Intuition. Discovery. Discernment.
"My intuition told me to call in to work today," said no one ever. Or have they?
I have. I did it this morning. I have been sick for nearly a week now, and despite all the herbs, soups, liquids, extra sleep and antibiotics, this morning it took a turn for the worse.
An severe ear ache added itself to my litany of symptoms, an ear ache so excruciating that it makes me dizzy when I stand and feels like someone has a sharp letter-opener jammed in my eardrum. I took some ibuprofen and laid back down. It helped for an hour and then it was back with a vengeance.
I was supposed to work a 10 at my part-time today, covering for the company being short a few employees, and as much as my fierce loyalty railed against it, I had to call in. In the past, I would have pressed on and gone in anyway, forcing a boss to send me home after seeing how sick I was. Not this time. If I have learned anything in my years, it is that when I am sick, I should take care of myself until I am well.
I did not give more than a moments thought to the things that used to pop into my head:
How much money will I lose out on?
Will my boss think I am faking it?
I feel guilty for not being there when I know they need me.
I used to make a sick day ten times worse by focusing on those things the whole time. How did I stop? I learned to trust my intuition.
I frequently describe intuition to my clients this way, "You know that very first thought you have in your head -- the one you immediately dismiss because you think it is illogical or will make you sound crazy? That's it."
Now that's a simple explanation for a much more complex thing, but as a pointer on how to start recognizing it so you can listen to it, it seems to get them there. Recognizing your intuition is a completely different thing than calling on it for guidance, listening to it, and then taking right action that aligns with it.
So when my client sheepishly admits to hearing (and ignoring) that still, small voice, the very next suggestion I make is to spend the day playing with it. Yes, playing with your intuition. Test it out. See if you can trust it. See how often it is right, or benefits you. Start with the small things.
For instance, you are driving to work and there are two routes you frequent. A little voice inside your head that feels like a poke to your awareness says, "Take Woodward. I-75 doesn't feel right today." You are miles and miles away from either exit, but you decide to play, and you listen. As you approach the I-75 exit, you seen nothing but brake lights. Glad you chose Woodward, you sail past all the traffic and arrive to work early. As you do, a client calls saying they are going to be late because there is a terrible accident on I-75 causing an enormous back-up, and they are stuck in it. That could have been you.
This was not a life-shattering intuition moment. You could have chosen I-75, sat in traffic and still been on time. Or you could have been late. Either way, you still would have arrived at your destination. You did learn one thing though -- maybe your intuition is right and worth listening to. So you try another test. As each test proves out, trust begins.
If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me, "How do I know it's my intuition and not just me?" I could retire today.
Your intuition is you.
It is the voice of your cosmic self. It is the wisdom of your ancestors. It is the culmination of your experiences and your inexplicable inner knowing. Your intuition is muscle memory. It is a subtle spiritual knee-jerk reaction. It is an expression of your heart -- one that aligns with your strongest drives -- your callings.
Intuition does not occur outside of yourself. I would venture to say that is why so many people have a hard time trusting it -- because humans have a hard time trusting ourselves.
After you begin the journey of listening to and trusting yourself, your intuition, a whole new world opens up to you. As you play with and test your intuition, learning and establishing self-trust, it creates a space for using it to navigate larger, perhaps rougher waters.
This discovery, for me, looks like asking myself questions, and then listening to the response of that small voice. Similar to muscle memory, your intuition, like your body, answers you honestly, and from a deep place of knowing itself. Because it knows such core truths, they can sometimes be things that are hard to hear. Here's an example:
How many of us have a friend who we think has a cheating spouse or partner? Do we really think they don't know? Their warning flags are up, their intuition is working. That "still, small voice" has been parading around in their head shouting for months now. It isn't that it's not there. It's that as humans, we use denial, avoidance, and distraction as forms of self-protection. If that person could feel safe enough to trust themselves fully, they would not only be able to admit that they know what is going on, but also have the strength to take action for their own well-being, like having a conversation, or leaving.
We trust our own deceptions more than our truths.
Think about that.
It's easier to believe you aren't good enough, sexy enough, loving enough to deserve a faithful partner, because then it puts the responsibility on you, and that makes it seem more manageable. At least we can make someone feel guilty about it, unfortunately it is the innocent party. We do know, however, that we cannot change that for which we are not responsible, so we consistently choose to live the lie. It keeps the situation unpleasant, stagnant and dishonest -- trapped -- but familiar. We think we are protecting ourselves from pain, but it is just a different type of pain. Instead of letting what the other person does hurt us, we hurt ourselves.
Ask yourself, "If I wasn't so busy denying, avoiding and distracting myself from all the things I think I need protection from, what would I discover? What new doors would open to me? What veils would be lifted? What new things would I see, feel, and experience?"
Discovery can be approached in the same way as testing your intuition. Little steps. Keep a list of questions at the ready to be used in any situation. Here are a few suggestions:
This is my automatic response to this situation. What could I do instead?
I keep seeing that color/shape/animal/number, what does it mean?
This doesn't feel right. How can I get myself more time to think it through?
Notice your patterns. Notice your go-to's. There are reasons you do what you do, and some may be deeper, more profound evidence of your connection to your intuition. For instance, ever since I was a kid I have had certain sweaters I wore when I was sick. This morning, after a bath, I put on my "I'm sick, don't touch me" sweater. It's green. The color of healing. The color of growth. The color of Anahata, the heart chakra. And as it slipped over my head, I thought about all my other "I'm sick" sweaters. They were all green! Could this be a coincidence? Sure. Or, perhaps my body knew what I needed and I just intuitively did it.
Likewise, there are certain foods you may feel drawn to at certain times. Listening to this inclination and determining the intuitive part of it is another great way to determine what your body wants and needs from you.
Now that you're discovering all that is available to you through your intuition, let's take a moment to hone it more. Now let's use it for discernment. Discernment can be defined two ways:
The ability to judge well
Perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding
Both definitions apply.
As a medium and tarot reader, discernment is crucial. If I cannot rely on and trust myself to feel out a situation, it could potentially put me and others at risk. Discerning what clients are truly seeking and which ones are messing with me was probably the first lesson. From there it quickly developed into the ability to simply think of a thing, ask myself (my intuition) yes, or no, and to take action based on the answer I got.
You can see why all the testing and playing is so important. To be able to ask yourself, "Can I trust this person's intentions?", to get an immediate and reliable answer is a gift, and worth the time investment.
Can you imagine how much less regret you will have if, in the moment, you can tap into your intuition-based discernment? How many distractions or side-tracks from your path you can avoid? You can also much more readily determine if something falls on the light or dark side of things.
I really like the definition "perception in the absence of judgment..." For me, this is invaluable. Sometimes you do not have enough information to make a decision on something, and yet are called to do it anyway. We make risk vs. reward choices every single day -- at our jobs, in relationships, at the grocery store -- but now, some of that feeling of risk can be done away with, simply by listening to and following your intuition.
At the end of the day, the key to all of this is self-trust. We must trust that we will not lead ourselves astray. In order to do that, we must establish a loving, compassionate and accepting relationship with ourselves -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is a process! When you feel like you are not where you want to be, ramp up the compassion. Sit with yourself and listen. You have important things to say to you!