Stopping your busy mind so you can start listening to your intuition is a useful strategy that can support your sleep, health, and overall well-being.
Stories Illustrating Intuition Are Everywhere
She barged through the doorway and grabbed a scalpel off the table in one fluid motion.
Determinedly, she rushed toward the woman struggling to deliver her baby, and made a swift cut that would save the boy’s life.
This scene was in an episode of “The Spanish Princess”, which I’ve been watching. Along with watching later episodes of “Friends” (which I never really did when it was on) and following a close friend whose wife recently delivered their second child, babies are everywhere.
It struck me that making the decision NOT to have children is not just one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s one of those deep, inner knowings and I’ve never wavered from it.
When I was in my 20s and all my peers were getting married and having kids, I never felt the urge. When I was in my late 30s and getting married, one of my colleagues used to joke: “now you’ll want kids.”
And now, as I’m here in my mid 40s experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause, what I feel is not regret or sadness. I feel gratitude for having listened to my deep inner knowing, even when it seemed to counter all conventional norms.
My mind could have told me all the reasons why it would have been a good idea to have a baby (or two). “Who will take care of you when you’re older?” “You’ll be missing out on one of the greatest joys in life!” “You’ll feel differently when it’s your own child.”
Yet my intuition was strong, clear, and simple: “no”.
When Queen Catherine took action in the delivery room of her husband’s mistress, one might imagine that her mind wasn’t side-tracking her with “what-ifs”. She knew what she had to do and she did it. (Even when a healthy baby boy produced by another woman was not in her best interest.)
Intuition Supports Your Health & Well-Being
My clients often want to know how to make choices that support their health and well-being, especially when it’s difficult. Peers may be making choices at work that are leading them towards burnout, but in the short-term are receiving praise or compensation. Feeling guilty about reducing support to family or friends (who take advantage) is a real concern.
In my experience as a sleep and well-being coach, the answer comes down to this: discernment between “mind” and “intuition”.
Recognizing which is guiding you through your days can help keep stress low so (among other things), you can rest and sleep more peacefully. For example, is it:
- better to get outside for a walk or take a nap when you’re feeling lethargic?
- more appropriate to support a family member who needs you, or take time for your own self-care?
- more important to be honest or hold your tongue when what you have to say is potentially hurtful?
The answer to all of these questions is the same: it depends.
And, intuition is the voice inside you that knows what’s right for you, in any given moment. It’s the one voice that knows what must be done (whether or not it feels good at the time). Honing our ability to listen to our intuitive voice is a skill that can be developed.
Developing your intuition can reduce the number of automatic negative thoughts, feelings of overwhelm, and physiological symptoms of anxiety and stress. This skill can help you feel more confident in making decisions that stick, strengthen your commitment to your well-being, and increase your resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
How to Know What’s Busy Mind (to Stop) & What’s Intuition
Here are 6 tips to help you distinguish between your true intuitive voice, and your busy mind.
- Intuition is concise and clear. In contrast, your busy mind won’t want to stop. It will have a LOT to say! The mind prefers negotiating, bargaining, “figuring it out”, weighing the options, discussing all the pros/cons.
We’re trained to value the mind’s type of problem solving, so it can feel uncomfortable to let it go. But if you’ve been stuck in your mind for a while without a sense of resolution, it’s probably time to try something different!
- No “because” is necessary. Part of the mind’s busy narrative usually involves rationalizing. It wants to come up with all the “because’s” that you can tell yourself or others about. Intuition needs no “because”. The answer is just the answer. It just IS.
- Intuition is energy preserving, or even energy giving. All the mental churning of the mind will typically drain your energy. Conversely, intuition conserves it, or you feel energized, even motivated by it.
- You feel content, and at peace. Your body is relaxed and you have an overall sense of calm. When you’re caught up in your busy mind, it’s common to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel: going in circles. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
- You’re just “done”. And I don’t mean “done” as in “fried and tired” or apathetic. Repetition and rumination are characteristics of mind. The mind wants to re-review, over and over again. This is tied to #2.
- You observe the proof. Whenever you follow your intuitive voice, you’ll likely see how it has helped make your life easier. Regardless of how significant the choice might be (e.g. you turn right instead of left), take a moment to notice. Or, do your research after you’ve heard what your intuition has to say. These can help you re-establish trust in your own intuitive skill.
Practice asking small questions: what’s the ONE thing I can do right now to help me feel better? LISTEN. Soften your thinking muscles and allow some space.
What comes to the surface? Can you trust and follow that guidance?
Did this post open your eyes to something new?
For more atypical insights into your ongoing sleep & well-being struggles + a way forward without more pills, products, and gadgets, grab your copy of MASTERING YOUR SLEEP PUZZLE: YOUR 12-WEEK GUIDE TO SLEEPING BETTER by Kali Patrick.
Originally published September 2022 in Health Web Magazine*.