Regardless of where you fall on the Myers-Briggs personality spectrum, we all carry a capacity for intuition within us. It’s the sixth sense we have when we instinctively know whether something we’re doing is right or wrong. But should you always trust your intuition? And how do you distinguish it from fear or paranoia?
According to science, there’s a reason to listen to your gut feelings, particularly in situations when you need to make a quick decision and/or don’t have enough data to rationally evaluate what would be the best choice.
Have you been second-guessing your instincts? This article is for you. Keep scrolling to learn our best tips on how to trust your intuition.
7 Tips to strengthen your intuition
1. Sit still for a moment and listen
It’s interesting to note that the word intuition comes from the Latin ‘intueri’, meaning “to contemplate”, or “look upon.” Why? Because stillness may aid you in developing your intuition and strengthening your instinct.
We’ve all heard the truism “trust your gut,” but how can you connect to that voice within? The process might be easier for Introverts than Extraverts. That’s because these types energize by spending time alone. As an Introvert myself, I consider solitude a form of self-care.
Still, regardless of your personality type, we can all reconnect to our intuition. The key is to cut off the background noise. Sit in silence for a moment, and let your mind wander. You don’t have to do any sort of formal mindfulness practice. Just let your thoughts run free and notice what happens.
2. Practice your emotional awareness
By definition, emotional awareness is the ability to understand which emotions are present in ourselves and others. Some personality types are more tuned into their emotions than others. But even strong Feeing types may struggle to separate their own feelings from those of the people around them, which makes it more difficult to tune into their intuition. That’s where emotional awareness comes in.
Say you’re hesitating to make a decision. Instead of over-analyzing your options, notice what happens to your body when you consider each scenario. Personally, whenever I have an intuitive hunch alerting me of a potential danger, I feel it in my stomach. Are your palms sweaty? Do you have butterflies in your stomach? Be curious about the sensations and feelings that come up.
Following what “feels best” may seem foolish and over-simplistic (I see you, Sensors!), but if you recognize something is right deep in your body, it may be your intuition coming through.
3. Do something new
Another way to stimulate your intuition is to break out of your routine. This may be challenging for Judging personalities. After all, we Judgers thrive in structured environments. In fact, routines can help us all feel more focused by giving a sense of predictability to our days.
However, research suggests “too many routine requirements hinder changes and the ability to be creative.” Therefore, if you want to rekindle your intuition, try something new. It can be as simple as eating a different food for breakfast, for example. Maybe there’s a hobby you want to explore? A new coffee shop in town you’d like to visit? Try a new activity, and get your creative juices flowing.
4. Retreat into nature
Struggling to make a decision? Feeling overwhelmed by a busy day at work? Get up from your desk, and step outside. Away from the busyness of the world, nature is the perfect retreat to let your mind wander and listen to your intuition.
In fact, there’s a reason why nature makes us happy. Research shows that a 15-minute walk in the woods can reduce our cortisol levels (AKA our stress response hormone).
What’s more, retreating into the natural world can open up the kind of intuition our ancestors once developed to find food, shelter, and keep themselves away from danger. You may also want to carry a notebook with you during your walk so you can jot down any sudden flashes of inspiration.
5. Tap into your inner experience
Most of us can recall experiences when we’ve had intuitive hunches we didn’t follow. Perhaps your instinct told you to take an alternative route on your way to work, for example, and you talked yourself out of it only to be stuck in a traffic jam later. Being aware of the emotional cues you might’ve missed can be helpful to avoid similar situations in the future.
Truth is, no matter how much you may be used to following your head, intuition can serve you when you have to make quick decisions. Not only that, but one 2015 study also demonstrates you should probably follow your gut when you’ve had a lot of experience in making a particular judgment. Instead of ruminating, tap into your inner experience, and trust you already know what you have to do.
6. Move your body
Engaging your body in something physically challenging is another way you can practice strengthening your intuition. After all, the link between exercising and emotional wellbeing is well documented, and several studies support that working out makes humans happier.
Ironically, this can be especially important for people who lead with their Ni (Introverted Intuition) function. As an INFJ myself, I can attest that I sometimes spend too much time caught up in my own thoughts and forget to move my body. In short: if you’re in need of some mental clarity, it may be time to hit the gym.
7. Connect with others
Exposing yourself to different perspectives and widening your circle of care to include people you don’t agree with, may also help you develop your intuition. Pay attention to the non-verbal cues that show up in your interactions: tone of voice, body language, etc. This will force yourself to challenge your own preconceived judgments and hone your intuition.
No matter your personality type, we all possess inner intuitive wisdom. If you want to learn how to tune into it, the tips above can be a start. Remember, rationalization is important, but so are our instincts. So next time your intuition tells you to follow a certain direction, it may be worth listening.