Intuition has been on my mind as of late. I’ve been thinking about the ways we use our intuition and the ways we have stifled our intuition. I believe intuition is an important part of the decision making process. During our childbearing years we have many decisions to make. There are many options surrounding childbirth and one of the ways to know what the best decision for us and our situation is by tapping into our intuition. Sometimes we call this “going with our gut”.
Let’s talk about what intuition is and isn’t. Intuition isn’t the opposite of reason and logic. It’s not just going with a feeling. Psychologists think intuition is an unconscious associating process in our brains. Our brains look at a situation and match what it already knows about situations similar to the one we are processing. It comes up with a reaction, a chemical response in the body, or thoughts based on what it knows from past experiences. Sometimes our intuition is telling us we don’t have enough information to be able to make a decision and we need to gather more information. Brené Brown defines intuition as, “…not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason”.1
As I’ve thought about intuition, I have realized that our culture now days has forced us to stifle and distrust our intuition. So much so that I it’s difficult to even know what thoughts and feelings are coming from our intuition and what is coming from fear. Another way we stifle our intuition is by wanting to be sure about everything. Not knowing is difficult for us humans. In this day of abundant information I think we want to know and have all the answers. We want to be able to get all the information now and know that the outcome will be the one we desire. When using intuition, we don’t always have a sure answer. Sometimes we need to make decisions, witness the outcome, then make other decisions based on the outcome. I believe this is scary to us.
When we distrust our intuition we become fearful and look for assurance from outside sources. At times this comes as surveying other people. We want to know what others think. We want to know what they think we should do. We want to know if they think it’s a good idea. We want to know what they would do, if they were in the same situation. We start polling people. This is one way we know we are disconnected from our intuition. We want to be reassured and as Brené Brown says, “We want…folks with whom we can share the blame if things don’t pan out”.1
When I read that quote in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, I realized how much this happens in the realm of childbirth. I see so many women, myself included, giving up the decision making to their care provider because they don’t trust their intuition. At the same time, they don’t have to take responsibility for the outcome, because someone else made the decision for them. They have someone else to blame.
I want to challenge you to make the decision to become responsible for your decisions and the outcomes from them. Taking the decision making process in your hands is an empowering experience. It forces you to own your life. It forces you to accept yourself where you are. This can be scary, but incredibly worth it.
Take it one step at a time. Don’t focus on the outcome. Focus on the process and owning it. Sometimes our intuition is telling us we need to slow down and move through the process slowly. Take time, gather the information you need before jumping in. I think sometimes we jump to make an answer before doing our due diligence, because we are afraid that it will lead us away from what we think we want. Don’t be afraid to change your mind from what you thought you originally wanted. Be flexible! Things change, we gain new information, if we aren’t flexible and are tied to an outcome, we will struggle to follow our intuition. Being still long enough to make a mindful decision, can feel vulnerable. Vulnerability can be scary. But when we are vulnerable we are able to connect with ourselves and those around us.
Practice using your intuition in all areas of your life. Becoming connected to ourselves and listening to our intuition is a powerful and empowering experience.
1.The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown.