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Go with Your Gut

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Rebecca Davis
Redbook Magazine Logo
How to Tune in to Your Intuition

Sometimes it's impossible to explain how, but you just know: A friend isn't telling the whole truth; you should take that vacation in March, not April; you'd be happier at job A than job B. Call it a premonition, an instinct, a feeling -- whatever you label it, it's your intuition talking. And when that little voice abandons you it can be confusing, frustrating, even scary. Lynn Robinson, author of Divine Intuition: Your Guide to Creating a Life You Love, reveals how to tap into -- and trust -- the gut you've got. Intuition is like your internal GPS system, says Robinson; once you know where you want to go, it will show you how to get there.

1. Quiet your mind to hear your true inner voice.
We rarely get the insight we want right when we want it. When you're stressed and frantic, other needling voices (your husband's, your mom's) drown out your own -- and you're likely to be sidetracked by nagging "shoulds" instead of focused on what you truly want. You'll be more open to clarity at downtimes than you are in the heat of the moment, so reclaim peace with daily breaks to retreat inward: Go for a walk, or close your door for five minutes to relax and think. Drawing on your intuition regularly will help you maintain the calm and clarity to shush the naysayers and the "shoulds."

2. Ask your intuition for answers -- and start acting on them.
Learn to trust your instinct on important issues by giving it a whirl with lower-risk ones. Don't just barrel through your daily decisions: Give them your full focus. Instead of asking yourself, What's for dinner? try, What would be most satisfying for dinner? Then, move on to deeper concerns: How can I help my daughter to be less shy? Would I be happier living closer to my family? Keep these questions in the back of your mind and when a feeling comes to you, jot it down. Once you're used to asking for guidance, follow it -- one baby step at a time. "People get scared of intuition because it leads to change," says Robinson. But change doesn't have to be immediate. If you get the feeling it's time to switch jobs, don't just up and quit -- look at or update your résumé instead.

3. Learn what intuition really feels like.
Intuition by definition is quick-and-ready insight, but it's different from the knee-jerk reactions we often have out of fear, anger, or sadness. Say a new acquaintance asks you to go with her for coffee and you immediately decline. That's probably not your intuition saying, "You don't really like her," but rather your fear asking, "What if she doesn't like you?" The next time you're in this situation, buy yourself some time by checking your schedule or just taking a rain check. Then, ask your intuition if this person could become a new friend.

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