How to Listen to Your Intuition and Follow Your Inner Wisdom

By: Jennifer Joy Jiménez

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

I adore that Steve Jobs quote because it says something so true about intuition.

Following your heart and listening to your intuition is BRAVE. It’s brave. It’s beautiful. It’s an act of courage.

People talk about intuition in this dreamy way, as if it doesn’t really matter. They say it as if it’s separate from or less than real world intellect or success. It’s not separate, though. Your intuition is very much at the heart of your successes. So much so that researchers have actually come up with ways to scientifically prove that intuition informs and improves your decision-making!

There are so many voices in your life. I love a speech that Stephen Spielberg (another hero!) gave about listening to your intuition. 

He talked about all the voices that you hear from parents, teachers, mentors, and bosses. All those outside influences telling you what to think. And sometimes, maybe often, those voices are right. But sometimes they’re not right for you.

“I want to be clear that your intuition is different from your conscience. They work in tandem but here’s the distinction. Your conscience SHOUTS, ‘Here’s what you should do!’, while your intuition whispers, ‘Here’s what you could do.’” – Stephen Spielberg

Today, that’s what I’d like to talk about. How can you tell the difference between all these voices in your head and outside in the world? 

The outside influences the inside. All of the voices you hear have a great impact on your internal thoughts. Sometimes those voices are negative, and you need to know how to silence the inner critic those outside voices can create. 

But the same holds true for your inner voice. Your intuition can absolutely make the biggest impact on your life, if you can identify it, listen to it, and ACT on it. 

Acting on your heart intuition is where your true bravery comes into play!

What Is Intuition?

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”.

That quote is often (falsely) attributed to Albert Einstein. While he didn’t actually say it, I do still love the quote!

Intuition can be defined as the ability to understand something immediately. You don’t need to stop for conscious reasoning. Something inside you, a still, small voice, gives you the answer before the question is even fully formed.

We all have intuition. Every living, breathing person has the ability to use their intuition. Some of us pay more attention to it than others. Outside influences often often teach us not to listen or to doubt our own inner voice. But these outside conditions can be overcome. The voice of intuition is “as loud as we are willing to listen.”

Your intuition comes to you as feelings, images, and flashes.

Everyone sees and feels things through their own mechanisms. Each of us has a primary learning method (some read, some listen to lectures, others learn through doing the activity).

Intuition works in much the same way. Your intuition might speak to you in words, whole sentences, or poetry. You might see vivid scenes play out in your mind or just flashes of images. You may not have any words or images, but just an innate knowing. Those things are your intuition, and it’s connected to the Voice of Truth.

Mary Morrissey calls this the voice of your heart intuition. This voice is never fearful. There is no stress or frenzy attached to it. In fact, the voice is very calm and quiet. You are only required to quiet your own mind and self to listen for it.

Once you understand what the voice is, if it’s something you learned from the outside or the true voice, you can even ask it questions. Your inner voice has every answer you would need, no matter the question.

We’re going to talk about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, so you can find your intuition faster. But here’s a little hint up front, you can practice listening to your intuition by Noticing What You Are Noticing

Mary Morrissey On Head Knowledge vs. Heart Intuition

We’ve all been faced with decisions where your heart is telling you one thing, but your brain is telling you another. It’s happened to everyone. The question is: which matters most? Head Knowledge or Heart Intuition?

Head knowledge, also called intellect, has a very important place in building the life of our dreams. Mary Morrissey, the founder of the Brave Thinking Institute and my mother, values intellect a great deal. She spends time every day reading and studying. 

So, when we position Head Knowledge vs Heart Intuition, we’re not saying that one is inferior. They’re both important. 

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Head Knowledge and Its Place in Your Success

Without head knowledge, you wouldn’t be able to achieve some of your dreams. If you wanted to be a certified coach, it would be difficult to become amazing for your clients unless you went through a trusted and proven certification process. That’s only one example. Doctors, lawyers, marketing professionals, anyone with a specialty must commit themselves to learning to be successful. 

