How To Become More Intuitive (And Learn To Trust Your Intuition)

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trust your intuition

Have you ever had an experience where you thought your intuition was telling you something but weren't sure?

Or maybe you're the kind of person who has never had an intuitive thought in your life. Can you still learn to trust your intuition? 

Yes. Yes, you can! 

Is it easy to do?

Like learning anything new, growing your intuition takes a bit of training and a lot of practice. There are moments you may question if you’ll get it and then all of a sudden you'll realize you’ve got it!

Like riding a bike, playing an instrument, or learning to cook food without burning it (or is that just something I had to learn?), anything new you try will have a bit of a learning curve.  

Once you get the basics and keep at it, you just get better and better at it.  

It’s also not helpful comparing yourself to others as you start out. Like subjects in school, you may find intuition is one that comes easily to you —  or it might be one you have to put a bit of effort into before it clicks.

RELATED: 5 Signs You're An Intuitive Genius (And Can Read People Really, Really Well)

Nurturing and growing your intuition is like learning how to keep a garden. You may make a few mistakes, needing to move a fern to a shadier area, or realizing mulch would have prevented all those weeds from growing. You may neglect it for a while and watch it wilt, only to be right there ready to spring back to life with some nurturing.  

Similarly, your intuition is like a seed ready to be planted, nurtured, and grown. You could spend a lifetime cultivating a garden. You could spend a lifetime growing your intuition. 

Give it nurturing, and it will help you weed out what is intruding in your life, create boundaries against predators, welcome in life’s helpers, prepare for stormy times, and revel in awe at each season of life.

Is the nurturing time worth it?

So is it worth the time and effort? Yes, again! See, when I don’t use my intuition, I make mistakes that cost me time, effort, and even money.

For example, I was recently at the grocery store and saw mangos on sale. Mangos are one of my favorite ways to bring sweetness to our home. So, I was very excited to see this expensive fruit on sale. However, when I picked them up something in my gut felt "off". They looked right, had a little "give" when my fingers pressed on them, but my whole body felt very subtly repelled by these mangos.  

That, my friends, was my intuition trying to tell me to put down the mango. I ignored it. I bought the mangos, brought them home, and, you guessed it, they were brown fibrous rotten messes on the inside. Waste of money (or time if I chose to drive back to the grocery store to swap them for the kiwi my intuition tried to guide me toward).

And that is only a mango. Consider how much time, effort, and money we waste in all areas of our lives like career, family, love, and major purchases by not using our intuition.

Want a positive example? One day at work I turned a corner to talk with a co-worker. Someone was sitting at her desk and when that someone turned around and looked into my eyes, I heard my intuitive voice say, "Well there you are!"

In that same instance, I felt my intuition fill me with peace and stability that we were finally together. We have been married 17 years.

How do you define intuition?

You may be saying, I hear the word "intuition" a lot but what does it really mean? After years of study, practice, and teaching others, here’s my take.

Intuition means you are tuned into the messages provided by your highest self to help guide you to your highest good in life. It saves you from rotten mangos and leads you to perfect kiwi. (That’s a metaphor in case you missed it, but it's okay if you did; my husband says my metaphors are terrible).

Are you in? Let’s nurture and grow your intuition!

RELATED: The Deep Reason We Have 'Parental Intuition' — And Why We Need To Trust It More

Step 1: Plant the seeds. 

First, you have to plant the seed that you are open to nurturing and growing your intuition. See, as a child, you were likely aware of your intuition but learned from grownups to ignore these messages. 

"It’s just coincidence!" or "It’s just your imagination!" So we buried our intuition. To turn it back on, we have to be willing to get our hands a little dirty. 

How? It is as simple as being willing to pay attention and taking a leap of faith that this little seed will turn into a gloriously huge and awesome plant.

Step 2: Cultivate the sprouts.

I’m looking at the dirt but don’t see anything yet. What am I looking for? You need to know how your intuition talks to you. Let’s keep things really simple here. There are 5 intuitive senses:

  • We may smell something (like a repulsive smell near the mango even if when putting one up to your nose it smells sweet).
  • We may see something (like a haze around the mango and our gaze more clear near the kiwi).
  • We may feel something (like repelled away from the mango and attracted to the kiwi).
  • We may hear something (like an inner voice saying "rotten, move on").
  • We may even just know something (a clear knowing that that mango is bad but the kiwi over there is good).  

While each of us has can learn to use all five of these senses, many notice one or two senses first. So here are two activities to see which one may already be sprouting in your life.

(I also find that when learning something new it’s helpful to have a bit of repetition. Don’t worry if you say "no" to all of these, you are learning to recognize how intuition communicates and this plants the seed.)

