We all have intuition, and yet we often ignore the signals it sends us. What are they trying to tell you? Intuitive signals can be a powerful tool for introspection and self-awareness, but why don't we trust them more?
Intuition is something that many people experience as an "inner voice" or feeling. For some of us, this inner voice has been drowned out by past experiences - negative verbal messages about our beliefs in ourselves; phrases like "you're not good enough," "don't speak up," or "what do you know?"
These negative messages create limiting beliefs that impact how we listen to and trust our intuitive signals. Let's look at 3 reasons why so many of us ignore our inner voice.
Reason # 1: Beliefs that are deeply ingrained after past experiences
It is common for a bad experience from the past to create what we think of as "limiting beliefs." Whenever we are hurt, the ego jumps in and tells us that we are not capable enough to know what is right for ourselves and that we need to rely on others to tell us what is the best decision. We feel uncomfortable in situations where we might be hurt again, even if that risk is minimal.
Let's look at three examples of limiting beliefs and what typically happens when you don't challenge them:
- Past Experience: Tried to be social and felt like an outsider
- Limiting Belief: "I'm not going to meet people when I go out."
- Action: Staying at home and not going out
- Result: Not meeting new people and continuing to feel lonely
- Past Experience: Spoke up and was either ignored or ridiculed
- Limiting Belief: "Nobody cares about what I want."
- Action: Not speaking up or self-advocating
- Result: Continuing to feel unheard
- Past Experience: Attempts to improve their job situation are met with resistance
- Limiting Belief: "Everyone hates their job, so why should I expect anything different for myself?"
- Action: Not finding a job that's a better fit, or not speaking up about parts of the job that can improve
- Result: Continuing to feel dissatisfied with their job, which may affect their overall performance (and lead to an involuntary job change)
Limiting beliefs encourage us to stay where we are at and not take risks so we don't get hurt. Even if our intuition encourages us to do something to change our situation, the limiting beliefs convince us to not take action because stability feels safe.
However, by not taking risks and following what we know is "safe", we end up with a limited experience of life that does not make us happy since there are a number of things that happen in life that we can't control no matter how hard we try.
If you're struggling with limiting beliefs, it can help to talk about them or write about them in order for them not to consume your thoughts. You can also ask for help from people who love and care about how we think about future possibilities! Our limiting beliefs can be changed by challenging them and finding logical reasons that support a more empowering belief. This may mean completing an exercise to find other ways to cope with the issue, reading supportive material, or even going up against our limiting belief in order to change it.
For example, if we have a limiting belief about not being able to make friends when we go out, we can ask a friend or colleague for a list of events and places where lots of potential friends might be. We can listen carefully for conversations that seem friendly and jump in with something that's on their mind. We can also try socializing without the intention of making any friends - having just one friend is actually better than not having any at all!
Reason # 2: Unmet childhood needs that shape our beliefs about ourselves
Our upbringing contributes to our beliefs about ourselves, both good and bad. If our needs are met, we not only have an optimistic view of the world but we also see ourselves as deserving of our desires. The reverse is also true. Unmet needs in childhood are those needs that have not been satisfied by our parents and/or family members which can have a negative effect on how we see ourselves and why we believe that we deserve certain things.
For example, if we don't feel loved and supported by our parents then it is much easier to believe that nobody will ever love us or care about what we want. If you experienced abuse as a child, you may feel unworthy of love or intimacy. If you were never wanted, it might lead to the belief that "I don't deserve what I want." Others examples of unmet needs in childhood include lack of attention, lack of connection with others, lack of creativity, or feeling that they do not matter to anyone.
Unmet needs in childhood create a subconscious image of how we view ourselves and our ability to change our situation. We are hesitant to trust our intuition - especially in situations that involve change - because we no longer have the support system we had growing up.
Is there proof that the unmet needs in childhood can be changed?
The answer is "yes!" One high-profile example was Oprah Winfrey who grew up with an abusive and neglectful mother whose behavior led to her belief that she would never have a happy, successful life. She even believed it was better to not try because she would fail. However, as Oprah grew older and her life became more stable (she got married) the feelings of hurt and rejection that resulted from unmet needs in childhood faded away.
If you're struggling with limiting beliefs caused by unmet needs in childhood, remember that there are actionable ways for people who care about you to help. It may be helpful for you to talk with a therapist or support-group, read materials that challenge limiting beliefs, or even go against what your limiting belief tells you in order to change it!
Reason # 3: We're conditioned to ignore our intuition (even when it is right!)
We might be less likely to follow the guidance of our intuition because it is so deeply ingrained in us to ignore it. Western civilization encourages us to think "logically" and prioritize facts over feelings. Our society conditions us from a very young age that risks are "bad" because they can lead to injury or death. We're also told not to follow what we know is right but rather what others tell us is safe - for example, ignoring our intuition to go for a walk and instead staying indoors because it might be too dangerous. However, by staying inside we might miss out on meeting someone who could be a great friend (or the love of our life).
It can seem like letting your guard down is dangerous, but it's actually the opposite - we're safer when we let our intuition guide us. This means that before you make a decision or take action, ask yourself if this choice feels right to you. If the answer is no, you might want to reconsider before making that choice or acting on it.
If we want to be more intuitive in our thinking, it is best to let go of the feelings and beliefs that were shaped by our past. Your past relationship experiences - familial, platonic, or romantic - can affect how you think about yourself today. If this sounds like something you're struggling with, remember there are support groups and therapists who might be able to help guide you on a new path. There are also ways for people around us - friends or family members - to provide assistance where needed so that we don't have to struggle alone!