3 Steps To Activate Your Intuition And Make Better Decisions

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

Go with your gut–a common piece of advice that encourages us to tap into our most primitive and powerful instincts.

Living in a world that is so driven by logical thought and careful deliberation means we’re constantly being forced to question our hunches.

We become prone to second-guessing ourselves and it is ever more challenging to tap into (and trust) our internal insight.

What does it mean to “trust your gut?” When is it appropriate to rely on instinct, and when is it not? Is there value in second-guessing decisions made based on instinctual feelings?

The “6th-sense” defined

Renee Trudeau, life coach and author of, “Nurturing the Soul of Your Family,” likens intuition to an internal GPS system. She says that most of us use our “internal knowingness” to make decisions every day–it just comes so naturally that we often don’t recognize when we use it.

Psychologists describe intuition as a synchronized mental assessment of past experiences, learned knowledge and current situational cues that results in the commonly-cited, gut feeling, or “sixth-sense.”

“Intuition is not as magical or mysterious as it sounds. It’s a mental tool that uses our perception of things that may not be otherwise obvious, such as someone’s facial expressions, pheromones, past behavior and ‘vibes,’ to give us an impression we could not get on a rational level,” says Tina Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of, “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.”

Finding a balance

The role of intuition in decision-making is much contested. Rational thought and the ability to override certain instinctual responses has played a significant role in the survival of the human race.

Why do we still carry the primal ability to make on-the-spot judgments?

Research has shown that trusting our sixth-sense may lead to more accurate decisions. A University of London study discovered that giving people more time to ponder responses to a series of visual perception questions caused them to perform worse overall than those who had to depend on their intuition.

“It’s a very good idea to pay attention to what intuition is telling you,” says Tessina. “It’s information from the part of the brain that processes the things beyond your conscious awareness.”

It’s essential to combine this unconscious activity with conscious reflection.

Tessina warns that relying intuition alone can lead you down the wrong path. Placing too much emphasis on gut feelings can make a person vulnerable to subliminal biases and wish-fulfillment desires.

However, too much logic can be just as bad as too little logic.

University of Southern California researchers examined the decision-making processes of people whose intuitive abilities were impaired by brain damage. They found that forcing a person to rely on rational thought alone could turn a simple decision into an hours-long logical analysis. This phenomenon is often referred to as “analysis paralysis.”

No matter the issue, making good decisions is all about learning how to strike the right balance between reason and intuition.

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Learning how to talk to your gut

Some people find it easy to access their intuition, communicating with their inner instincts like the life-long companions that they are. Others feel disconnected and incapable of engaging in an internal dialogue with their subconscious selves.

What can you do if your gut isn’t very gregarious?

Learn as much as you can: Particularly if you’re unused to trusting your instincts, Trudeau suggests bouncing any and all ideas off of someone whose opinion you value. “Often just talking a decision though out-loud with someone you trust, helps us arrive at the answer,” she says. To be able to engage in an informed discussion with a confidant, you must first fully understand the issues surrounding whatever decision you need to make. The well-worn advice of making the best decision you can with the information you have speaks to the benefit of gathering as much information about a topic as possible.

Listen to your body: An essential step in harnessing your inner instincts is to be able to, as Trudeau says, “Move out of your head and into your heart.” Different strategies work for different people. Some people might find that going for a jog helps clear their mind and allow their intuition to surface. Others may need to sit quietly with themselves, turning their awareness inside using meditation and breathing exercises.

Stop second-guessing yourself:“Second-guessing won’t do anything but paralyze you,” Tessina declares. If you become preoccupied by the “bad” decisions you’ve made in the past, it will just make it that much harder to move on and trust in your ability to know what to do.

No matter where you are in the process of learning to trust your instincts, be patient and forgiving. Teaching yourself to rely on informed intuition is tricky, but it can lead to better, more fulfilling life choices.

As Tessina points out, “The mind, if we relax and trust it, truly has some miraculous abilities.”

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Cheryl I.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dee D.
D D.3 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W.3 years ago

Too many other voices drown out intuition.

a             y m.
g d c.3 years ago


Sheleen Addison
Sheleen Addison3 years ago

Fantastic article thank you

Maria M.
Maria M.3 years ago

I think the best part of going with the instinct is that as individuals we are always right because we write our own stories no matter what others contribute. So if ones gut feeling is not to do something, or, to do something, instinct and life experience come together and present itself as a "hunch". This means we are tuned into the wavelength of our internal guidance. The gut and mind are the receiver, the unconscious and sudden thought mixed with the perceived instinct/feeling are the antenna to the radiofrequency of life. We all share common experiences and they are out in the universe accessible to everyone who is able to tune in.

Jack Grabon
Jack Grabon3 years ago

Great read :-) My thought is that intuition isn't so much based on instinct or conscious thinking, but rather, more of a sixth sense that we can tune into. It's important to evaluate our intuition to learn which way it steers us since we can tap into more than just our minds or our instincts. We're more like radio receivers, picking up signals, trying to figure out which serve us, what their sources are, and which don't.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thanks :)

Alyssa Riley
Alyssa Riley3 years ago

Love the article! I've always thought that if people lived by instinct rather than fear)like a fear of what others think of them) then it would be a happier world where people feel more connected.