Have you ever wondered what a Monday morning looked like 3000 years ago? Without news, alarm clocks, smartphones, and even proper cutlery!! While we might prefer our comfy lifestyles, there's one very important thing that we’ve lost along the way from caves to our modern homes, that is intuition.
Over the centuries, we moved from trusting our instinct and intuition toward trusting institutions or worse – media and advertising. Instead of listening to our own gut that got us through really tough times, we now seek external guidance and discard our own deep knowing.
How do you think salmon know where to swim to spawn or birds know that it’s time to migrate for the winter? Even our pets that live outdoors know if the winter is going to be very cold or a summer very hot. You might not like it that I compare us to animals, however, they are much better at listening to nature and “knowing” things that are beyond our comprehension! But it wasn’t always like that. Those ancestors 3000 years ago and even farmers or indigenous people now are very good at reading natures’ clues. They live off their instincts and intuition and don’t need a weather forecast to predict the weather because most of the answers lie in nature. We just need to listen, and we’ll hear answers to much more complex questions than the weather.
What is a gut feeling or the inner knowing?
There is a growing number of research and theories on gut feeling. Some argue that it is limited to the knowledge that we've accumulated over our life so it's not that helpful. Others argue that 2 seconds is all it takes for you to know the answer to any questions, challenge, or situation because your subconscious knows the answer before you even hear a question.
The best way to describe it is by showing the distinction between the different voices that are always talking to us from our own brains.
Did you notice that you have two quite opposing inner voices? And this second or more likely first voice doesn't need any introduction. You know it way better than your instincts or gut feeling. The constant doubt, the chatter of the mind, the questioning and judging - Should I go? Should I buy it? Should I eat it? Should I speak up? If I say yes, what others will think of me? .... you get the picture.
We have to thank our doubtful, always scared and ready to flee lizard brain voice for this. This voice was once very useful. It used to help our ancestors to escape death from wild animals, spot pray before it killed them. But not anymore. The part of the brain that is responsible for this voice is paranoid about dangers that no longer exist in our modern cities. So the only thing it serves now is keeping you from big changes and living the life you deserve. Finding a new job will not kill you. Following your passions will not kill you, well most of the passions at least. And going for a walk instead of completing another burning task will certainly not kill you.
So the gut feeling is the first thought, the voice that unconsciously knows the answer before the question was finished. The voice that you hear from deep within in less than 2 seconds before the lizard brain changes your mind with consideration and doubt.
But why do you need all of this in the first place?The short answer - is to regain control of your life.
The long answer - is our modern lives are pretty much organized for us. Our routines are based on our jobs, our habits are influenced by Instagram influencers, and buying decisions by companies trying to get us to buy stuff that we probably don't even need. Our smartphones lure us in spending hours scrolling through irrelevant news or cute animal videos because somebody else is earning more from your attention. We can't be further away from living on our own terms because somebody else is constantly pulling the strings. It applies to everything and anything from the examples mentioned above all the way to our relationship with our partners, kids, friends, and families. We are set in social constructs and 98% of the time we do what is right based on some “normal” standards rather than what we feel like. [You can read what we think about “normal” in our previous blog post here.]
I was “lucky” to see the difference between living on my own vs somebody else’s terms, even though they came from the best intention for me. Over my bumpy working from home life, I've learned it the hard way, yet I was privileged to learn it! Moving to London, picking up jobs, saying “yes” to crazy opportunities was how I was used to doing things. Even moving back from London came without much consideration, rather from that inner knowing. However, when being back I started doing what is “right” rather than what I felt like. Whenever I did what was logical vs what the gut told me, I've earned less, felt stressed, and in general, the level of contentment was on a downward trend. No Pants Office would not have come to life had I and Indre followed the "right" path of stable income in established institutions. So a couple of health breakdowns and hard lessons down the line, we're all in for listening to our gut feeling vs doing what is right!
So, we can confidently say that listening to the gut feeling and trusting intuition is the first step in breaking free from social constructs that got us playing by their rules. And if you want to take control of your life, start reconnecting with your gut feeling now. How?
7 simple ways to reconnect with your intuition
Your instincts are the closest to your intuition as they both originate from the same source. So start by listening to and addressing your bodily instincts in a form of physical needs – are you craving for a certain food, does your body tell you to go for a walk, or maybe your gut is turning upside down when even thinking about something? Try to identify these instincts, don’t fight them, act on them when you can, and start noticing the changes this brings to your life. Just be careful not to mistake bad eating habits with instincts and watch out not to start acting on food cravings too often.
The only way you can reconnect with your instincts and invite intuition back into your life is by re-learning to listen to your inner self. So, start noting down your gut feeling. The first idea in a given situation. The idea popped up in 2 seconds after facing a situation.
Act on it where you feel comfortable and write it down when you don't feel comfortable acting on it immediately. Noting down your intuition or instincts will let you go back and reflect on the outcome of situations had you acted on your gut feeling. Over time you will gain the confidence to trust this feeling if it proves right as an alternative solution had you acted on it. Start choosing what you want over what you think is needed. Trust your first thought and don't let doubts change your mind.
Making a bad decision is 10 times better than not making any decision!! Consideration, doubt, and being undetermined eat up your willpower and you end up exhausted and without a decision. REMEMBER – a decision is better than no decision and you can fix pretty much any bad decision with focused action. So, commit to making decisions.
Your gut feeling or intuition appears before the always judging and "protecting" lizard brain voice. So when unsure, ask yourself - what was my first feeling/idea in this situation and what is the outcome of all the considerations. How do you feel about each?
Another good exercise is "sleeping on it". The first answer that pops up after waking up usually is what your intuition tells you.
Meditation gives space for “not thinking” and so quiets the always-on chatter. It gives space between the world and our reactions to it, a better judgment, separating what is important and what simply is so it’s by far the best way to start reconnecting with inner-self and inner-knowing and if applied together with other practices above can produce wonders.