition may be trying to warn you away from something.

The gut is important because it may actually tie into your brain. It contains a network of neurons called the enteric nervous system, which seems designed, at least in part, to help us better know our feelings, stress levels, and more.

7. Notice Dreams and Coincidences

Intuition often speaks through our dreams or through coincidences — also called synchronous events, or synchronicity. It can help to keep a journal or a notebook with you at all times, so you can record these things as they happen or, in the case of dreams, as soon as you wake up.

Interpreting these sorts of things can feel nebulous and, sometimes, may seem impossible. Start with things that feel obvious to you. Maybe you were considering starting a new business and someone sent you an email encouraging you to follow your dream, without even knowing what you were pondering. Over time, you will feel more and more confident in interpreting dreams and events as signals from your intuition.

8. Visualize Your Options

When you know how your particular brand of intuition works, try visualizing each option or choice that might lie in front of you, paying attention while you do so to the cues that you know to be intuitively based. This can clue you in to how your intuition feels about the choices you could make.

Before you do this, make sure you have an extensive list of options, doing your best to have all of the choices in front of you. Then spend some time visualizing each one as reality — take in sights, smells, tastes, etc. The more detailed your visualization, the better chance you have of getting some intuitive cues.

9. Release Negative Feelings

Negative feelings can cloud our intuition, and positive ones can enhance it. If you are feeling down, discouraged, depressed, or anything else negative, take the time to work through those feelings before you try to listen to your intuition.

This also means you shouldn't try to repress or suppress your negative feelings. Instead of either dwelling on them or pushing them down, try accepting them for what they are, without making any judgements about them. Then open your hands to release them, if only so that you can use your intuition to make good choices about how to move on from where you are.

Bonus

If you're serious about developing your intuition, these exercises from the University of Minnesota are great for people who have begun to do the things listed in this article but want to pursue their intuition even more.

Some of them will require a significant investment of time or energy, so be sure you're ready before you dive in.

Where do you use your intuition? How does it speak to you?

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