6. When the decision inconveniences you.
Intuition also disregards practicality, or your plans. It’s not concerned with efficiency or convenience. It is concerned with one thing — effectiveness. Making you do what is right.
It’s easy to ignore intuition when your resources are depleted — which makes you lazy and unwilling to step outside of your comfort. But you know you’ll regret it later.
I never said that following intuition is easy. Not even remotely. All the more reason to keep yourself well-nourished — so that you can take up the challenges and demands that come your way when you’re following your intuition.
7. When it scares you.
Another thing intuition disregards is your fears. In fact, it often picks directions that seem the scariest, the one to avoid. If you feel that you should do something but are afraid to, that is one of the surest signs to tell that you’re hearing your intuition.
In romantic relationships, I have a rule of thumb — if there’s something I wonder if I should tell my wife, that’s precisely the thing I need to tell. Over the years, my relationships blossomed when I followed this advice, and suffered when I didn’t, as I was afraid to say what I wanted to say.
A small example: the other day I was driving home from an appointment, and I was running late. But I was also supposed to pick up some stuff at a grocery store, which my wife didn’t know I was going to do. I thought that she’d complain if I told her that I’d be even later — so I didn’t tell her I was stopping, though I did. When I got home, I found her getting ready to go to the grocery store that I just stopped at, because she had something to pick up herself. I beat myself for not telling her the truth, and wasting her time. It’s a little thing, and I couldn’t have known when we weren’t communicating openly. But the truth is that I was defying my intuition because I wanted to avoid my wife complaining.
Now, there is a twist I also need to mention. Fear is not the same emotion as dreading something. Perhaps my choice of words don’t make sense to you — but there is a difference between fearing to do something because you’re afraid of what’s going to come out of it, and not wanting to do something because you simply don’t feel that it’s you. It’s a very fine line, but the former is a fear of consequence, while the latter is the pain of incompatibility. For example, there are some temp jobs I worked in the past that I would never do again, even if I go broke and bankrupt. They are simply not my kind of job, and working them stressed me out and hurt my body — worse than being broke. But I used to subject myself to such a situation because I was afraid of going broke. So perhaps the way to tell is to see if you’re afraid of doing something, or if you’re doing something because you’re afraid of the consequence from doing otherwise.
Either way, the right path is scarier. And that’s where you need to go.
8. If it does not result in immediate gratifications.
Intuition makes you decide what’s right, not what’s good. It’s actually more concerned about what you gain from your choice itself, rather than what comes out as a result of your choice.
For example, let’s say you’re deciding to buy an expensive camera. You do a thorough research, narrow down the model and the vendor, but when it comes time to place an order, you still don’t feel like that’s what you’re supposed to do. You want to just buy the darn thing and move on with your life, yet you just don’t feel right about moving forward.
So you wait. Next day, you find that a friend has a camera that you were looking at, and you get to try it. You love it, and it’s exactly what you need — and with that addition of a real-life trial, now there’s not even a smidgen of doubt in your mind. You place the order immediately.
In this scenario, the outcome is the same — you get a camera. But the way in which you ordered it is what matters. It’s a big purchase and you want to make sure you make good decisions. Having gone through this process, even if something goes amiss down the road — like the camera that arrives has a defect — you still would know that you made the right decision, and will be able to deal with the problems without looking back and wondering what you did wrong.
Fear and laziness always call for quick fixes. They want it now. So when the voice inside tells you to do otherwise, there’s a good chance it’s your intuition speaking.
9. If it’s hard to justify it.
Even when it makes some sense, sometimes intuitive decisions are hard to justify. Like deciding to spend money, when all conventional wisdom says such a spending is a bad idea. You have your reasons, but you know that it’s going to be hard for others to understand them.
Intuition is not concerned with perceived risks or breaking codes. Sometimes it calls you to do something forbidden, dangerous, or costly. If you still sense that you need to go do it, despite not really being able to justify that decision to anyone — you may be listening to your intuition.
Conclusion: Learning to Listen to Your Intuition
When there are at least 3 difference voices inside your head, it’s easy to get them mixed up. The above is a scoring system I developed over the years to gauge my impulses and figure out which ones to follow.
To tell you the truth, my batting average used to be quite low. I’d say I used to ignore my intuition 8 or 9 times out of 10. I was simply insecure and low on resources, so I didn’t trust my own intuition, either. I’m still in the process of fully allowing myself to be an intuitive person I always knew I was — if I were to gauge myself, I’d say right now I’m about 5 or 6. So I still have a lot of unlearning and adjusting to do.
One last experiment I’d mention is to play with decision-making time. Some people do much better when you make quick and immediate decisions, before other voices enter your mind. Being used to thinking thoroughly and deeply, I go the opposite direction — fully processing and evaluating all the voices, so that intuition remains at the end. But I also can envision myself being able to make more quick decisions as I grow more into my natural intuition.
Finally, while listening to intuition is a skill everyone has and can develop — obviously, not everyone has strong antennas in this area. I’m re-discovering how strong of an intuitive I am after straying away into the realm of more thought-based decisions — but I also think there are many people who are simply not meant to be that intuitive.
Still, it’s a useful skill to have, to tap into your intuition, as some things in life simply defy logic. Just being aware that there’s a whole non-logic based ways to sense and make right decisions can help prepare you for such an occasion.
What do you do? Do you have any tricks or ways to tell what your intuition is saying? What happens when you ignore it, or follow it?