by Jonathan Robinson and Arjuna Ardagh
Modern day life overwhelms us with choices. Who should I meet with today? What investment should I make? Who should I give to? What project should I take on at work? The list goes on and on. In the face of literally hundreds of choices available to us every day, many people just go on autopilot. They choose the easiest thing in their path so they don’t have to face the overwhelming buffet of choices in front of them. The result is a life of a little less stress and a lot less passion and possibility. For those who want more out of life, the challenge is to know which opportunities are worth saying “yes” to, and which ones you need to say “no” to.
Historically, people haven’t had to face the problem of too many choices. As little as a hundred years ago, people often went into the same trade as their parents, married the person set up for them to marry, and never thought in terms of “what opportunities are available to me?” Nowadays, we’re faced with choosing between 22,000 items each time we simply go to the supermarket. Instead of choosing between two careers or two mates, we can choose between thousands. In the face of such overwhelming choice, it has become more important than ever to choose wisely. Unfortunately, there is often too much contradictory information for the mind alone to fathom the best course of action. What can you do? Fortunately, a person can learn to use their intuition or “gut instinct” to help them decipher the best course of action within the maze of choices before them.
As leaders of spiritual growth and intuition workshops, we are often asked the same basic question: how do you know when you’re receiving true intuitive guidance versus something simply coming from your mind or conditioning? It’s an important question, and there are various answers worth exploring. On its most simple level, true intuitive guidance consists of certain attributes that are different than how we normally get information. Often, the mind slowly figures things out in a linear way, but intuitive guidance is different than that. When you get an intuitive “hit,” it often comes out of the blue all at once. It’s the classic “aha!” moment, where suddenly something becomes clear to you.
A second attribute of intuitive guidance is that it feels different than something figured out by the mind. When you get a hunch, even if you don’t like what the hunch is, it feels right. Perhaps you intuit that you need to find a different job. Your mind may not like this idea and you may even fight it, but somehow deep down it feels right for you to apply for another job. When you think of working somewhere else, your body opens, you get excited, and you notice you start to breathe easier. When you think of staying at your current job, your body contracts and shuts down. By listening to your body, you can better decipher what your intuition is trying to tell you.
Your intuition is always sending you information. If you don’t listen to it for this or that choice, it patiently waits until you’re open to receiving its guidance. An analogy that we think is helpful is that of the hot and cold game you probably played as a kid. Do you remember how to play that game? Someone would hide something like a pen under a pillow, and then a chosen person would walk into the room and try to figure out where the pen was. As they’d hear their friends say “warmer” or “cooler,” they’d eventually find the pen.
Well, imagine that life is playing a hot and cold game with you. Let’s say you’re trying to know what financial opportunities to pursue. If you don’t take any course of action, it’s like a person not moving in any direction in the hot and cold game. You get no feedback—intuitive or otherwise. But once you take an action, you get feedback. If, when you apply for a certain job, you feel light, happy, and good in your body, that’s your intuition saying “you’re getting warmer.” If on the other hand when you follow up on a job opportunity and your chest seems to close down, that’s your intuition telling you “you’re freezing.” By taking frequent action and listening to the “hot” and “cold” messages your intuition sends to your body, you can better decipher the best course of action.
In our free tele-class “How to Thrive Now in the New Economy,” we have interviewed many famous people who have followed their intuition to create a life of greater contribution, success, and inner peace. This week, we will be talking to Jack Canfield, the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, on how he used his gut instinct to help create one of the bestselling book series of all time. In addition, we’ll be talking to New York Times bestselling author Sonia Choquette on how she helps people listen to and act on their intuitive impulses. You can enroll and listen in on this web based class for free.
The good news is that once you learn the skill of how to listen your intuitive guidance, whole new worlds open up to you. As you listen to your body and what feels right, you notice that seemingly magical coincidences glide your way. On a personal note, we’ve both noticed that the results we’ve received from following our intuition has been infinitely better than following what our mind said we “should” do. Following intuition has led to things like being on Oprah (for Jonathan), having bestselling books, and deeper love in our lives. On the other hand, following our minds has often led us to dead ends and struggle. Over time, we’ve learned to more frequently say “yes” to our intuition and “no” to the many other voices clamoring for our attention. We hope you do the same.