We’re at part 3 of this series already! Today we unpack: Trusting Your Intuition.

Trusting your intuition is a topic I am asked about A LOT. Many understand it in theory but are unsure how to actually put it into practice. This is a coaching moment I really love to share because as you begin to listen to your body and inner wisdom, Life. Really. Changes.

In this final part of our series on managing mental wellness I’m asking Naturopathic Doctor, friend and fellow recovering people-pleaser Dr. Chris, “How do you recommend people learn to trust their intuition/heart?” as it relates to their overall wellness and life choices, in support of that. Here is what she offered;

The Voice

In spiritual circles, many speak about “the voice.” We all have a voice in our head that keeps talking and talking, and many of us are completely absorbed by it. This is the voice that tells you why you aren’t good enough, that keeps you fearful or keeps you in analysis mode so you never end up making a decision. That is the wrong voice to listen to. When I suggest
you learn to trust your voice, I am referring to your inner voice: the voice of truth. There are many expressions for the idea of an inner voice: intuition, inner guide, sixth sense, gut feeling, soul, spirit, heart, voice of God, etc. I use them interchangeably. This is the voice that is trying to get you to live your purpose.

Listening and Hearing

The important questions are: Can you hear it? And if yes, are you listening to it? Learning to trust your inner voice is an integral part of healing from any imbalance. Intuitively, your body knows what to do to repair and self-heal. The problem for too many of us is that we don’t trust it. Instead, we remain in doubt, fear, depression, anxiety and indecision. For examples, lack of confidence, indecision and self-doubt can be symptoms of depression that cloud our judgment and make it difficult to trust our intuition.

Personally, I now know that my inner voice is the only one to listen to. I no longer feel paralyzed by angst when making decisions. I may not understand why I’m following the voice, but I don’t argue with it. What you have to gain from learning to trust your inner voice is peace of mind, inner strength and joy.

To learn to trust your inner voice, follow these steps:

1. Be silent– I often say to patients that it is difficult to hear the voice of God if you are always talking. While prayer is a useful tool for many, it is still thought-based. To hear your inner voice, silence is required. Developing a regular breathing practice sharpens your awareness skills. It is through silence, stillness and an aware presence that your inner voice can be  heard. The more you practice, the more clearly you’ll hear your inner voice.

2. Reconnect with your body – Our bodies are always talking to us. That is why descriptive terms to describe your intuition include things like “gut instinct” and “spidey sense.” I can literally feel tension around my stomach and heart when my intuition is trying to get my attention. A simple exercise to help you trust your inner voice (versus the voice of fear) is to start having a conversation with your heart. For example, in any given situation, you can pay attention to the response your body gives you when you ask Yes or No to a question you have or a decision you are trying to make. If you notice a warmth or softening in your body, then the answer is Yes. If you feel a contraction, heaviness or closing, then the answer is No. The key is to figure out how your body communicates with you. Different people have different ways of tuning in to their inner voices.

3. Listen to messages from the heart – A common concern is differentiating between the voice of the heart and the voice of the mind. If you aren’t used to tuning in to your gut feeling and trusting it, you might doubt its message at first. It would be nice if we could just call 1-800-DOUBT for assistance. Since that hotline doesn’t exist, we end up calling someone who knows us for help and advice, often a parent, sibling, best friend, colleague or therapist. By talking to someone who knows us, we hope to get clear answers. The key is to learn to trust yourself for the answers versus searching outside of yourself. When it comes to “matters of the heart,” the answer resides in you. It requires listening. Start by having a conversation with your heart around simple decisions, such as: “Tonight, would you like brown rice or quinoa for dinner?” Slowly work your way up with these small decisions so that
you can build your confidence when it comes to making bigger life decisions. I encourage you to check in with your heart for the small decisions you make every day, such as what to wear, which route to take when driving, what to order if you are eating out, what to watch on TV or what to cook for dinner.

How to listen to your intuition

It took me a long time to listen to my intuition. I hope I can make this a little easier for you by suggesting these tips:

1. Observe and discern between the physical body sensations associated with a yes or no response to your questions.

2. Practice listening to your inner voice with small daily decisions.

3. Act.  A practical exercise you can do to build your intuition is to leave the house with no plans. You can step out for an hour or make it a whole-day adventure. Either way, tune in to your feelings and allow them to guide you about where to go. The key is to not have a pre-set agenda—just enjoy every step you take and follow where your intuition guides you. Be completely present and notice what happens and where you go. If you like, you can set an intention before you leave and see what transpires.

Some great insights and tools here from Dr. Chris. If you would like to connect with her for support on your journey or to read her new book, just hope over to her website at drchristinabjorndal.com

To read the other 2 parts in this series on natural approaches to mental wellness; jump over to Part 1 or Part 2.