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The Struggle to Trust Your Gut: Understanding the Obstacles

One of the biggest problems you can have with trusting your intuition is overthinking. You may also feel pressure to conform to societal norms or expectations or other constraints, which can cause you to ignore your inner voice. Here’s what to do…

Trusting your intuition can be difficult for a number of reasons. Here are some common obstacles:

  1. Lack of confidence in your own feelings or abilities
  2. Fear of making mistakes or being wrong
  3. Past experiences where intuition did not lead to a positive outcome
  4. Social conditioning or cultural expectations that prioritize logic and reason over intuition
  5. Stress and angst. External factors that tire you and drain your energy

Overthinking your intuitive feelings, which can happen with any of the above, will lead to doubt and uncertainty.

Let’s say you have a job offer that meets all of your requirements and would be a great opportunity for you. However, you start overthinking and analyzing every detail of the job offer, such as the salary, benefits, and job responsibilities. While doing so, you start to doubt yourself and your abilities to succeed in the position, which leads you to ignore your gut feeling that the job is a good fit for you. As a result, you may end up declining the offer and missing out on a potentially great opportunity.

Here’s the thing…

  • A societal bias towards logic and rationality can lead you to doubt your gut feelings.
  • Past experiences of being wrong or making mistakes can erode confidence in your intuition.
  • Fear of making the wrong decision or being judged by others can also play a role in inhibiting trust in your intuition.
  • External factors such as stress, fatigue, or information overload can interfere with your ability to tune into your intuition and accurately interpret your inner voice.

1. Lack of self-confidence

A lack of self-confidence can prevent someone from trusting their intuition because they may doubt their own abilities to make the right decision. They may worry that their instincts are wrong or that they don’t have enough knowledge or experience to make an informed choice. This can lead to second-guessing themselves and relying on others’ opinions instead of trusting their own gut feelings. Additionally, low self-confidence can make someone more susceptible to external pressures and expectations, which can further cloud their judgment and intuition.

Imagine you have a job offer for a position that sounds great, but something just doesn’t feel right about it. Your gut is telling you to decline the offer, but you start to doubt yourself and worry that you’re being overly cautious or that you won’t get another opportunity like this. Without self-confidence, you might ignore that feeling and accept the job, only to realize later that it wasn’t a good fit for you. Trusting your instincts requires a certain level of self-assurance, and lacking that confidence can make you second-guess yourself and miss important cues from your intuition.

2. Fear of failure

The fear of failure can prevent you from trusting your gut because you may be afraid that following your intuition will lead to negative outcomes.

You may worry that if you make a mistake, it will reflect poorly on your abilities or lead to negative consequences such as losing a job or damaging a relationship.

As a result, you may second-guess yourself and rely more heavily on logic and analysis, even when your intuition may be telling your something different.

This can lead to missed opportunities and a lack of confidence in your own decision-making abilities.

Imagine a person who has always been passionate about painting. They have a clear vision of what they want to create, but they are hesitant to trust their gut and express themselves freely because they are afraid of failing and being judged by others.

This fear of failure may cause them to hold back and not fully explore their artistic ideas, ultimately hindering their ability to produce their best work.

3. Past experiences

Past experiences can shape your instincts and decision-making in the present. Negative experiences or traumatic events can create a sense of fear or uncertainty that can cloud your judgment. These experiences can lead to questioning your own intuition and second-guessing yourself.

Imagine if in the past, you trusted your gut instinct and it led to a negative outcome. For instance, you may have trusted someone who ended up betraying you or made a rash decision that resulted in a negative consequence. This past experience may cause you to doubt your gut instincts in the future and rely more on logical reasoning rather than intuition.

Another example could be avoiding a certain type of food or restaurant because you got food poisoning from it before, even though your gut is telling you it’s safe to try again.

4. Societal Conditioning

Societal conditioning can create beliefs and expectations that may conflict with your intuition, causing you to doubt or dismiss your own inner guidance.

For example, you may be taught to value logic and reason over intuition or to prioritize the opinions of others above your own.

Societal or cultural conditioning can influence your instincts and make you question your gut feelings. It is important to recognize these influences and work towards trusting your intuition while also being open to rational analysis and outside perspectives.

If you’re a person who has been taught from a young age to always follow rules and authority figures, you may have trouble trusting your own instincts, even if you believe something is wrong.

For example, if you are in a situation where you are being pressured to do something you feel uncomfortable with, you may feel hesitant to speak up or take action because you have been conditioned to prioritize obedience above your own intuition.

5. External factors / Distractions

External factors such as stress, fatigue, or information overload overwhelm your mind with distractions. Stress and fatigue can cause mental exhaustion, which can make it challenging to tune in to your thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, information overload can leave you feeling mentally cluttered and unable to distinguish your own thoughts from external noise. All of these factors can hinder your ability to listen to your inner voice and make it more challenging to make clear decisions or take action.

Tips for overcoming obstacles to trusting intuition

Here are some tips I’ve discovered for overcoming these blocks to trust your intuition:

  1. Practice mindfulness and self-awareness to better understand your intuition and build trust in it. Journaling and meditation will help.
  2. Start small by trusting your intuition and build up to bigger things. Train your intuition – see my article on how.
  3. Learn from those that don’t work out and use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  4. Take care of your physical and mental health to build resilience and confidence.
  5. Challenge your limiting beliefs and practice self-compassion.

Here’s more

Self-talk — remind yourself that you have the power to make your own decisions and that your intuition is a valuable tool.

You may also want to challenge any negative or limiting beliefs you have about yourself and your abilities to make confident choices.

It can be helpful to practice mindfulness and tune into your body’s physical sensations to better understand your gut feelings.

Finally, surround yourself with supportive people who encourage you to trust yourself and your instincts.