How do you know when you know? Most of us do beautifully with making choices when we’re in a state of flow, surfing a wave of inspiration and banking our turns with the benefit of an inexplicable sense of “knowing” that we’ve made the right choice in that moment.
When there’s a really important or big decision to make, it can be harder to know if you are getting an intuition around it. One reason is because we hold our big decisions with a charge around them and the charge (like static electricity) seems to attract our unconscious worries and hungers. All of this material is like noise that drowns out the intuitive signal.
Process 1: Reduce the Charge. If you can, begin to imagine your decision as a fork in the road. There are many forks, and indeed many roads in this life, this just happens to be one of them. Deliberately take away the drama, the desperation, the life-or-death hugeness of it all. You are the point of power in this moment, not the decision.
Process 2: Reduce the Variables: Instead of trying to pick one answer out of all the nuances in the universe, select two to four options. Using your intuitive signal, determine which of those options is the best for you. If you want to move to another state, pick four locations that would be possibilities and ask if Colorado is better than Idaho, Florida better than Virginia. When you are done with this, you still don’t have to do anything, but you will have gotten a bead on the best choice among those four things. Students of intuition tend to become extremely accurate and adept at selecting the answer from four choices, because when they “try on” each answer they can sense which one is true. This is sometimes called a forced choice exercise, and it is one of the best and easiest ways to get intuition to kick in.
Process 3: Imagine Your Future: Have you ever made a phone call, sent an email, purchased something, and then realized in a flash that you’d made a mistake and were going to regret it? One reason for that swift anticipatory regret is because once we “let go” and make a decision, we seem to intuitively bounce off the future related to that decision, and “ping” it, returning with the flavor of events yet to come. You can simulate this effect by imagining your future. What happens after you decide to move? How do you feel? Does it flow or do you feel sticky, blocked and stuck? Imagine telling your friends and asking them to help you pack. Notice what information starts to roll back to you off of that imagined future scenario. Although these impressions may be subtle, watered-down, and imperfect, they do tend to be very strongly related to the “possible” future you are examining. Make note of your impressions and repeat your test when you can be relaxed and alone, and particularly when you are not feeling pressured to make a decision.
Process 4: Talk to the Part of You That Already Knows: Whatever the question you have, there is a part of you that already knows the answer. When we feel pressured, manipulated, confused and conflicted, or when we think everything depends on “getting this right,” we usually have repeated internal conversations with our Chancellor of Worry, or the Ambassador of Dire Consequences. These parts of us have endless objections and know exactly the horror to brandish that never fails to keep things just as they are. Whether it is a picture of you Losing Everything, Dying Alone, or Never Finding Someone to Love, this particular nightmarish specter tends to shut down your process every time.
When trying to get clear on what will work, you need to hear from the part of you that already knows the answer. Just sit quietly and say: “I want to communicate with the part of myself that already knows the answer. Give me a signal now about this question.” (Then pose your question). Record whatever you experience, without judgment. If you like, repeat this gentle process when you are doing mundane tasks, when you are outside walking in nature, when you are in the shower or bath. You should note that there are similar responses, regardless of when you ask or how you phrase the question. Over several repetitions, you will get a growing sense of certainty and peace around your question. Repetition is one way to validate intuitive impressions. If you bounce all over the place, you aren’t quite talking with the part of you that knows. If you get similar impressions, regardless of whether they seem logical or if they are what you wanted to hear, then you are getting to the core of things.
These four processes, reducing the charge, reducing the variables, imagining the future, and talking to the part of you that knows are some that have worked extremely well over the past 20 years for me and for my students. Good luck with them – I’d love to hear if this helps you.