I call my intuition Herman (even though he would prefer a more studly name).
Herman is like a non-judgmental and loving, but very decisive and opinionated older brother. He has my best interests at heart.
Herman will give me a “hell yes” or a “hell no” when I’m trying to make a decision in my life. It makes the process so much easier. I tell myself to just listen to Herman and it’ll all be okay.
Herman will never tell me anything that I don’t already know, but he gives me confirmation and permission.
He gives me permission to go after all of the things I really want in my life. He also gives me permission to say no to things I really don’t want to do, but am afraid to decline in case I make a mistake or I hurt someone’s feelings.
But there have been times when Herman has been completely silent, or at least quiet enough that I couldn’t hear him. At those times, I’ve felt pretty alone and confused, not knowing what to do.
At other times, he’s still talking but what I hear from him is a big fat “meh” — neither choice is good or bad right now, so it’s up to you, Suzanne.
Great, now I have to decide for myself!
At that point, I get stuck, unable to move forward. My mind (I don’t have a nickname for my mind yet — I’ll think about it) takes over when Herman is quiet and it tries to boss me around and tell me things that aren’t very helpful.
Which, of course, gets me even more confused.
After years of these experiences, and having to learn how to discern my own monkey mind from the voice of my intuition, I’ve learned that there are reasons why the intuition sometimes stays quiet.
(The irony is that this blog post is coming from my mind: Herman doesn’t like to give dictation; he’s a bit stubborn sometimes).
The how and when
We human beings are total control freaks. We like the comfort of knowing what’s coming next because it gives us a sense of security and certainty. We want to make a plan, Stan! If we know all the obstacles up front, and how the process will unfold exactly, it’s much easier to strategize for success.
However, we all know that it doesn’t work that way. None of us knows the future, and even if we did get a glimpse here and there it would only be a tiny picture of only a few possibilities: with our free will, endless paths can arise out of one decision, choice, or action.
So that is why we feel the pressure — there has to be a right choice, a right time, a right process, the right people. Otherwise, chaos can ensue. And few of us enjoy chaos.
But our intuition does not definitively tell us any of this information. We can only tell by the way we feel when we’re moving into the next step: does this step feel good? Or does it feel bad?
The “how” unfolds as we take these steps, and as we alter our decisions and choices based upon those steps. The “when” unfolds over time: if there’s an intention to create or achieve something, it is a process that doesn’t come out of nowhere. It involves aligning with whatever you’re desiring and sometimes it’s a great big puzzle as to what adjustments need to be made and in what order.
Half the fun is in experimenting and diving into the flow of change, without being too concerned as to how and when things unfold. But if we hold on too tight to needing control of the process, we can unwittingly dampen down the voice of our intuition, which wants you to learn how to trust and enjoy the process.
Basically, your intuition is a maximum chill-type tour guide. She won’t give in to your micromanaging tourist who is afraid of disaster or getting lost.Your intuition is a chilled out tour guide who won't give in to your fears of getting lost.Click To Tweet
You can spend your entire trip quabbling back and forth, missing all the great sights, or you can go at it alone — but you may find you need an “insider” (pun intended) to smooth the path and translate the language. Instead, tell your tour guide what thrills you, what compels you, and what you love. Then trust that guide to take you around town and give you an adventure you’ll remember.
We also love to know the bigger picture behind things: like actors, we keep asking ourselves, “What’s my motivation?” “Why is this happening to this character?” “Why don’t I get to play the ingenue/hero in my own story?”
We don’t like to do things for no reason. If there isn’t going to be an outcome we want, or if it doesn’t serve a purpose that makes sense to us, we would prefer to avoid it.
We also don’t like things happening to us without knowing why. We are not comfortable with mere correlation; we have to find out the causation.
Intuition can tell us the “why,” but only if we really tune into its quiet knowing and drop everything we think about who we are.
How many of us can really do that?
Our minds are influenced by the beliefs, roles, and expectations which are given to us by other people (our families, friends, peers, bosses, etc.) and by our wider environments (societies, systems, media, places).
Our minds say, “This specific thing should (or should not) be happening because this is what I’m identifying with right now.”
But those identifications are really just beliefs that aren’t necessarily true. The reasons why something is happening or not happening in your life is to show you exactly what you’re identifying with and allowing you to keep that identification or reject it.
For example, imagine you’re a wealthy professional and you somehow lost your job, leaving you broke. Your identification with being rich and a professional, or any of the other roles you play in your life, will influence how you react to the loss and what decisions or choices you make next. If your intuition senses deep down that you really want to be an artist, then it could mean that the loss arose in order to remind you of that. Or not. It really depends on what you know about yourself deep in your core.
It’s really difficult to cut through the layers of what we think is the “why” to find out what the actual “why” is. And sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a “why,” especially one that appears to be fair or reasonable.
When we can’t get to the “why” through the mind, we’re left with a lot of uncertainty.
What if we’re looking at the “why” of a certain action, but it’s only one action on the path along with several hundred more?
What if there was this great, big, higher purpose in taking a certain path, but along that path were certain challenges and negative things happening to serve the purpose but which felt absolutely horrible to go through (e.g. trauma or loss or failure)? Would we still use our free will to take that path, or would we avoid it, hoping that there’s a more preferable and easier path out there somewhere?
What if there’s no great big “why” to a choice? What if it’s just an experience we have? If there’s no big meaning to build our motivation, do we just stop where we are or do we continue to move forward and change anyway?
And what if we’re forced to respond to someone else’s actions or choices which are based on their own “whys” and which don’t fit with ours?
The “why” can be so complex, we often have to move forward even without consciously knowing what it is.
