Last week we summed up by saying intuition is more subjective, drawing from personal learning, experiences, and training. Insight comes more from external, objective data.
Considering the personal aspect of intuition, it is a bit unsettling when you think about how we acquire our experiences. Our world is different now than when we were growing up and forming opinions about what things mean. You can imagine the errors that were made in how we represented events and circumstances in our lives; thus, it’s possible that we do not have quality of intuition because our past is overly represented.
You know that feeling you get when something isn’t right? Given the above supposition, how can you tell if it’s your intuition helping you (Spidey-sense) or it is your ego experiencing fear? It’s easy to figure out if you’re in a dark, deserted parking lot late at night, here are some tips for the not-so-obvious times:
- You notice similar opportunities keep presenting themselves
- Your thoughts keep wandering back to the same thing
- You’re having more coherent dreams
- You feel good about a decision that doesn’t seem logical
- Your instinct and intuition appear to be in conflict (instinct is based on survival, intuition is more about your highest good)
- You may feel ill, depressed or anxious (= ignoring intuition)
And what can we do to sharpen intuition?
- Be still; it’s hard to “hear” when you’re too busy
- Pay attention to bodily sensations (Goosebumps, shivering, etc.)
- Think about “solution opportunities” in your life before going to sleep (notice dreams)
- Be aware of, and connect with, others to develop “empathic accuracy”
- Let go of negative emotions and people (they cloud intuition:
- Tap into your creativity
- Suspend the “nutter” (inner critic)
- Keep a journal: observe everything (e.g. the odd, coincidences, etc.) + write down thoughts and feelings (helps open the unconscious mind)
- Practice mindfulness; be aware without judgement (try meditation)
In general, keep an eye out for thoughts that come out of nowhere, as well as things that seem unusual or surprising; pay attention to patterns and other repeating occurrences (thoughts/leanings/items). Remember, though, not to throw common sense out the window, we need both.
Some of the same suggestions work for insight as well, e.g. mindfulness, observation, connection and positivity. Other useful practices include:
- Looking at an experience as if you’ve never had it before and observing how you relate to it
- Putting a name to the things you see and noticing if a secondary feeling arises
- Being honest about what you observe, even if it means you have to give up some ideas or wishes
The great thing about having insights? They are usually accompanied by a release of dopamine – you know, that feel-good chemical – which creates a sense of excitement. Doesn’t that make you want to “practice” right now?!