Intuition says, "Bad vibes here!"

Thinking back, have you ever walked into a room where two people were having a heated conversation? 

  • Did you smell something (foul, burning, sickly sweet, sour, etc.)? 
  • Did you see something (the color red, a haze, a flash of a scene in your mind's eye)?
  • Did you feel something (anger, fear, hurt, sadness)?
  • Did you hear something (fight, not about you, come back later)?
  • Did you know what it was about (just knew they were fighting about cheating, hurt feelings, money conflict)?

Intuition says, "This way to your best life."

Throughout our lives, our intuition has attempted to guide us toward our best life, but we may not have recognized it as intuition at the time. Let's look back and see if we can find some examples. Have you ever:

  • ...been in a situation and said to yourself, “this stinks?” Or scented something that was not in the air but reminded you of something or someone (the brand of tobacco your grandfather smoked, your ex’s perfume, the tar going onto your elementary school classroom roof)?
  • ...been driving down the highway and seen a vision of a car driving fast, decided to pull into a slower lane, only to have that very car race by you moments later? Have there been other “flashes” of vision that popped in your mind that led to motivation toward a goal, a warning of danger, or led you to lean in or out of a relationship?
  • ...been sitting next to a stranger and felt an emotion rise up in you such as love, connection, peace, respect, anger, boundaries, or fear? Met someone and felt a strong connection of recognition that later blossomed into a friendship?
  • ...heard words in your inner ear like, “move over,” “look out,” or “yes.” If you are an artist did you ever hear a fresh song in your head or words to write?
  • ...known something about someone or a situation without being told? Known someone was going to text, known someone had passed away, or known to turn left instead of right and discovering your new favorite coffee spot?

Did you recognize any ways in which your intuition has communicated with you in the past? If so, great! You’ve got some little plantings in your garden. If not that’s okay, let’s cultivate some new shoots.

Intuition says, "Trust me. I’m here to help."

Now the seed has been planted, and we now know how intuition communicates. We know what to look for. It's time to start paying attention to and nurturing these senses so they will grow and flourish. 

Please remember, this activity could take days, weeks, or months. Remember we all learn new things at different rates. Be patient. Be mindful not to judge your little patch of dirt against your neighbors thriving showstopper of a garden. 

Competition and self-doubt are like poison to the garden of intuition. Take all the time you need to nurture and grow your intuition. This is your garden. 

Go through each step of this activity at your own pace, in order to learn to trust your intuition: 

  • Any time throughout the day that your senses add something that isn’t really in front of you, write it down. 
    What did you smell, see, feel, hear, or just know? Also, write down things that happened before and after the sensation. What was the situation going on? Who was there? What was the outcome of the "nudge" you got? Did you do anything differently because of it? Keep track in a journal or on your phone.
  • After you’ve gathered a few examples, find a quiet moment where you can review them. 
    Look at your list of experiences and begin to notice when your intuition has helped you make decisions, led you to great opportunities, helped you avoid bad situations (or mangos!), introduced you to great new people, helped you avoid draining people, etc.  Also notice when you didn’t trust it, and what the outcome of that was. Be sure to keep self-judgment and shame out of this. You are learning! This activity will help you build trust in your intuition, and a desire to get out and grow more!
  • Weed out your ego from the process.
    Like a weed, ego infiltrates, to trample and strangle all you’ve worked hard to cultivate. Especially when we learn something new, ego crops back up to bring us back to the status quo:
    1. You may think, "I thought I weeded that pattern/thought/fear out of my life. Why is it back?"
      Well, ego seems especially inclined to keep us from using our intuition because it thrives on drama. As you begin to trust your intuition, the ego may try to throw you off track.  "You are making that up" is a phrase my clients report often. So how do we keep cultivating our intuitive garden with all these weeds cropping up? Recognize ego for what it is, and trust that the little seed of intuition you planted will grow into a glorious plant.  
    2. But sometimes, the ego is sneaky and may look like a plant.
      It may sound like "Are you sure you want to do that?" Or "I’m scared, let’s not." How do you tell the difference between your beautiful plant shoot of intuition and a weed of ego? As you nurture your intuition, you’ll quickly notice that ego feels like fear, while intuition feels like grounded love. Intuition communicates in a clear, gentle, loving way. It’s like your mentor sharing wisdom. Your mentor isn’t attached to the outcome of your choices, doesn’t shame you or ridicule you, just points you in a positive direction. Your mentor knows the decision is up to you and is still there to support you if you choose not to follow the advice. The ego feels like the mean bully of the family or playground who pokes all the pain points in your life demands that you do things and shames you for not doing things.