There aren’t any guarantees in life. Therefore, we all have to learn along the way about success and failure; about getting what we want and getting what we don’t want; about learning what makes us feel really good, and learning what makes us feel really horrible.
We operate in a system of contrasts. We can’t know what feeling great and being successful looks like without comparing it to the opposite. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to label those states as such; they would just “be” and there would be no meaning or benefit to them.
But when we apply meaning and comparison to things, we favour those things we deem “good” and want to avoid those things we deem “bad.”
So, much of the time, we’re operating without knowing what the outcome will be: this is exciting and terrifying at the same time.
This kind of uncertainty requires a lot of vulnerability and courage. And I kind of think that this is exactly why we can’t know an outcome ahead of time.
In learning to be vulnerable and brave at the same time, we learn how to trust ourselves, even if there is a risk that things might go horribly wrong.
If we knew ahead of time that something would fail, we would never have the opportunity to be vulnerable; courage wouldn’t be needed. Because we just wouldn’t do it.
If we knew ahead of time that something would be successful, the same applies: it doesn’t take any vulnerability or courage to step into something that’s guaranteed to be great.
Whether it’s taking a risk in our relationships, in our work, in our art, in expressing ourselves, we all must face the uncertainty of the outcome, while realizing the value of doing it anyway.
What to do when your intuition is silent
1. Just feel.
When your intuition is silent, it’s important to become still and just feel.
When we try to make decisions and choices before we process how we’re really feeling, it becomes a form of bypassing. The choices and decisions then become reactions which are focused on doing anything to relieve pain and get love or joy — but if we don’t look at the emotions under them, these reactions can be unhealthy and unhelpful, or they just won’t provide the momentum we need to move forward in a positive way.
If you don’t know how to proceed, or you suspect that you’re wanting change simply because you don’t like how you feel about your life right now, then that is a cue for you to really investigate those feelings. They need tons of empathy and love in order to feel heard and understood.
2. Look at the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from progressing.
Nothing will bring up our limiting beliefs like taking action towards what we want in life. When we desire or want something, we have to clear a path for it to manifest; if there are any obstacles, they will slow us down or prevent us from getting to the destination.
The desire is the gas and the limiting beliefs are the brakes. We can’t step on both at the same time: we’ll just lurch back and forth all over the place.
Limiting beliefs that arise when we’re trying to move forward and meet our desires can be beliefs like:
I need to be in control of this process
I need to have certainty first
I’m afraid of failure
I’m not worthy of success
I’m not good enough
I don’t want to be seen as being different
I shouldn’t want this
Any kind of limiting belief that arises when we’re trying to move forward is coming up because it needs to be acknowledged and healed. If one of these come up for you, it’s important to pay attention to it. You can look at it on your own, or with help from a therapist or coach. And you might find that when one comes up and is released, another one might take its place. Let yourself move through this healing process without trying to rush or control it.
3. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do next?”
When I get into analytic-anxiety mode, I tell myself that I don’t have to figure out everything right now. I just have to figure out what I want to do next.
Notice I said “what I want to do,” not “what I need to do.”
A lot of our needs aren’t dictated by our wants. We need to do a lot of things we don’t necessarily want to do. However, these needs are really just what we think we need in order to fit in or be accepted, or to comply with the rules and regulations set out for us. These are the “shoulds” of life: “I should do more” “I should have more” “I should reach this goal.”
We comply with these needs because we want a more comfortable and socially acceptable life; but by choosing these, we deny our wants — especially if they conflict with what we think we should do.
If you’re so focused on what you think you need to do and it is in contrast to what you want to do, your intuition will let you know, because it will feel like resistance. You might not be able to move forward smoothly, or your progress may be impeded. It will feel bad to you, even though logically you think it is something you should do.
So just ask yourself what you want to do next, and if it feels good, move towards it. You don’t have to do it all at once, or throw away your entire life and start fresh. Just do the next thing that feels better.
4. Recognize that you don’t have to figure it all out beforehand.
I’m the kind of person who goes nuts trying to figure out the entire strategy before I take the first step. I imagine all the possible permutations of each decision, and write multiple pro and con lists. I think about the absolute worst case scenario and what I would do if that were to happen.
These can be helpful at times, but they can also hold me back from actually doing something. I get that analysis-paralysis and the overwhelm often threatens me so much that I just go into avoidance mode and tell myself to just forget it.
And then I end up doing nothing.
Even when I do think I have it all figured out and strategized, I often find that a piece of the puzzle doesn’t work out the way I think it would. So I have to pivot and change things up.
Looking back, the process never turned out exactly the way the plan projected it would, so I wasted a lot of time.
I’m not saying that you need to drop the plan, or advising that you not consider any of the potential consequences. Just don’t hold on too tight to them, and allow for the creative process in life to unfold gradually.
5. Lean into allowing.
When we’re so focused on “doing,” we forget that sometimes the best things that come into our lives just happen — we don’t necessarily have to work hard to achieve them.
I remember getting a job that I didn’t ever apply for — someone recommended me and I was hired without having to go after it myself. That job ended up introducing me to several of my absolute best friends in life.
We will get opportunities and chances that we can’t even imagine coming our way; we couldn’t plan for them if we tried.
When you set an intention to attract something into your life that helps you feel a certain way (joy, enthusiasm, excited, happy, secure), you have to be able to allow it to come to you in its own time, when you’re ready.
You deserve great things, and if you believe that you’re worthy of them and that you can have them, they will arrive eventually. And isn’t it nice to get a surprise from time to time?
Leave a comment and share your wisdom with us. What happens when your intuition is quiet and you’re feeling uncertain? How do you move forward, even during times of uncertainty?
Keep shining the insight light,