Risky Women by Megan Ragsdale – purchase now on Amazon

torn paper revealing words Trust Yourself

Getting in Touch With Your Intuition

One way to start building trust with yourself and your intuition is to recognize that every single decision and risk you take is both rational and emotional. People may say they want to take the emotion out of a decision, but that’s impossible. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) of our brains, where our executive functioning resides, works with the amygdala (which has a major role in our emotional responses) to arrive at decisions. 

Without using emotions, the amount of information and choices can be completely overwhelming on even the simplest decisions, and we would struggle to make any decisions in a reasonable time frame. If I asked you where you wanted to go for lunch, for example, but you couldn’t access your feelings about the places I suggested, you’d have a list of restaurants but no way of narrowing down your choices. You would have only a list of facts and no feelings about those facts to help you prioritize and rank them. 

The truth is that you will always have to make decisions with incomplete information, no matter how much research you do. This is where being able to tap into your emotions for guidance can be so helpful. The only way to do that successfully is to be fully honest with yourself about what you really want and how you really feel about something. Your feelings will always come first, which is why we need to get very good at identifying them.

It all comes down to self-awareness, but it’s hard to wake up one day and suddenly become more self-aware. Making that change can be difficult, so here are some tools and techniques to help you become more aware of your internal states, preferences, and emotions.

1. SILENCE

When I start to feel disconnected from my body and too much in my head, this is the very first thing I do. I turn off the podcasts and the music, and I just drive in silence, walk in silence, and get ready for my day in silence. If you’re feeling particularly low energy, it can be hard to do this at first. Your body and brain will scream at you to pick up the phone, turn on the speaker, or watch a movie. It’s difficult to settle into yourself and let your thoughts and feelings come, because they might not be particularly pleasant, but the process pays dividends. 

If you can only do this for five minutes a day, then do it for five minutes. You don’t even have to be meditating (although that would be helpful); you can simply stare at the wall or sit in a chair and just be. It might not happen right away, but after some time of building more and more silence into your day, you will start to hear your inner voice again. You may not immediately know what your next move should be, but you will at least start to know how you are really feeling. That’s the most important step. Once you know that, you will start to get some indication

of what you want, what makes you feel good, and what makes you feel bad. You might even learn something about yourself. 

Honor your intuition by continuing to feed it with more of the things that make you feel peaceful in mind, body, and spirit. This will take time. Transformations come with the accumulation of little steps every day, not one sweeping jump off a cliff.

2. RETRAINING YOUR BRAIN CHATTER 

Most of us have a running commentary inside our heads all day long, and if we were to put a microphone on this inner voice, it would sound like it belonged to the most vicious, spiteful, and petty person we’ve ever met. This chatter takes your mind down a dark alley into a bad neighborhood. If you’re meant to trust your intuition, how you speak to yourself is of paramount importance. Would you trust someone who you thought was a total fuckup who couldn’t do anything right? Me neither, which is why you can’t keep talking to yourself like this.

Your internal critic is the source of most of your unhappiness, anxiety, worry, and fear. Your brain is always doing one of two things: ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. The key to peace is to stay in the present, but for most of us, our ability to do this is fleeting. It’s too

easy to get distracted by the millions of bits of information coming at us every moment. We simply can’t process it all. 

Breath work, silence, and taking the time to be alone in nature help quiet my internal monologue, calm down my nervous system, and allow me to realize that in this moment, right now, everything is OK. When my internal chatter starts to become a runaway train, I sometimes tell myself: We don’t even know what happens when we die! Why worry about this now? In the book Chatter, author Ethan Kross calls this temporal distancing. Ask yourself if you will still care about this a year or ten years from now, to put things back into perspective.

3. GRAPES

GRAPES is a tool from cognitive behavioral therapy, an acronym that stands for: 

  • Gentle with Self. This can be releasing yourself from an expectation, stopping your inner critic from judging you, or simply making a choice that makes your life easier.
  • Relaxation. Consciously do something relaxing, even for only a few moments per day. That can include calling a friend, meditating, walking outside, or taking a bath. 
  • Accomplishment. Try ticking something off your to-do list. Even completing a very small task can give you the positive feeling of getting something done or doing something well.
  • Pleasure. Simply engage in an activity purely for its own sake, and with no other purpose than your own enjoyment. 
  • Exercise. Get moving. Whatever you are capable of doing, set aside time to move your body.  S Social. Engage with another human being in some way, preferably in person, if it’s safe. We all need connection. 

If you can do these GRAPES every day, even just for a few minutes, you will build a consistent practice of self-care and self-love. You will also regain trust in yourself and realize that you can truly take care of yourself, just like someone who loves you would. That’s the antithesis of  turning against yourself.

Find the tools and techniques that best allow you to tap into your internal wisdom. Intuition is unique to you, which means it only connects with your actual truth. So many women never realize they’re obscuring their intuition with limiting beliefs, outside opinions, and other things they picked up during their upbringing that are not really in touch with their true selves. Unless you can do the work to uncover that truth, it’s going to be difficult to tap into your intuition, which will make this entire process an uphill battle.

Intuition will help you separate what society says you need to be happy from the core desires that are actually necessary for you to live a happy and fulfilled life.

This is an excerpt from my new book Risky Women: How to Reach the Top Levels of Leadership or Know When It’s Time to Get The Hell Out. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Porchlight.

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