How to Tap into Your Gut Feelings to Find Happiness
A few years ago, Jess Lively, host of popular podcast The Lively Show and personal development expert, found herself stuck in what seems like the ultimate uncomfortable post-breakup scenario — she and her ex were stillliving together. Having signed a lengthy lease and with limited financial resources to back them up if they opted to break the rental terms, Jess and her former boyfriend (their relationship started in college) decided to ride out the last four months on their lease. Unsurprisingly, the unorthodox arrangement met with strong opinions from her friends and family, many of whom wondered why she wasn’t intent on making a cleaner split. Jess had a different take on the situation.
“We loved each other, and he just wasn’t ready to take the next step,” she says. “Now and then, I just had to take a deep breath and realize it was a good thing [the breakup] wasn’t happening after the relationship went further. I knew it was important for him to have some time for soul searching. I just needed to find the good in it for me.”
Over the course of her breakup and the four-month-long unconventional cohabitation period, Jess realized that there were two perspectives to apply to her situation: one perspective driven by the ego, in which she could take the easier, hastier route of packing up her things, moving out and figuring out the rest later, and the other driven by her intuition, in which she allowed herself to calmly navigate her feelings about the breakup without making a dramatic move that might ruin her financially and rush the healing process.
Now, Jess uses these concepts of the ego and intuition as the foundation for her personal enrichment work. She shares her philosophy and also teaches us seven steps for tapping into our intuition to find happiness and make major decisions.
Ego vs. Intuition EXPLAINED
“The bedrock of all of my work is that there’s stress in our lives that comes from the ego and peace that comes from the intuition,” she says.
According to Jess, when making decisions and perceiving things in our daily lives, we have a choice between the two points of view. “The ego feels disconnected from others,” she says. “It believes in scarcity and comparison, and it causes drama.” In contrast, the intuition cultivates a calmer worldview. “It’s a peaceful place within ourselves, usually residing in our chest or stomach, and it’s our ability to access our true consciousness in any situation,” according to Jess. Have you ever had a gut feeling or just known something in your heart? That’s your intuition talking.
Jess also explains her philosophies on the ego and intuition using her favorite analogy for thoughts — the fire hydrant versus the water well. The fire hydrant represents the ego — it’s constantly spewing thoughts all over the place. The water well is the intuition, more slowly and thoughtfully expressing feelings and ideas. “Our intuition is accessible to us when we drop a bucket into the well,” Jess says.
TAPPING INTO YOUR INTUITION
In her podcasts, online courses, retreats and writing, Jess’s goal is to teach people how to live their best lives by tuning into their intuition (or dropping a bucket into that proverbial well). Her first book, Letters to My Intuition, is also forthcoming. The book is a journal of a year in Jess’s life, during which she quite literally communicated directly with her intuition in order to help make major decisions, both professional and personal.
Writing to your intuition, which is a great tool for making major life decisions and dealing with stress, is one of Jess’s favorite exercises to share with her listeners and clients. She gave us a few tips and tricks for starting the exercise.
How to Write to Your Intuition IN SEVEN STEPS
1. Figure out your core question. Writing to your intuition is most helpful when you’re trying to make a significant life choice or when you need to work through some internal doubts in order to shut down your stress. Figure out what question (or questions) you’re struggling with. Jess recommends open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions.
2. Get writing. Grab yourself a cute journal and actually write out your core question. If it feels weird, it’s okay! Try thinking about this exercise as another way of practicing meditation or mindfulness.
3. Don’t rush the process. “People are so used to thinking that the immediate response coming from the ego is the only reaction, so they don’t take the time to listen to their intuition,” Jess says. “Get out of your head! Wait to hear from your heart or your gut before you write down an answer.” If you don’t hear anything from your intuition right away, it’s okay to stop and try again later. Remember it’s not what you think you should do; it’s what you believe, in your heart, is the right decision for you.
4. Follow-up with your intuition. Once you tune into your intuition, jot down what you’ve heard and ask a follow-up question. “It’s basically like text messaging with the universe,” Jess says.
5. Find a buddy. If you’re new to this exercise, it’s probably going to feel disorienting. Grab a buddy and work together to talk through the conversation you’re having with your intuition.
6. There is no right or wrong. Jess emphasizes that there is no single “correct” way to write to your intuition. It’s a different experience for every person, and all of us interact differently with our inner consciousness (similar to meditation). Some people find themselves writing a lot in this exercise, while others get shorter responses from their intuition.
7. Don’t rush action on your answer. After you’ve worked through your concerns by writing to your intuition, don’t let your ego force you backward! Take your intuition’s advice — but do it at the right time. “Your intuition is the idea that everything is working in your favor if you tune into it about what to do next,” Jess says. “But sometimes peace in the present moment doesn’t require action right away.”
Would you try writing to your intuition? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via @jessclively and Getty)