How to Learn to Listen to and Follow Your Intuition

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Do you remember the first time you had a gut feeling about something? Probably not. It’s a natural-in-the-sense-that-you-don’t-always-acknowledge-it thing that happens; a this-is-just-how-it’s-supposed-to-be part of life we’ve all experienced time and time again. 

So here’s an easier question: Do you remember the last time you had a gut feeling about something? If you think about it I’m sure you can easily name ten instances over the past few days. “Take the next exit.” “Call mom.” “Don’t eat those leftovers.”

Or perhaps something like this has happened to you:

  • You have a feeling you need to switch the radio station, and right as it changes your grandpa’s favorite song starts playing. You’ve been missing him.
  • Something tells you you need to leave your job. You like your work, but there’s something you can’t shake that tells you to move on. Three months later, the company shuts down.
  • After much deliberation, you decide not to go to the store after all. Later, on the news, you see that traffic was terrible.
  • Picking up the phone, you randomly feel an urge to call an old friend only to find out they were just thinking about you, too.
  • You see an article on intuition and decide to click, just this once. You’re here now, so it seems you know your way at least a little bit already.

While the title of this article suggests otherwise, I’m both happy and sad to report there is no right way to learn how to listen to your intuition. It’s already part of you! An innate knowingness you can only unlock your way. As for the “following it” part…well, that’s the choice you get to make. Once you get the information you can take it or leave it.

There’s no right way to learn how to listen to your intuition, but there are certainly ways to learn how to listen more closely. Although leaning into your gut feelings won’t always lead to a big revelation, the little things are important. They add up.

There’s no right way to learn how to listen to your intuition, but there are certainly ways to learn how to listen more closely. Although leaning into your gut feelings won’t always lead to a big revelation, the little things are important. They add up.

According to psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, “Intuition is a form of unconscious intelligence that is as needed as conscious intelligence.” People can—and do—go through wild amounts of data and still decide to follow their intuition in the end. Kahlil Gibran puts it another, perhaps more poetic way: “When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.”

Here is some information. An intuition development toolkit, if you will. The “what you should know” that will hopefully land you closer to the beginning of “what you should sense.”

Take what resonates. Leave the rest. You (yes! you!) know what’s best.

When it comes to reading/watching/generally consuming…

If it makes you feel good, enjoy it. If it makes you feel bad, don’t. I know, I know—it’s easier said than done, but as addicting as those true crime podcasts are there may be a reason you feel a little icky after a binge. Stop the hate-following for good. Click out of the news once you know the necessities. Ignorance isn’t the goal, but neither is stressing yourself out. Find a happy medium and, when your gut says it’s enough, listen.

Read stories that inspire you. Research the random topics and questions that pop into your head. Listen to music and pay attention to the lyrics. Too general? I know. That’s the hard part of knowing yourself best. Here’s a more specific reading list to get you started. 

Consult *gasp* someone else.

I have gone to plenty of psychics, past life regressionists, mediums, tarot readers, reiki masters, and divinationists in my day. It’s my self-care splurge; I’ll go without a cut and color if I can get a word in with my deceased grandma instead.

The thing is, most of the time what I hear is something I already know. This is a fun (albeit sometimes spendy) affirmation opportunity. If you haven’t been completely lying to yourself (no sweat—we all do it sometimes), at the end of a session you’ll enjoy the confidence boost that comes with knowingness. Just don’t fall into the trap of relying solely on someone else to tell you what you need to hear. Trust yourself!

Try a physical tool.

Sometimes having a physical object to work with helps you ground yourself and get in the headspace for some very nonphysical work. If you want to go the stone route, intuitive and crystal expert Ashlyn Cahill recommends working with apophyllite, labradorite, and sodalite. You can meditate with these stones, hold them tightly while doing your magical thinking, or simply utilize them as a beautiful physical reminder to look inward.

With a pendulum in hand, you can ask a question and receive a yes or no answer depending on the direction the weight sways. You’ll know how you feel when the answer arrives; that feeling is the true response you need. If you’re interested, here’s a nice article on the topic to get you started.

How to Learn to Listen to and Follow Your Intuition | Wit & Delight
Photo by Sophie Vilensky

Tarot decks and oracle decks can also help decode situations and map out potential decisions. In my experience, when I need to follow my intuition, I’ll draw a card that says exactly that. It’s infuriating yet comforting, and again almost always what I already knew.

Some of my favorite decks can be found here and here, though you can never go wrong with a classic. While most decks come with a guidebook of sorts to understand your draws, I recommend Jessa Crispin’s The Creative Tarot for all your analysis—each card is paired with a few pieces of physical/musical/architectural art to help you better understand its message. Websites like Biddy Tarot also have free guides to each card that are only a Google away. Draw a simple 3-card spread: “mind, body, spirit” or “past, present, future.” Look up what the cards mean and apply, apply, apply!

(A note here: word has long been that you’re supposed to be gifted your first tarot deck. I’m in the camp that there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying yourself the present if need be.)

Plan a 1:1 with yourself—mind and spirit.

In the end, nothing is going to help more than paying attention to your physical and mental state. Tune everything else out. Honor your thoughts. Acknowledge both the butterflies and aches in your stomach. . . . You’ll get the message. You’ve been getting the message. Pay attention.

The point, the thesis, the best advice I can give. In the end, nothing is going to help more than paying attention to your physical and mental state. Tune everything else out. Honor your thoughts. Acknowledge both the butterflies and aches in your stomach, depending on the day.

Maybe it’ll happen through journaling, meditation, a nature walk, or therapy. Immediate post-cry clarity or a dream you keep having and never thought much of before.

You’ll get the message. You’ve been getting the message. Pay attention. Follow your own instructions and the rest shall fall into place.

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