Imagine you had access to a secret that showed you the best decisions to make in every area of your life. This secret would help you decide if you should remain at your current job, if you should continue seeing the person you are dating, and if you should move to a different city. It would keep you away from potentially unsafe situations. It would help you discover if you needed to change something in the way you parent or conduct relationships. It would give you the answers to questions you’ve been struggling with for a long time.
Everyone can access this secret. The problem is that most people don’t know how to do it.
This secret is called intuition.
What is intuition?
Intuition is not prophecy. It cannot predict the future or tell you what’s going to happen. Intuition is when your mind provides the absolute best decision you can make in that moment, based on all that you know, have experienced, have heard, have read, have observed, and have learned in your life until now. It is your brain’s way of instantly applying all it knows to whatever question lies before you.
Allow me to share some steps that will help you access this secret.
Step 1: Formulate your question.
Your question must be simple, black and white, without any ambiguity, and answerable with a yes or a no. For example: Should I accept this job…yes or no? Should I continue this relationship…yes or no? Should I avoid going to that place…yes or no? Should I make dinner before I run errands…yes or no?
You will hear many “voices” respond when you ask yourself these questions. There may be emotional voices, indecisive voices, critical voices, etc., each one pointing you in a different direction. You need to identify the intuitive voice among them.
Step 2: Identify your intuitive voice.
There are three characteristics of intuition that are always present when your intuitive voice is speaking. Be aware of them and you will easily identify your intuitive voice. If these characteristics aren’t present, it’s not your intuition speaking.
a. Your intuitive voice is always crystal clear. It doesn’t say, “I should probably…” or “Maybe…” or “What if…” It responds with “yes” or “no” without any ambiguity whatsoever. Be aware that although your intuitive voice is decisive, your fear or anxiety about the decision can immediately create indecisiveness. That’s normal. Just recognize that you are no longer listening to your intuitive voice at that point. It has already spoken.
b. Your intuitive voice is always calm. It does not respond with fear, anxiety, joy, excitement, or anger. It serenely answers “yes” or “no” to your question without any emotion. Listen to that calm voice. Be aware that immediately following your intuitive voice’s response, you will often hear many voices responding with great emotion. This means that the intuitive answer generated high levels of emotion. You don’t have to like the answer. Just try to listen to the calm voice.
c. Your intuitive voice is always immediate. It will respond within five to seven seconds of you asking yourself about the issue. If you find yourself pondering the question for longer than seven seconds, it is no longer your intuitive voice speaking. This is common and occurs when you aren’t comfortable with what your intuitive voice is saying. Your defense mechanisms kick in, and your mind tries to protect you from what your intuition is saying. You immediately start analyzing and questioning whether it’s a good decision.
Step 3: Address the thoughts and feelings that come along with your intuitive answer.
You may feel excited and ready to move forward with the decision. You may feel terrified and frozen. Work through your emotions as best you can. Try to keep in mind that since your intuition is giving you the best possible decision, you will almost certainly be okay at the end of the day, even if your emotions and fears seem overwhelming.
This is the secret to using your intuition. Formulate the question, listen to the calm, clear, and immediate voice, and deal with whatever comes up (if anything) in reaction to the answer.
You can use this with any situation at any time. From test taking to relationships, from unsafe situations to jobs, intuition gives you the best possible decision you could ever make. Although intuition is not prophecy, it gives you the absolute best decision you can make. Trust it completely.
Here are some examples of how to use intuition:
Let’s say you’re dating someone and you’re unsure if you should continue. The first step is to formulate the question, using the above guidelines: “Should I continue seeing this person…yes or no?” The second step is to listen to the intuitive voice that responds in a calm, clear, and immediate manner. The answer may evoke fear or pain. The third step is to deal with those emotions so you can move forward, even if it’s difficult.
Here’s another example. You have a friend who may be a negative influence on you and you’re wondering if you should end the relationship. The first step is to formulate the question: “Should I end this relationship…yes or no?” The second step is to listen to the voice that responds in a calm, clear, and immediate manner. You may like the answer and it will be easy to move forward with it. If you’re upset with the answer or your mind tries to confuse you, pause and listen to your intuitive voice. Once you identify it, you will see that the emotions are being evoked by your answer, even though it’s the best answer. The third step is to deal with those emotions so you can move forward, even if it’s difficult.
Here are a few common questions about listening to your intuition:
* Do I always have to listen to my intuition?
You can certainly override your intuition and not follow it. It may be difficult or painful to move forward with what your intuition is telling you. You don’t have to like what it says. However, keep in mind that intuition gives you the absolute best decision you can make in that moment, based on all that you know now. Even if you choose to ignore it, it makes sense to at least know what it says.
* What should I do if I don’t get a quick, intuitive answer when I ask my question?
Since the intuitive response is always immediate, not getting an answer at all means that your intuition answered the question, but the answer got lost in the emotional turmoil in your mind once you heard it. If you’re having trouble identifying your intuitive voice, ask yourself the following question: “If I was guaranteed that my life would work out perfectly if I listened to my intuition, what would it tell me to do?” Sometimes this tactic helps reduce the chaos and anxiety surrounding your intuitive voice long enough for you to hear what it’s saying.
* When shouldn’t I use my intuition to decide something?
You should always use your intuition when making decisions. However, sometimes you may not have enough information to make a good decision. For example, if you’re trying to decide between two job offers and you don’t know enough about one of them, your intuition can’t give you the information that you lack. You’ll need to find out more information to make your decision. But don’t worry, your intuition will let you know that. As you ask yourself which job to take, you’ll hear a calm, clear voice that instantly responds, “I can’t decide yet because I am missing crucial information.”
* How do I know that my intuition will respond in my best interest?
Intuition is your mind taking all it knows and applying it to your question. If the voice is calm, clear, and immediate, you can trust it completely. If the voice is emotional or is unclear, it’s not your intuitive voice speaking and may lead you in the wrong direction.
* How do I know if it’s my intuition speaking or if I’m trying to convince myself?
To answer this, put it to the test using the above steps. Formulate the question: “Am I just convincing myself…yes or no?” Listen to the calm, clear, and immediate voice. It will tell you the truth.
* What if my intuition tells me to do something selfish?
It may do that. It’s giving you the best possible answer, and in that moment, the best thing may be to focus on yourself. As we know, “chayecha kodmin, your own life comes first.” Your intuition is letting you know that this is best for you right now, and you may need the nap or have someone else do the carpool. As you learn to trust your intuitive voice, you will see with greater clarity that it always guides you in the ultimate best direction.
* What if I’m afraid to trust my intuitive voice?
Many people are afraid to trust it. This fear comes from years of facing overwhelming voices when having to make a decision. You may have listened to an emotional voice or an unclear voice and it led to a poor result, reinforcing your fear of trusting your intuition. However, as you learn to identify and listen to your calm, clear, and immediate intuitive voice, you will find that it is always the best decision, even if it’s not the easiest decision.
Make the commitment to practice listening to intuition and you will see its benefits for yourself.
Rabbi Dovid Hochberg, LCSW-C, is the director of the Maryland Counseling Network. A renowned psychotherapist, he has published and lectured extensively on mental health, marriage, parenting, and relationship issues and is the author of The Jewish Teen’s Survival Guide. He can be reached at 443.677.8561 or at email@example.com.