Head knowledge is also important in your personal life. There are so many things that are enhanced by great knowledge and so many things you would miss out on without it.

With head knowledge, I also want to point out that it includes programming we receive growing up.

Our beliefs are shaped by authority figures such as parents, coaches, and teachers. The influences and opinions that surround us throughout our lives are part of our paradigms (which are systems of belief, explained in more detail in the first link and here). These belief systems can be both positive and negative. 

While head knowledge can represent our formal education, it can also be felt in our “shoulds”, “musts”, “have-tos”, and “can’ts”. It is our voice of common sense, logic, and practicality, which is not the same as our voice of intuition. 

The conditioning from other people’s ideas about how life works is in the background and our conscious thoughts. Those are part of your head knowing which often drowns out your intuition.

We all worry about what society will think because it’s part of our conditioning. When you really get authentic, you realize that other peoples’ thoughts won’t make you happy. They may align with your heart intuition but they often won’t.

Tuning into Your Heart Intuition 

Now let’s talk about Heart Intuition.

Your intuition is your internal guidance system for your life. It’s non-linear. And it’s a system that’s available to you at all times, no matter where you are.

Your heart intuition speaks to you from a spiritual level. You’ve heard it called a “gut feeling”, a “sixth sense” and even phrases like, “my spidey senses are tingling”. We all have them, but we don’t all take the time to listen.

Have you ever had a hunch about someone you met and then found out your initial feeling was accurate? Most of us have. We say we’re good at reading people or attribute our “gut feelings” to logic, rather than intuition. 

Your intuition gives you information that you don’t have consciously.

You may be picking up on body language or other information on a subconscious level, but you’re also tuning into something greater.

This aspect of your intuition gives you the ability to pick up on another person’s moods, thoughts, vibrations, and feelings. Have you ever walked into a room where two people were arguing? You might not have heard a word they said before you entered, but you feel that vibration in the air.

Your heart intuition lets you plug into these unseen vibrations and communicate with Infinite Intelligence.

Intuition is sometimes called the still, small voice. It guides you to make decisions that you don’t see a logical reason to make, which we occasionally call hunches. 

There are times in our life where we disregard these stray feelings and then absolutely regret the outcome. If you learn to listen to your intuition more fully, you won’t have to say, “Ugh, I knew it!” as much.

What Your Inner Voice Has to Do with Dirty Apple Juice

Mary Morrissey once told a story that I love. It’s about a monk whose five-year-old niece came to visit. A version of this story was originally told in the book, “The Sun My Heart” by Thich Nhat Hanh, who recently passed from this life at the age of 95. 

I want to pause here in recognition of Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk, Zen Master, and world-renowned religious leader who spread the practice of mindfulness throughout his life.

A monk who spent much of his time in meditation learned a clarifying lesson from his five-year-old niece. His niece was staying for the summer, and she would play just outside his meditation room. For the most part, the community took turns watching her while he was occupied.

One day, he heard this small knock on the meditation room door. When he answered, his niece stood on the other side of the threshold, looking up at him with big, wide eyes.

“Uncle Monk, Uncle Monk, my friends and I are VERY thirsty,” she said with all the urgency of a five-year-old on a dire mission.

“Will you give us something to drink?” she smiled up at him.

Of course, the monk followed her out to the refrigerator to accommodate her request. He opened the door and found a jug of homemade apple juice that had been prepared the day before. 

The monk placed four glasses on the counter and poured each full of juice.

One for his niece, and one for each of her friends.

Homemade apple juice is nothing like the processed juice you can buy from the store. When the monk poured, the first three glasses came from the upper portion of the jug. The juice came out clear.

The fourth glass, though, came from the lower portion of the jug. It glugged into the glass full of sediment and pulp, with a murky appearance.

The older friends quickly grabbed the clear glasses that looked more like the juice they were familiar with. That left the one last glass of juice for the monk’s young niece.

“I don’t want that apple juice! That’s dirty apple juice!”

