A quick thought on Intuition

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gutfeelingsignI have been thinking about intuition lately.  You know, that gut feeling.  I describe mine as the feeling that raises my heart-rate a little bit and is trying to tell me something.  When I ignore it, or purposefully push it aside, it quickly becomes an “icky” feeling, much like the feeling of guilt.  For me, atleast.

I have been trying to listen to my gut instinct lately, whether it be on a large or small scale.  I am trying to fine-tune this God-given skill so that I can use it for the intended purpose, which is to keep me out of danger and uncomfortable situations, or perhaps to know when Wendy’s is having a special.  Oh wait….no, no that’s not intuition.

The dictionary defines intuition as “the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition”.  I think that as we grow, we are taught to rationalize, and then make decisions based on our minds and our reasoning.  However, intuition is based on feeling.  I think that I have ignored my intuition and focused on reason for so long, that I need to reacquaint myself with my intuition in order to learn what the feelings mean.

It’s true that there are situations where I may feel nervous or scared.  For example, before a flight I may start to worry about the plane crashing.  I think, “What if now is the moment I make that decision to not get on the plane?  The place will be in a nose-dive and I will be thinking: Shucks.  I was sitting right there outside the Which Wich and knew this would happen.”  Or, while at the beach I feel a fear to not swim because sometimes, very rarely (but horrifically), people are bitten by sharks.  These are situations where I tell myself rationalization is ok – I have clearly begun to be irrational so I have to talk myself down.  Plus, I have a superhero complex (that’s another blog post for another time) that makes me inclined to believe that I could survive a plane crash by positioning my body in just the right way.  I also think that God would save me from a shark attack with a pack of dolphins (again…we’re going deeper into my psyche than necessary at this point).  Those are examples of anxiety.  Intuition, however, is that gnawing feeling in my gut that something bad is going to happen.  I can’t perfectly describe what doesn’t feel right, I just know that it doesn’t.

Here is a time when my intuition was trying to communicate with me and I ignored it: I was driving home from a party in college.  I was living in a new apartment in the slightly shady part of town.  It was 5am.  It was dark.  I remember pulling into the parking lot of the complex and thinking how strange it was that there was not one person outside their apartment.  There was always somebody coming or going, or outside smoking.  I got a weird feeling, but I was so tired, I ignored it, glad to be home to my bed.  I had my guard down, got out of the car, flipped the lock and shut the door.  I turned around with my head down to go to the apartment and I walked right into a man’s chest.  I was so startled that I just stood there.  He asked for money and I had $5 so I gave it to him.  I was lucky that he took the money and left.  I am lucky I had money – I never have cash on me.  I hope that if I hadn’t had cash and told him that, that he would’ve believed me.  He was clearly coming off of a high, so I don’t know how rational he would’ve been.  Let’s just leave it at that I was lucky (and that what my dad always told me is true: Nothing good happens after midnight…well, that’s mostly true).

The point – my intuition was telling me to be alert.  I actually thought, “That’s really weird that nobody is outside.”  When your intuition is trying to tell you something, listen to it.  We have the ability to sense without seeing for a reason – survival!  We are animals at our core, just trying to survive.

So, that is my thought for now.  I will continue to hone my intuitive skills and differentiate between anxiety and intuition.  It is quite interesting, really.  Try it!  And if anyone develops a sixth sense for deals at Wendy’s, let me know.

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…I would encourage her to step outside of her comfort zone!

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I started to go through an old notebook this morning and came across a list I made of things I wanted to do that were outside of my comfort zone.  Since I moved to a new city (and country, for that matter) after marrying my husband, Rick, everything is a new experience.  Some I welcomed, and some I shied away from for too long.  I realized this summer that we were approaching our second anniversary, which made me look at what I had and hadn’t accomplished for myself in a new place in that time.  I made a goal to do one thing that was new, either with someone else or by myself, each week.  I hoped that it would help me learn more about my surroundings and meet new people.  I really haven’t made many friends outside of our family, and I was hoping that by doing new things I would meet new people.

Side note: Have you ever moved somewhere new and realized that trying to make friends as an adult is much like dating?  For example: I met someone at a bar, a friend of a friend, and we had such a great time talking and hanging out.  Then I found myself panicking: how do I ask her for her number?  What if she doesn’t want to hang out?  She probably has enough friends already, why would she want another?  Then, say I do ask for her number in my most care-free way and she gives it to me.  When is it appropriate to call?  Should I even call, or just send a text?  Do I ask her to hang out on our own, or must I invite the friend that introduced us?  Would she be more comfortable in a group setting?  I haven’t been in the dating scene for five years yet I feel all of the same anxieties that I used to feel!  (I am laughing as I write this because it all sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true!)  Making friends is hard!  I am an outgoing person, but I have become more introverted with each year and a little more shy.  I had plenty of friends growing up, but making friends when you’re a child seems so much simpler (mostly because our parents are the ones who really dictate plans with our new friends).  I also lived in the same place my whole life and had friends in college who were in my kindergarten class years before, so I really didn’t have to strive to meet new people in college.  I did have new college friends who were awesome, but I always had my really fun childhood friends, too, which was a safety blanket, I guess.  So, I haven’t made as many new friends as I was hoping by this point, but I am still working on it…but I digress.

So, when I found the list of goals I had made this summer, I read the list over and was pleasantly surprised that I had done five of the things on the list without really consciously thinking about them.  I went to a hot yoga class by myself (several now, in fact), I have explored downtown where I live (by myself and with others), I started a book club (we are on our second book), I attended a new church (several!), and I have explored Toronto more (after all, it’s only an hour train ride and big cities are so cool!).  The feeling of excitement and pride for having done some of the things that I was putting off because of fear or nerves still floods me as I re-read the list and see check-marks next to those five things.  I have to say, that with fall in full-force now (the leaves have almost all fallen to the ground, it has been raining for weeks, and I have switched from a light jacket to my down-jacket), it is nice to have something to brighten my day and make me feel good about myself.

There are still things on the list that I would like to do.  I think I will re-write them and add to it, and this time I will put the list where I can see it daily.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe I should tuck it away again so that when I find it in a few months I can check off lots of items.  Perhaps if it was in front of me everyday I would feel like it was daunting because I would see all of the things that are outside of my comfort zone; maybe I should pick one goal and display it until I do it then put up a new one.  I don’t know.  Whatever I decide, I just hope to keep doing new things and adding check marks to my list.  I do feel much more confident in my surroundings and I don’t feel lost for ideas anymore when friends and family come to visit.  I actually know a few things around town to do!  And, dare I say, I have made some new friends!  I even got two phone numbers last night :o)  Now, should I text or call…ha ha!

Yes it is scary acknowledging the things that make us uncomfortable (writing the list).  Yes, sometimes you have to be willing to try the things on your own and hope for the best (for me, a GPS was incredibly helpful!).  Take it from me, it is worth it.  The anxiety that I had to explore new places on my own, or step into a yoga class by myself and sit in (gasp!) the front row, seem so small now since I have actually done these things.

Sometimes we have to nudge ourselves off of the “cliff” to realize that we were only standing on a curb.  So make a list for yourself.  What is something you want to do, but fear or anxiety has been holding you back?  Simply putting that thing in writing is the first step toward doing it.  Life is short, so we should take advantage of the time we have by not letting nerves run our lives.  Step outside of your comfort zone and relish in all that new experiences have to offer you.  You might just have fun!