When you have grown up in a dysfunctional family, you will in many cases be codependent, which means you have been raised to ignore your own feelings, needs and wants, to not trust your own perception, to value other peoples opinion more than your own, to ignore bad behaviour and red flags and to be a people pleaser.
If you are codependent, it’s more difficult for you than for people who grew up in healthy families, to access your intuition, however, it’s not impossible. But where do you start?
Let’s look at the word intuition. What does it even mean?
Intuition is defined as the ability to make decisions based on instinct, feelings and past experiences without involving rational, analytical thought processes.
People who use their intuition don’t have all the evidence, facts or information at hand and they don’t have endless time to sit down and think things through thoroughly.
You might get the impression that quick, intuitive decisions are inferior to logical, conscious, well thought through decisions, but the opposite is often the case.
Studies have proven that especially in complex situations intuitive decisions often get better results than rational ones.
The reason for this is that the subconscious mind can work with and evaluate much more pieces of information than the conscious mind can in the same amount of time.
Intuition has saved our species from extinction.
When there’s a wolf pack coming closer to your cave you want to know about it long time before it actually appears and starts munching on your kids.
My own mother once saved my baby brother from getting killed by three-year-old me through her intuition. She was busy cooking when I was playing in the room next door with the living doll that was my few months old brother.
At some point, I was overcome by evil and decided I needed to get rid of the annoying, drooling little creature that was stealing all the attention from my parents.
So I stuffed him into a carrier bag, where his face was covered with clear plastic. And then I closed the bag pretty much air tight.
At that exact moment my mother came running into the room, exclaiming: “Noooo, Rebecca what are you doing? He’s gonna suffocate!” and freed my brother just in time.
How did she know? She had no prove what I was up to. Then why was she so alert? I think it was her intuition that had warned her.
Here are two examples how my own intuition has helped me to make important decisions:
Example #1: Stalked in the woods
I was in my early twenties and attending university and I had spent all day studying for an upcoming exam. It was summer and at around six o’clock in the evening, when it was still bright outside, I decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air after having spent the whole day indoors.
It was warm and quiet outside, hardly any traffic, as I made my way down the road to get to the small forest close by. When I came to the entry of the forest I noticed a car that was parked approximately thirty metres away, door slightly open and motor running. It looked as if the man inside was waiting for someone.
I stopped paying attention to him and entered the cool and quiet forest. I had been walking perhaps fifty metres when I heard the muted sound of a car door closing. At that moment I instinctively knew the guy in the car was coming after me!
I decided to turn immediately instead of going deeper into the forest. I had to overcome my fear because normally I would have run away from danger and not walked right into its arms. But my intuition told me that I should stay as close to the road as possible.
The guy had entered the forest by now and was walking towards me. His walk was very clumsy and unsteady, it reminded me of a robot or puppet. Very strange.
When there were only a few metres between us he opened the zipper of his jeans and started uhm … masturbating right in front of me.
“Hey, do you wanna f***?” he shouted at me.
“If you touch me I’m gonna kick your a**”, I shouted right back at him, adrenaline pumping through my veins.
My knees were shaking and I nearly fainted, but I pulled myself together and continued walking towards the street as calm and collected as possible. He also continued his walk deeper into the woods.
A female jogger entered the forest and I stopped her, warning her about the guy. She was a student, too, and invited me into her flat share to call the police. The whole thing ended in front of the court because I gave the police the number of his license plate and pressed charges.
If you would ask me today how I knew that I had to turn and go back to the road, despite my fear to face the man who was following me, I can’t tell you. I can only say that I was running on auto-pilot and did what I felt urged to do without second guessing myself.
What would have happened if I had listened to my fear and walked further into the woods? Only God knows. But it’s likely that he would have been able to outrun me since I have never been particularly athletic and a man like this isn’t the kind of person any woman wants to be alone with in a desolate forest.
Example #2: In need of a good lawyer
I was once fired from my job and my sneaky employer tried to convince me that it was all my fault. I, however, knew that I had kept all the rules and started researching how I could defend myself.
I found out that I probably couldn’t get my job back, but that I should have at least received a severance payment. Of course, my employer wouldn’t give it to me deliberately, therefore I had to contact a lawyer.
This was a huge thing for me because I had only once contacted a lawyer before and that ended with me paying a big consultation fee only to hear that my case didn’t stand a chance! I knew this whole issue was quite complex and if I wasn’t careful I could end up wasting a lot of money.
I, therefore, asked God for guidance and entered “lawyer” and the name of my city into Google. A handful of suitable results came up and I visited each lawyers website to find out if he was a good fit for me.
I was quickly overwhelmed by all the information and knew I needed a different approach. So I intentionally started to make use of my intuition.
I closed my eyes for a couple of minutes, concentrated on my breath and relaxed and when I opened them I looked at the websites, not rationally analyzing them, but trying to understand how the web design, the photos and the written information made me feel.
I proceeded via exclusion principle. All lawyers besides one had to go because I didn’t like the way they presented themselves. One seemed quite proud of his elite background, the other came across like a bon vivant and with the rest other things were wrong.
But one of the lawyers had very sincere eyes. His website was plain and humble and he seemed trustworthy to me. So I contacted him. At our appointment he gave me incredibly valuable, honest and thorough advice.
I paid him 70 bucks, applied his strategy and got a settlement from my employer worth 2,000 dollars before taxes. I hadn’t been in the company very long, therefore my settlement wasn’t huge. However, I was very pleased with the sum, because it was more than what I had expected.
How does your intuition speak to you?
Your intuition can speak in many ways to you, for example through inner images or voices, through dreams, a strong urge to do something or an uneasy feeling.
So which simple methods can you apply to gain access to your intuition?
1. Give your mind a break
It’s very difficult to listen to your intuition when it’s noisy all around you or inside your mind. To calm your mind you can go for a walk in nature, do a 2 – 5 minute breathing exercise where you close your eyes and just focus on your breath.
You could also go for a nap, do some physical exercise, sit down and drink camomile, fennel or any other anti-stress tea, take a bath or shower or do monotonous housework like cleaning or folding laundry. Make sure that no loud TV or music is playing in the background. Soft, relaxing music is ok though.
2. Be present
The number of rapes where the victim has been distracted by her smartphone and didn’t see the attack coming has very much increased during the last years.
Intuition is all about gathering clues and information in your environment and processing it in split seconds. If you are sidetracked, your intuition can’t work properly and you become a very easy victim for all sorts of crimes.
So the prerequisite for a well-oiled intuition is presence and awareness of your surroundings.
During the day practice bringing yourself back into the present moment from time to time and consciously use your five senses sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
3. Observe your body functions
Pay attention to what’s going on in your body in a given situation. Do you have a strange feeling in your stomach? Do you experience a faster heartbeat than usual? Are you sweating? Are there goosebumps showing on your skin? How does it feel? Pleasant or unpleasant?
When you think about a certain thing or issue, do you feel expansive (= wide, open) or constricted (= tight, tense, cramped)? This will give you a clue for your decision processes.
Let’s say you are not sure if you should move to a certain place. Does the thought of living in this new place make you feel expansive or constricted? If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t move there.
Ask yourself these questions and write down what comes to your mind.
How do I feel about …?
What should I do about …?
What is the truth about …?
What do I know about …?
What do I NOT know about …?
Why do I feel angry/confused/sad/stuck?
The answers will give you a clue about how to deal with a certain situation and which decision to make.
Question: How much do you rely on your intuition? Did it ever protect you from danger? Please tell me in the comments!
Until next time,
[Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash.com]