The little girl wrinkled up her nose and crossed her arms.

“No, honey. It’s not dirty apple juice. It’s very good apple juice. This apple juice is even better than the others because it has all the apples in it,” the monk explained.

“I don’t want THAT apple juice. It’s dirty apple juice.”

This went back and forth for a few minutes.

The little girl stubbornly stood her ground, as very sure five-year-olds are apt to do.

Finally, the monk returned to his meditation room, leaving the glass on the counter in case his niece changed her mind.

About thirty minutes passed, and the monk was deep in meditation when another small knock made him smile and shake his head. He went to the door and opened it to the same big eyes. This time, her face wore a pronounced pout.

“I’m only a little girl, and I’m VERY thirsty. Can you please help me get something to drink?”

The monk took her by the hand and walked with her to the kitchen. He explained that he did help her and that her apple juice would still be good to drink. She was very firm in her refusal of the terrible “dirty apple juice”.

When they reached the counter, the apple juice still sat in the glass where he left it. But after thirty minutes, it no longer looked dirty. The sediment had all sunk to the bottom of the glass, and it appeared as clear as the first three glasses he poured earlier.

“Are you sure you don’t want the apple juice? Look at it now,” he motioned to the glass.

“Wow! What happened to it? Did you clean it?” 

“No,” he laughed, “It just sat still for thirty minutes.”

She nodded her head, reaching up on tippy toes to grasp the glass.

“Now I know why you sit still so much,” she said.  

I just love that story so much. It makes me smile because that little girl was so very right. When we sit still and quiet ourselves, we allow the chaos and noise to settle. It does clean us in a way.

We get more clarity when the sediment drains down. And we can make room to hear the voice within.

How to Listen to Your Intuition

It’s one thing for you to decide to listen to your intuition. It’s quite another to fully recognize how to do it.

It gets confusing. There are so many voices coming at you from the outside world and what you were taught growing up. Then you have the voices in your own head. And not all the voices in your mind are your intuition. This is where it gets very tricky.

I’m going to give you a few key ways to recognize the difference between your intuition and the other voices, like the false paradigms you learned in childhood.

Three ways to recognize your intuition:

  1. It Shows You Alignment
  2. It Is Unique to You
  3. It Is Calm

1 — It Shows You Alignment

When your inner voice speaks to you, there is perfect alignment. If you feel conflicted or off about a situation, that’s because it doesn’t check out with your intuition. That’s your intuition telling you that your rational or head knowledge is not steering you in the right direction.

When you feel uncomfortable with a situation, check it against that still, small voice. You can ask your intuition questions, and it will answer. 

2 — It is Unique to You

When I tell you to ask your intuition questions, that’s very literal. Your voice is unique to you. If it sounds like your mom or some other family member, it’s not going to be your intuition. 

Just like you can recognize the voice of a friend in a sea of people, your inner voice is unique. Once you get in touch with it, and make a practice of listening to it, you’ll find that it’s easy to decipher that voice from any other.

3 — It is Calm

One sure clue that the voice is your intuition comes from the energy behind it. Your inner voice is always calm and sure. It’s never frenzied. Listening to your inner voice gives you an immediate sense of peace.

Other voices, like those that might make you self-conscious, will often give you negative feelings or increased anxiety. When you feel those things, know they are not your intuition.

Developing Your Power of Intuition

Once you recognize that intuition is real, and that it’s different from other voices, it’s time to truly learn how to develop your Power of Intuition.

You’ve learned what intuition is and the difference between head knowledge and heart intuition. You’ve gotten a great example of clarity from Thich Nhat Hanh’s dirty apple juice story. And we’ve gone over three great ways to identify your inner voice from all the other sounds in your world.

But working with your intuition is a lifelong process. I invite you to devote some time to tuning into your own intuition. Really ask yourself the important and even mundane questions. You’ll soon find that you recognize your inner voice above all others.

While this post gave you some excellent information and tools, we have a great wealth of resources at the Brave Thinking Institute to help you progress in your journey so much faster.

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