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When we have a big question or an important decision to make, many of us look outside of ourselves for the answers.

We turn to Google. We get advice from our friends and family. We read books or consult the teachings of experts. Yet we often neglect to consult the most important authority of all: our own intuition.

Your subconscious mind is the source of your hidden genius and will always provide you with the knowledge you need to move forward in the right direction.

This is true for all people, not just those who consider themselves to be psychic or highly intuitive.

Consider this: have you ever been thinking about someone – and out of the blue the phone rings and that exact person is on the line?

Or have you ever felt like someone is watching you – and when you turn around you see someone staring at you from some distance away?

These are just two common examples of your intuition at work. Just like memory, critical thinking, and intellect, your intuition is a mental muscle you can strengthen and use to create success and become the best possible version of yourself.

Here are seven tips on how to develop your intuition and leverage it to make wiser, more soul-inspired decisions for your life.

1. Recognize when your intuition speaks

First of all, in order to be able to use your intuition, you must able to recognize it when it speaks to you. Intuition usually isn’t loud or demanding – it’s subtle and communicates in different ways for different people.

For example, you may receive visual messages, such as images that appear in quick flashes or visions that unfold slowly, like a movie.

Your intuition might speak to you as a hunch, a thought, or in words. You may even be able to enter into a dialogue with your intuition to get more information and clarity.

Alternatively, your intuition may speak to you in physical sensations, such as goose bumps, discomfort in your gut, a feeling of relief, or a sour taste in your mouth.

You may receive intuitive messages through your emotions, such as feelings of uneasiness or confusion when your inner wisdom is steering you away from something – or feelings of euphoria and profound peace when you’re being guided down a path that will lead you to greater personal joy and abundance.

Sometimes intuition messages are simply a deep sense of knowing and certainty. If you’ve ever felt that you knew something to be true in the depths of your heart or soul, chances are it was a message from your intuition.

2. Deepen your intuition through meditation

In order to access your intuition, you need to deepen your connection to it – and meditation is an excellent tool for this. Regular meditation will help you clear your mind of distractions and teach you how to better recognize the subtle impulses from within.

I recommend you set aside time each day to meditate on your own, or use guided meditations such as those found in my Awakening Power program.

It doesn’t have to be long – even ten minutes a day will yield powerful results and will make it much easier for you to notice your intuition when it speaks to you through words, images, emotions, or physical sensations.

3. Dedicate time to listen to your intuition each day

Life is busy, and in the rush to cross off items on our daily to-do lists, it’s easy to forget to stop and tune into our higher intelligence. But your most valuable wisdom comes when you are most open to receiving it.

That’s why I encourage you to devote time every day – multiple times a day, if necessary – to consciously give your intuition center stage. This is especially important when you’re being asked to make any important decisions. Be sure to take some time to sit with your intuition and look inside yourself for the answers before you choose which path to take.

4. Ask questions

Receiving wisdom from your intuition shouldn’t be a passive experience. Get specific about the information you need and what kind of answers you’re looking for. The more clearly you pose your questions to your innate wisdom, the clearer the answers will be.

5. Write down your answers

Intuitive messages are subtle and can fade from your conscious mind very quickly unless you take action to record them. In fact, neuroscience research indicates that intuitive insights not captured within thirty-seven seconds will likely never be recalled again.

Journal writing is a highly effective way to access your intuition and capture its wisdom. I suggest you make a regular practice of journaling for just five or ten minutes a day – you’ll be amazed at the clarity of what comes through!

6. Take immediate action

The Universe rewards those who take action – and so does your intuition. When you act on the information you receive from your inner source of wisdom, you open the channel between your subconscious and conscious mind even wider and will receive more intuitive messages that are stronger and easier for you to hear and act on.

7. Trust yourself

The more faith you demonstrate in your intuition, the greater the results will be.

Whether you want to make better decisions, solve problems faster, or create winning plans for your life, you will achieve your goals faster and more effectively when you tune into your intuition and listen to what your inner wisdom has to say.

Trusting your intuition is all about trusting yourself. @JackCanfield (Click to Tweet!)

And the more trust you place in yourself, the more success you will have.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!

Image courtesy of Danielle MacInnes.