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How To Trust Your Intuition & Discover Your Purpose

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

“Listening to intuition is a practice, like everything else in life. And as I practice it, I hear it more. And as I hear it more, I follow it more. And then I see the ease, joy, and results it brings!” -Sherry Richert Belul

In many ways, I think my intuition led me to where I am today. In many other ways, I see detailed plans, to-do lists, serendipitous opportunities, and luck that led me here.

I grew up with a Type-A personality and still maintain a lot of those qualities today. I like structure and control. I like knowing things in advance, and I think deviating from a plan is like jumping off a mountain blindfolded.

While I believe my intuition surely had a role to play, I also think I’ve spent a good amount of my life pushing it to the side. Many times, I’ve misidentified my intuition as fear or started a back-and-forth conversation with my ego on all the ways something was not a good idea.

Intuition is understanding something innately without needing to go searching for answers or reason. It’s that exciting gut feeling you get in your solar plexus before deciding to say or do something. It’s that that inkling you get when placed in a new situation—pushing you to act. It’s the hunch at the intersection of “maybe” and “hell yes.”

I’ve felt my intuition in many moments—from dates to job interviews to traveling, but I rarely listen to the voice inside that urges me to follow the sensation. It’s scary. It’s not in the plan. It doesn’t have any proven data points. It’s not on the list.

And yet, at one point, I began to ask myself why I was living in a way where I chose to confine myself. I asked myself deep questions about why spontaneity scared me and why I felt like I was unworthy of wavering off a planned path.

I realized that a lot of my anxiety came from me living my everyday life by following a script and ignoring the instincts of the person who wrote it. I was being so hard on myself and ignoring the parts that were deep inside of me trying to help.

When I got curious about the Universe, I also got curious about myself. What had I been missing all of these years? What messages are carved in my soul that I still haven’t read for myself? And how do I distinguish intuition from fear when it arises?

So, I got serious about self-awareness. Without needing to add it on my to-do list, I began looking at how doing or saying certain things made me feel, how hobbies felt in my bones, and everyday routines felt in my soul. I traced my unease and slowed down just enough to hear the story I was telling myself behind my desires.

Along this journey, something that resonated with me was what I heard from Theresa Reed, founder of The Tarot Lady, “Deep inside each of us, we know who we are and what we’re here to do. But we can’ be doing with our lives. When we learn to tune out the outside influences, we can get in touch with what our soul longs to do.”

I was tired of my rigidity and saw there was another life I could live where I followed in accordance to my inner guidance. I realized that tapping into this intuition could fill in the blanks I had collected over the years, and I wanted to get better at trusting that. I set out to become my greatest confidant and find my purpose by going straight to the source—me. So how does one start to tap into the intuition in every one of us to bring freedom into our lives?

Tapping into Intuition

“There are so many ways to quiet the mind and live in intuition, but to begin—put attention on your heart and do the experiment. Dear Universe, show me the way. And wait. Answers will come.” - Audrey Hope

I loved this quote from Hope and that her perspective on trusting our intuition intersects with surrendering. According to Hope, “One has to surrender, let go, and allow signs and messages to come. Then one has to watch for: Coincidences in life, easy flow, what hammers at you deep inside, over and over again, what books, teachers, and phone calls come to you, what abruptly leaves and ends.”

Hope’s perspective fit right in within my newfound focus on self-awareness. To dive even further into self-awareness, I spoke with transformational success coach, Natalie Stoner, who explained that “Self-awareness and clarity about the factors impacting decision making is the key to having the confidence to trust your intuition. This means getting familiar with your core values, beliefs, motivations, and desires.”

As you can imagine, the type-A character in me loved the idea of mapping out my inner workings to help strengthen my intuition. To Stoner’s point, “This clarity also makes it easier to recognize your purpose and take opportunities that align with your values, while saying no to those that don’t.”

I knew that pursuing this deep work would take time and would counter my “go go go” mentality. Jill Sylvester, a mental health counselor, suggested tuning into your intuition daily, that “slowing down the fast-paced rhythm of our lives is crucial to listen” and incorporating practices like meditation, yoga, quiet time, and connecting with nature to strengthen the intuitive muscle.

Intuition vs. Fear

“You should always trust your intuition—the bigger problem is knowing when it’s intuition speaking versus when it’s fear screaming.” - Emily Eliza Moyer

While I’ve always loved being in control, I’m often subject to letting my fears control me. I think part of what had been holding me back was misidentifying intuition with fear. Most of the time, intuition is a neutral sensation, while fear is painted with negative manifestations in the mind and body. Still, it’s hard to tag either in the moment.

I also don’t think that fear is always necessarily bad, and there is a lot we can learn from our fears. I resonated a lot of what Ashley Rachel, a personal development blogger, had to say about fear: “Sometimes fear serves a helpful purpose in our lives by keeping us safe, but sometimes it limits us and causes us to question our intuition. The best way to learn to trust our gut is by being really honest with ourselves about the source of the fear.”

This taught me that by going inward, we can better make outward decisions. Rachel’s perspective also perfectly aligned with another point I received from Wendy De Rosa, an international personal and spiritual growth teacher, and author, “Sometimes the question that can be helpful is: Is this my fear, or is this the history of fear in my body preventing me from succeeding?”

De Rosa also pointed to how the differentiation between fear and intuition relates to how grounded and connected you are to yourself. Her suggestion for separating the two comes down to “grounding ourselves into the sense of safety and security through our legs and feet.” She explained that “when we feel grounded, we are connected to the energy of trust, and ultimately, we are connected to our sense of self. When we connect to our sense of self, we are able to get clear intuition.”

Intuition & Life Purpose

“You are hard-wired to live your purpose. Intuition is trying to lead you to that purpose. You may not get the whole picture right away, but if you follow each intuitive step, you’ll get there.” - Rebecca Vazquez

With all of this knowledge, how does one take it a step further by allowing intuition to guide us toward our purpose? Going back to core beliefs, Sean Sessel, director of The Oculus Institute, makes the point that “Without hearing your intuition, you’ll struggle to distinguish your true values, which is perhaps the most important prerequisite to getting clear on your life purpose.”

Once we’re clear on values, we can continue the work of aligning with our purpose. I loved a suggestion I received from Monica M. Rivera, creator, and host of YOU WANNA DO WHAT?! The Podcast: “Stop and visualize your life. Instead of springing into action (any action), quiet your mind. Ask yourself, What do I need? And then visualize the outcome. Be very specific. Fill in all the colors of the picture, and as you move through this exercise, recognize how it feels.”

Of course, sometimes it can be scary to think that big, so I appreciated this complementary recommendation from meditation coach and yoga teacher, Morgan Balavage, “You can practice with simple questions, like: What should I eat for breakfast? And then noticing how you feel when you do what your intuition suggests. You will build your trust in yourself this way. Build up to asking the big questions, like: What should I do with my life? until you are prepared to act on whatever the answer is.”

With all of that said, living by our intuition is a beautiful way to make life easier by trusting the source of all our power. Still, there’s work to be done to understand, strengthen, and tap into our intuition when needed. I’m ready to do the work, are you?