Unlocking the Power of Intuition
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow know what you truly want to become. -Steve Jobs
As a thirty-seven year-old slightly stubborn woman with a big appetite for new experiences and opportunity, I have often found myself in some pretty hilarious situations on the journey of both self and vocational discovery. Throughout my adult life I’ve worked in many industries: sales, fashion, education, design, culinary, and thankfully I eventually honed in on music, writing, and counseling. Some may call this confused; I call it well-rounded.
During the last several years of working in private practice and building a community I am passionately committed to, I have noticed something big, something with staying power. It’s frustrating as hell and incredibly helpful all at once. It’s the thing that absolutely individuates us from each other, yet also brings us together through honest communication and connection. It invites us out of our niceness and into our truth. It is perhaps the most valuable asset to nurture and protect as human beings.
Drum roll please…this thing is, Intuition.
When I was in graduate school, one of my several (but most favorite) jobs was working at a fabulous little boutique called Moda in the very hot and happening 12th South neighborhood of Nashville. With a serious obsession for pretty clothes and a fascination for meeting new, fun people, it was a slice of heaven and a welcomed break from the demands of school.
One Tuesday morning I was at the shop alone and still a little fuzzy on how to confidently work the check out situation (I think it’s called a POS). Out of nowhere, a little burst of business happened right around lunchtime. I noticed one suspect lady quietly mulling around the back room near the sale rack. Something was off; I could tell by her odd behavior. Yet I was still a newbie and didn’t want to get all weird and overconfident.
I smiled a fake smile and stayed in my nice lane. When the hustle and bustle died down and I had a few minutes to straighten up the store, I noticed a few pieces were missing. I was horrified— and super miffed at myself and that sneaky lady! The NERVE! Most of all, I hated to disappoint Meredith, the owner, who entrusted me to man the shop that morning. Thankfully I learned this stuff happens in retail all the time and no lasting harm was done. Phew—irresponsibility shame averted.
What did crystallize in my memory that day was Meredith, my now close friend, saying to me upon her return, “Katie, you have excellent intuition. Never be afraid to use it.” This powerful affirmation landed on me like a ton of gold bricks and unlocked a journey of exploration I still find myself on. I thought to myself, Really? That sounds so powerful! Her affirmation was a lynchpin shift in my psyche, inviting me to pay way more respect to this still, small, or apparently big, voice.
Intuition is extremely powerful, and I believe we all have it. However, we must choose to honor it.
Unfortunately, and as was my case for years, we can be completely disconnected from the voice of intuition and miss it altogether. We miss it when we are spread too thin and living in survival mode. We miss it when we coast on autopilot due to a numbing addiction, apathy, or both. We also miss it due to honest un-awareness. After all, Intuition 101 isn’t offered in traditional schools I know of anywhere.
Last week, Mary Crimmins shared about the invaluable role intuition plays in our relationship with food, allowing us to dial into optimal individual health and vitality. That is certainly a ripe place to practice listening. In therapy, this is one of my favorite often-uncharted territories to explore with clients: learning to be led by that powerful voice. Here are a couple of helpful tools I have gathered in this practice of intuition.
Some of the most successful and inspiring people I know or have observed possess something in common: intention. Living out of intention is like having as a constant permission slip in your back pocket to take the next sure-footed step. Despite a booked up calendar week after week, intention allows for a clear vision of where we are and where we are going, while editing our lives to align with that vision along the way.
In order to edit, one must slow down and look closely. I’m guilty of running—and I don’t mean for exercise. Mine is more of a constant state of moving because it feels productive, yet lacks clear or purposeful destination. Slowing down for me looks like connecting with myself, hopefully each morning, in order to check in with where I am, where I am going, and what I need from day-to-day physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, yet personal check-ins create a safe space to practice listening to our intuition, our internal compass.
No is a complete sentence.
This is for all you people-pleasers out there (you are not alone). No is a complete sentence and a very necessary option if we want to honor intuition. Unlike personality or ego, intuition is NOT a people pleaser and has no concept of co-dependency. Our personality, or the way in which we present to the world, learned early on that people pleasing is valuable when this behavior was somehow rewarded. Unfortunately, the wisdom of our intuition is often overshadowed by the alluring silhouette of people pleasing and makes the word “no” a bland if not scary choice. A wise friend gave me brilliant words of wisdom once while grappling with a weighty decision. “There are two answers: yes and no. Pick one.” Easy, right?
As “no” becomes common currency in our daily exchange, our “yes” becomes more valuable, subsequently attracting a rich reality of confidence, desire, and opportunity.
We all get off course. We are human. But, as Queen Oprah—I like to call her—insists in a must see video I came across recently, “There are no mistakes because you have a Supreme Destiny.” We are all on a path of destiny— calling. And, we will all encounter detours. However, our detours do not equal failure. Detours nudge our truth to speak up and self-correct, pointing us to the next best decision, and from there the next, and on and on.
So, as my lovely friend and former boss, Meredith, spoke into my life years ago, prompting great empowerment and curiosity, I humbly do the same for you, reminding you of this:
You have a beautiful and powerful gift called intuition. Never be afraid to use it. In fact, access it often. Explore it. Play with it. Celebrate it. It will lead you into wisdom and away from sticky detours. Even when you don’t fully understand or embrace its message, slow down enough to honor it— and just listen. There is hope and safety in the next best decision.