Our actions, behaviors, and perceptions are often ruled by the word “should.” How many of the following statements ring true for you?
…be the perfect spouse/friend/parent
…always have an impeccably clean house
…be the best at my job
…always be productive
…never feel sad
…have it all figured out by now
When the word “should” rules our lives, we end up feeling a lot of guilt.
The reason we feel guilty is because it’s impossible to live up to our unrealistic expectations of ourselves. We are our own worst critic. Throughout the day, an inner dialogue often runs in our heads that is so negative and self-critical that we would never direct these words toward anyone else. So why be so hard on ourselves? One of the most powerful acts of self-care that we can ever do is to surrender and accept ourselves as we are in this moment.
An important aspect of surrender is learning to trust your own natural rhythms. We all have a small, still voice within that knows what’s best for us. The trouble is we seldom listen to this voice. Instead, the “shoulds” rear their ugly heads and cause us to lead lives that are completely out of line with our core values and intuition.
So what’s the best way to access your intuition? For me, the tools that have worked best are yoga and meditation. To get in touch with your intuitive side, you need to STOP. One of my mentors Rich German says, “busyness is a form of denial.” Stop busying yourself with menial tasks that you’re only doing to avoid listening to your inner voice. Take time for stillness.
Get out of your head and into your body. Our intuition often comes to us at a physical level before we register anything on a conscious level. This is where the term “gut feeling” comes from. An article on the Science of Intuition in Oprah Magazine describes a study in which people were asked to play a game with four decks of cards. Two of the decks were rigged to have higher value cards, while the other two were stacked with losers. The study showed that after seeing only ten cards, participants started to show a stress response (sweaty palms) to the bad decks. However, they didn’t verbally report suspecting the decks were rigged until they had pulled fifty cards and could only explain exactly how the decks were stacked after eighty cards.
The moral? Listen to your body and start giving yourself permission to follow your own rhythms. Let go of the “shoulds.” Forget everything you’ve ever read about how things “should” be done. Only you know what’s best for you. Even five minutes a day of stillness can help you access your inner wisdom.
On a personal note, I’m one of the most analytical and organized people you’ll ever meet. So when it comes to listening to my intuition, I tend to have a rough time. My ego/analytical mind is very strong and loves to spend time berating me with “shoulds.” This over-thinking even plagued me as a child. However, I also know that beneath all of my analyzing and planning, there has always been a strong sense of intuition that has guided me, particularly when it comes to making big decisions in my life.
Over the past few years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to start trusting my instincts. As an example, on a Wednesday afternoon last summer, I suddenly got the urge to go blueberry picking. The “shoulds” immediately jumped in, telling me that I should be working on a Wednesday afternoon, not frolicking off to the country on a whim. Instead of giving into my analytical mind, I trusted my gut, got in my car, and drove off to a blueberry farm. The whole time I was picking berries, my mind was in a tug of war. My ego kept telling me I should be at home working, but my intuition kept telling me that spending time in nature was an amazing form of self-care.
What was the result of my blueberry day? The next morning, I woke up feeling energized. My mind was flowing with new and exciting ideas for my writing and speaking engagements. I realized that my intuition had been telling me that I needed a break. I’d needed to reboot so that I could approach my work in a new way.
Tama Kieves says, “When we follow our whims, we’re guided by wind.” Give your analytical mind a rest for a moment, take some time to be still, and access that voice inside of you. No matter how goofy, strange, or “out there” an idea seems, just do it. The reason behind your actions might not be clear at first, but that’s because intuition doesn’t work in a linear, logical way. Life doesn’t operate in a linear, logical way either. “Man plans, God laughs.”
Listen to your inner voice. It will never lead you down the wrong path.
In this moment, what is your intuition asking you to do? Share your comments with me below!
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Photo by Quest For Life.