An Insider’s Guide to Trusting Your Intuition

September 7, 2011

in Editor's Corner, You

trusting-our-intuitionWhen we talk about trust, we often approach it from an outside-in direction. We usually refer to trusting other people, companies, technologies, expertise, media, etc. But I’ve often found that our biggest challenge with trust is internal. It’s the ability or inability to trust ourselves.

Women, Intuition, and Trust

One of the things people generally associate with women is intuition. You’ll hear it said that women make better employees, parents, or friends because of a “woman’s intuition.” I’m going to go out a major freaking limb and challenge that thought (like I always do). The women I know and have known, including myself, tend to rely far less on our intuition than we get credit for. We gather all sorts of outside opinions before acting – almost as if to test our intuition against someone else’s reason. We second guess ourselves

all the time. Sometimes, we second guess ourselves into not acting when we should.

Case in point: How many women go against their guts, intuition – whatever you want to call it – and stay in abusive, deadly relationships? How many women go against their intuition and don’t ask for raises when they should? How many women that you know go against their intuition and do the exact opposite of what they want to do?

If women really have such great intuition – and the assumption with that thought is that we actually follow it – then why would we ever need a book called He’s Just Not that Into You? Come on, ladies. Let’s get real with ourselves just for a second. We may have intuitions, alright, but there’s no significance in having intuitions that are regularly ignored.

Why We Don’t Trust Our Guts

I’m a really gutsy person, so I’ve had a great outsider’s perspective with women and trust. I have a friend who endured two ridiculously long-term relationships with men who not only treated her very badly, but also made it absolutely clear that there was no real future. She and I had endless conversations over the years about both of those relationships.

What her situation boiled down to was the intersection of hope and fear, and it is the same in any situation where we feel our guts telling us to do one thing and yet we do another. We hope that the situation will turn out the way we want, but we fear the unknown, so strongly that we ignore our intuition. The fear actually creates a false hope that things will go our way. We say to ourselves, “What I don’t know could be worse than what I actually know,” even if what we actually know really sucks. The idea that it could possibly suck even worse keeps us from acting when we should.

In a nutshell, trusting our intuition requires courage. Courage doesn’t mean you cannot experience fear. It just means that you go with your gut despite your fear.

My Trek to Ultimate Trust in My Intuition

What does trusting your intuition look like? Well, the picture on the outside isn’t always pretty, but as the former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs said once,

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

For me, trusting my intuition has meant

  • Short-term relationships. I’ve kissed a lot of frogs, as many women have and do. The only difference between me and the next chick is that I don’t keep kissing them, hoping they will turn into princes. Besides, I don’t want to be married for seven years and then divorced. When I marry, I want to be married for life. This means trusting my intuition when it’s obvious it isn’t going to work out.
  • Rocky financial situations. In business, going with your gut could mean eating spaghetti for six months, or even six years (luckily for me I haven’t had to go quite that long). If you ask any of the founders of Fortune 500 companies, I’ll bet you that more than half of them were willing to do this, too. It’s very gutsy. But boy, does it create some good stories!
  • Confusing people. My life has been a path full of two and three way intersections. I find that I’m constantly given a choice between multiple roads. Your choices, like mine, could end up creating a zig-zag, instead of a smooth highway. Those who want the smooth road are not going to understand what you are doing, and that’s okay.
  • Being less popular right now. Going with your gut may mean forsaking popularity in the short term. I could have kept bizchickblogs in the little “blog about blogging” box it was in. It was comfy in that box. If I stayed in it, I could have made a lot more friends, and had tons of comments and retweets and whatnot. But my intuition said, “You can be bigger than this.” I believe that.

For you, going with your gut could mean something totally different. Just know that trusting your intuition is not always a path to instantaneous success, pleasure, or even the feeling that you’ve made the right choice. While it ultimately can bring happiness and clarity, it can also be a lonely, confusing road.

If we band together and start trusting our intuition more often and in bigger ways, we will become stronger as a unit, and able to be there for our sisters when they are struggling to trust their intuition, too. There is nothing better than being able to call up a strong girlfriend who has been in your shoes and can say with experience, “Everything is going to be alright.”

