Are you someone who prides herself on her good judgment? Do you “go with your gut” when making decisions, from what career path to take, to who to hire, or finding a partner? And have you ever thought about whether you’re using instinct or intuition?
If you’d love to enhance your ability to make the right decisions for your path in life then you’re going to love today’s article. I want to share an important distinction about where intuition comes from, what it is, what it’s not – and how to enhance it.
Instinct or intuition – what’s the difference?
Intuition is one of our most powerful gifts as leaders. I don’t think it’s exclusively the domain of women, but the female leaders I’ve worked with over the years certainly have natural strengths and talents in this area. It certainly hasn’t always been valued when it comes to leadership. But I believe the more we step into it the more fruitful, powerful and effective we can become.
Here at One of many™ we choose to distinguish between instinct and intuition because we believe it gives us access to a more profound wisdom and strength as leaders.
Look in the dictionary and you’ll probably see intuition described as; The ability to understand something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning. But our experience at One of many is that our intuition comes from a different place to our instinct.
Let me explain.
Instinct for me is the body. It’s our heightened senses, the animalistic part of our nature.
Our instincts can tell us when something is wrong – it’s more of a survival drive and is often linked to fear.
However, if you are intuiting something, you can’t do it from a place of fear. You can’t intuit from anything less than a very open place.
Intuition for us comes from source, from our connection to all that there is. It’s a very open state and deep knowing, which is usually accompanied by a real sense of okay-ness.
This definition is important because it helps us to utilise our intuition better.
One of the most challenging things for us to do is to separate true intuition (which I believe is great for messaging as to whether we are on purpose for our destiny) from
A) Wishful thinking (which is what we hope will happen) or
B) Projection (which is where we interpret ideas or images through the lens of our own experiences or what’s happened to us in the past).
When you’re able to distinguish wishful thinking, projection and instinct from intuition – you can actually start to use intuition as a real faculty.
In those momentary flashes of insight, which we call intuition – we can shape whole new directions for our future. It’s a profound state.
What intuition is not!
Let’s look first at wishful thinking.
I remember when I was looking for an intimate partner I’d meet someone and think I had an intuition that this was the one. He ticked all the right boxes but then I’d be disappointed when it didn’t go anywhere. What I realised was this was a deep wishful thinking for a lifelong desire to be partnered with somebody which is easy to mistakenly misinterpret as intuition. It was never accompanied by a deep sense of knowing and was more of a frantic thing.
My experience of intuition is it is actually a very calm place. Not an agitated place, which wishful thinking can sometimes be.
Now let’s look at projection.
Projection is where we think our intuition is telling us something but we are actually projecting our past experiences onto a situation. I remember working with a lady who was convinced that her intuition was telling her that her husband was going to cheat on her. When he did she was not surprised but when we looked at it what we could see was because she was so convinced it had really altered her behaviour. And because she was behaving jealously and weirdly towards him the intimacy wasn’t there and so no surprises when it did go awry. I’m not saying that it’s right, but it is understandable. This is projection.
And finally your instinct,
Instinct is your animal body telling you something. Often it’s input from a survival standpoint. I remember once being out walking in a city, when we turned into a street and I just stopped. “We can’t go down here. It just doesn’t feel right.” It felt very fearful. This is instinct. And I will never know whether that was a right or wrong choice. But my instinct told me and so I listened.
Why you need to know the difference.
The problem is instinct, wishful thinking and projection are not helping to guide us towards our destiny. They are either keeping us safe or deluding us. So the only way for us to really be able to use this great tool of intuition is for us to be able to distinguish what it is.
How do you tell the difference between instinct or intuition?
All of the women who I have spoken to describe intuition as coming with a real sense of calm, openness, knowingness, joy and a sense of connection. There is no doubt, no questioning of it, simply real clarity.
I’m always a little bit wary of intuition if it comes with excitement because it could be a little bit of instinct in there. It is a heightened sense, with no fear, concern or worry around it.
There are many great stories about the power of intuition. It’s said that Einstein had clear intuition around his theory of relativity. And the great scientist James Watson who discovered DNA and the intertwined helix had a symbolic dream of two intertwined snakes.
Each of us has a different way that we relate with intuition. Some people have intuitive seeing; they might see a vision of something or get a picture. Some people are more clairaudient, they hear things; maybe voices or people come and tell them things in dreams.
Dreams and meditation are those times when your intuition can speak to you most strongly. So for that reason they’re the best places to start working on developing your intuition.
I’ve got a really simple 4 step process for helping to develop your intuition.
Step 1 – Get in flow.
There are many different strategies you can use to get in flow. One of the tools I really rely on is the morning journaling that I do. I write 3 pages of A4 each morning, it’s a general brain dump and works wonders. I also love going on soft play dates, these are quiet moments alone with myself. I get a lot of downloads and intuition at those times.
Step 2 – Really listen.
I say listen and that sounds like it’s auditory but what I mean is being really aware and open for the messages. Be tuned in and work through all of your senses. A good acronym to help you remember is VAKOG –visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory.
Slowing down is key to you tuning into your wisdom. It’s really important to develop meditation techniques or whatever works for you to harness the ability to listen with every faculty of your being.
Step 3 – Ask for more.
Every time it happens be grateful for it and ask for more. This is thinking and thanking. At the end of every day if I’ve had an intuitive insight into something I make sure I stop and take time to express deep gratitude for intuition and the solution to my problem or whatever it is.
Step 4 – Get really familiar with your intuition.
Every time something happens take a moment to reflect and really look at whether it is your projection, wishful thinking, instinct or actually your intuition at work because the more familiar become with it the more it will happen in your life. If you slow down and spend time with it, your body will tell you.
Instinct or intuition? Ask yourself…
- Is it associated with an open state, feeling of connection and calm or not?
- Is this wishful thinking?
- Am I projecting or is this an instinctive thing?
- Is it an image or sensation from my past?
- Have I seen this somewhere in a book or on TV?
- Does it have anything to do with my fears or worries?
- How much do I wish that this was the case?
Remember if any of those things are triggered then it might not be intuition. If you feel conflicted at all as to which it is, then don’t act on it. Simply don’t do anything and the universe will give it to you again if you remain aware. She’ll keep tapping you on the shoulder until you step into it. So if you’re not sure where it’s coming from then it’s best to do nothing and ask for further clarity.
What things do you do to get in flow? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below.
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