So at this step, cultivate the loving messages of your intuition. When you hear ego tell it’s repetitive stories about why things won’t work, why you are such a loser, and why you should give up, imagine pulling out that weed by its roots. 

Breathe, and move on. Your intuition is about to bloom.

RELATED: Why Following Your Intuition Will Help You Trust Yourself (& Trust Others, Too)

Step 3: Witness the birth of intuition.

It may happen suddenly. You are about to hit send on an email to a client, but feel your hand pause and hear the words "Wait. Edit" in your head. You review the email and notice a mistake. Quick fix and the email is off again. Ah, intuition, thank you.

It is important to say "thank you! It’s like telling your highest self, "I trust you, I’m listening, please keep talking to me in this way."

Notice, notice, notice. The more you notice how your intuition is communicating with you, how it’s guidance is helping you, and how much more beautiful your life is because of it, the more your intuition will grow.   

You can also tune into it when you need it. Need to make a decision? Try this activity.

Intuition says, "Let me answer that for you."

We all have questions about things and decisions to make. Here are the steps to ask your intuition for help making a choice.

  1. Quiet your mind. Find the way your mind quiets down. Is it through running, yoga, meditation, deep breaths, while taking a bath/shower, gardening, cooking, doing a puzzle, etc.  If it is pretty active, try out some different strategies to find what works for you. 
  2. When our mind is quiet, ask yourself, "Is this (career, relationship, purchase, move, school/college/trade-school/training program, etc.) for my highest good?"
  3. Pay attention to your intuitive senses. What do you smell, see, feel, hear, or know? Do you "know" the answer is "no"?
  4. If the information feels unclear or muddled, take a breath and ask again. If it is still muddled, let it go for now. The answer may come while you are waking up in the morning, taking a shower, driving to work, or petting your dog.
  5. Still muddled? Look at yourself in the mirror and talk to yourself about the decision. Are you leaning forward with excitement about this opportunity? Are your eyes bright, are your arms gesturing, is your mouth smiling? Or are you looking like a smaller version of yourself? Are you pulled back, with lips drawn, and a pit in your stomach? During this exercise, you may feel fear (change often brings that up!).  What you are looking for is how you appear in the mirror as you talk about the opportunity. Are you leaning into or away from this opportunity? If you are leaning in, you can work through your fears around the change. If you are leaning away, the fear may be your intuition saying, "run!"

In addition to practicing this activity, it may help to talk with others that are growing their intuitive gardens. As long as you all remember that it is not a competition (poison!), you can help each other weed out ego, recognize intuitive messages, and rejoice at life’s new ease.  

It’s such a joy to work with your highest self, it’s like having a blooming garden all year long. It’s even more fun to watch other loved ones working with their highest selves and championing their growth. 

Who doesn't love seeing a variety of beautiful thriving gardens?

Step 4: Keep nurturing and growing your intuition.

Just like any garden, your intuition will need ongoing nurturing to grow. If we stop paying attention to the garden, weeds come back. This step is simple too. Keep weeding out ego. Keep tending to your plants (the senses that are developed). Nurture new growth (develop the other senses). 

Enjoy your new beautiful life!

Those are the steps to nurturing and growing your intuition. I’m so excited for you. 

My greatest joy is when a friend or client calls and says, "I was going to call you for a reading to help make a decision, but I remembered our workshop on intuition, got quiet and listened to my inner self, and confidently made my decision."

I want that for you too.

You may wonder at this point that if you listen to your intuition throughout your life, won’t it be just easy, peace, prosperity, and joy? Here’s my take on that. 

We are all living in a world full of dichotomy: pain/joy; ease/struggle; love/fear.  We are living in a world where babies are born, and where people get sick, hurt, and die. We are living in a world where some of our greatest challenges and failures lead to growth, fresh ideas, and innovation. 

Learning to trust your intuition is not a ticket out of life’s journey, it’s just a compass along with your highest path. It will help save you from unnecessary side trips and stumbles. And it will help guide you through the rough terrain, the storms, and the desolate barren wastelands. 

It will reduce the suffering caused by ego, and increase your self-efficacy that you can get through challenges. 

Some of the people who trust their intuition that I most admire like Oprah, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Louise Hay all went through challenges. But ease and peace come from knowing that you, like them, will be guided through challenging times by your highest self. 

Trust your intuition. Nurture it. And watch it grow.  

RELATED: You Should Always Trust Your Intuition (But Maybe Not Your Gut!)

Heather Needham is a Soulful Life/Career Coach and Intuitive. For more support living a life in alignment with your values and legacy visit her blog or book a session.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.