My hope for you is that you find the courage to do what you know you should do, even when the unknown is petrifying. Have faith, and don’t be afraid to lean on someone strong to help you through it.

Happy, happy September!

Tia

Image: kongsky

Tia Peterson October 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

@jackiewalker What I’ve found is that after I let my frog go, they go off and get married. LOL I like to think of myself as a primer then, simply preparing them to be the right guy for someone else!

jackiewalker October 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

I smiled when I read you’d kissed a lot of frogs, I reckon we kiss a lot of Princes, but they turn out to be frogs when we find that we don’t want them as our Prince. Our releasing them back to the wild allows them to be Princes again for the right Princess ;)

Evelyn Parham September 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

Hi Tia,

I really enjoyed this post.

Sometimes I second guess myself and I know I should always go with my ‘first mind.” I felt like you were speaking to me in this post. Why? I’m having some doubts about a few decisions that I have made, but I’m sticking with it and forging ahead. :)

I’m glad you took Biz Chick Blogs in this direction. We must always follow our intuition, no matter what.

Thanks for this much needed confirmation!

Tia Peterson September 11, 2011 at 12:19 am

@Red Kathy@MARLdblE Kathy – Your experience is incredible. I guess that’s why they call it amazing grace, huh? It’s terrible that you had to go through such sadness. And I know it’s really hard for women to leave a situation and venture out on their own with a small child. I’m really glad that you did; you wouldn’t be where you are if you hadn’t.

I know that sometimes I get mixed up about intuition – choosing between what I think God is telling me and what I think I am putting together on my own. That’s usually where prayer comes in. And this is why we’re lucky that we have a faith. Where we stop short, it keeps going.

Red Kathy September 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

Tia, @MARLdblE was nodding and I was cheering. Let me tell you, it is really tough to be scared and move forward at the same time. This is beautifully written and so hits home for me. I could write a book about surviving and moving forward. I believe intuition is God breathed.

Intuition: I made my ex husband change helmets with me at a red light. I woke up 5 days later. The nurses said if I didn’t have that helmet on I wouldn’t be here, tourniquet or not .

Before I was released from the hospital I learned the man who saved my life died along with his whole family. I never got the opportunity to thank him. I cried about this for lots of years afterwards too. It was hard to understand why I was here and they were not.

I was in a wheel chair for four months, not expected to walk again. This had no impact on my ex. Six more months passed, I was walking with a cane. I moved out with my 2 year old. My family was 2000 miles away. I was scared yes but I was alive. Once I left, I started listening to that intuitive voice very closely.

Yes I knew my ex would never change but I chose not to listen, to move 2000 miles away from my family to give him a chance to change. I even gave in and fixed the motorcycle hoping it would make a difference. I hope my story will be helpful to someone in doubt.

Tia, Thank you for listening and being a person who encourages faith and hope among women!

Tia Peterson September 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

@MARLdblE Absolutely. My faith is what provides a sound intuition for me, I believe. (We’ve had our faith talks so we’re on the same page!) I have found that I go against my intuition most often when I am afraid, and of course, fear is the opposite of love and I need to work hard at not acting out of fear. Fortunately for me I am not afraid very often! :)

On a related note, I am so grateful to have people like you in my life who are strong and believe in themselves. You’re an inspiration!

MARLdblE September 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Oooo Child! Did you bring it in this article or what?! I was nodding my head the whole time and can only echo your sentiments. I learned the hard way about trusting my intuition, because I’ve found almost every time I’ve gone against it, my intuitive hit was right. I will say, though, that it wasn’t just hard knocks that strengthen my trust in my own intuition – it was a spiritual thing too. My faith is an integral part of my life and who I am, and when I ignored that I lacked a sense of security when it came to my intuition. Now that I live my life more in tune with my spiritual needs, it’s easy to trust my intuition because it’s almost always affirmed (or not) by my spiritual guidance too. I bet that sounds woo-woo, but I’m so not woo-woo. I think I’m saying that having a strong foundation on which you build your confidence lends itself to trusting your intuition more easily.

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