Trusting Your Intuition: A Beginner’s Guide

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Author: Maj


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Research has shown that intuition is not a mystical or supernatural ability but rather a complex cognitive process that involves the brain processing a vast amount of information at a subconscious level. 

There are three pathways recognized regarding how intuition speaks to us. But first, what defines intuition…

What is intuition?

Intuition is the ability to understand or know something without the need for conscious reasoning. It is often described as a gut feeling or a hunch that arises from within without any clear explanation.

Intuition can be a valuable tool for decision-making, especially in situations where there is incomplete information or uncertainty. However, there are limitations and it pays to know the science behind it, the different perspectives, how to discern it from emotions, and the risks and gains – read on… 

The science behind intuition

What science suggests about intuition is that it’s a form of unconscious processing that occurs in the brain, drawing on past experiences, emotions, and other factors to arrive at a conclusion without conscious thought.

I explain more in my article on how intuition has a scientific basis.

The different types of intuition

The different types of intuition written about usually come from three perspectives – three pathways:

  • Cognitive
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual


From the cognitive perspective, intuition entails pattern recognition related to our thoughts, ideas, and problem-solving abilities.

According to an article published by Psychology Today, cognitive intuition is a result of our brain’s ability to process information quickly and unconsciously. It allows us to make split-second decisions based on our past experiences and knowledge. 


Emotional intuition, on the other hand, corresponds more to our ability to empathize with others and understand their emotions. It helps us connect with others on a deeper level and make decisions that take into account their feelings.


The spiritual context is associated with a connection to a higher power or spiritual realm. It is concerned with our sense of purpose, meaning, and connection to something greater than ourselves.

Spiritual intuition is a bit more abstract compared to the other two types. It is often described as a sense of knowing that is beyond our rational thinking. It can help us tap into our inner wisdom and guide us toward our life’s purpose. This type of intuition is often associated with meditation, prayer, and other spiritual practices.

How to recognize your intuition

Recognizing your intuition can be challenging, but there are some common signs to look for, such as a feeling of certainty or a sense of peace. 

You may feel like you just know something to be true, even if you can’t logically explain how you arrived at that conclusion.

It is cognitive vs behavioral and it comes to you when you are ‘in the flow’ – when your mind is devoid of ‘noise’.

Contrary to some sources, from my experience, strong physical sensation is not so much intuition but rather instinct. I wrote about that in my article discerning between instinct and intuition.

Recognize Intuition list: A sense of calm and a knowing, Confident and trusting, No strong physical sensation, neutral - not driven by attachment, inner voice of guidance, True Self dominant, Cognitive, In the flow

Tips for strengthening your intuition

Strengthening your intuition can involve practices such as meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature. What’s needed:

  • Create space for reflection. Our intuition often speaks to us in quiet moments of reflection. Set aside time each day to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, and listen for any intuitive insights that arise.

How to distinguish intuition from fear or anxiety

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to intuition is distinguishing it from fear or anxiety. Fear can often masquerade as intuition, leading us to make decisions based on what we are afraid of rather than what our intuition is telling us. 

I expand on this in my article on how to listen to your intuition in relationships.

Overcoming self-doubt and trusting your intuition

Overcoming self-doubt and learning to trust your intuition can take time and practice, but it is essential for making confident decisions.

You might need to recognize the blocks keeping you from trusting your intuition.

Blocks that can hinder trusting your intuition include fear, lack of self-awareness, negative self-talk, and unsupportive environments. 

Fear can prevent us from taking risks and following our intuition. It can also cause us to doubt our abilities and second-guess our decisions. To overcome fear, it is important to take small steps – practice using your intuition on minor things. This will help build your confidence and allow you to trust yourself more.

Also see my article on games and exercises to develop intuition

Another block that may be preventing you from trusting your intuition is a lack of self-awareness. It is important to take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings and to become more in tune with your intuition. This can be done through meditation, journaling, or other mindfulness practices.

Examples of successful decisions made based on intuition

There are numerous examples of where trusting one’s intuition has led to successful career outcomes across diverse fields such as business, sports, and the arts. Here are five:

  1. Steve Jobs – When designing the original iPod, Jobs relied on his intuition to create a product that was both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.
  2. Oprah Winfrey – Oprah has often spoken about how she relies on her intuition to guide her decision-making process, especially when it comes to choosing which projects to pursue.
  3. Sara Blakely – The founder of Spanx has often said that she relied on her intuition to create a product that she believed would be successful, even when others doubted her.
  4. Warren Buffett – Although known for his analytical approach to investing, Buffett has also credited his success to his ability to trust his intuition and make quick decisions.
  5. Maya Angelou – The late poet and author often spoke about how she relied on her intuition to guide her writing process, saying that her best work came from listening to her inner voice.

Potential risks of ignoring your intuition

The risks with ignoring your intuition are missed opportunities and poor decisions.

Just look at Blockbuster in 2000. At the time, Netflix was a fledgling DVD-by-mail service while Blockbuster was the dominant force in the video rental industry. Did Blockbuster’s executives ignore their intuition when they passed on the opportunity to acquire Netflix for $50 million? Today, Netflix is worth over $200 billion, while Blockbuster has faded into obscurity.

Think back to the 2008 financial crisis. Many financial institutions ignored the warning signs and continued to invest in risky assets, trusting that the market would continue to rise, rather than trusting what many were feeling in their gut. This ultimately led to a collapse in the housing market and a global financial crisis that caused trillions of dollars in losses.

In your own life consider the potential risk of ignoring your intuition. Your inner voice may be telling you something important.

The benefits of following your intuition 

Following your intuition can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and purpose in life.

When you follow your intuition, you are more likely to make choices that align with your values and beliefs.

One of the main benefits of following your intuition is that it can help you tap into your inner wisdom and creativity. When you listen to your intuition, you are able to access your subconscious mind and tap into your deepest thoughts and feelings. This can help you make decisions that are aligned with your true self, rather than simply following the expectations of others.

Intuition is a powerful tool that can help us make better decisions and live more fulfilling lives. By recognizing our intuition, strengthening it, and learning to trust it, you can tap into your inner wisdom and achieve greater success and happiness.

intuition, heart of substance

Heart of Substance

covers the importance of intuition in relationships, business, career, and study. Who uses it? Why trust in it? How to develop it, and more...

Me Hos

Hi, I'm Maj. I'm the founder and editor of this site where you'll find articles about trusting your intuition and looking at synchronicities in everyday life. My articles are based on lived experience and what I discover in literature, research, and other's expressions of their experiences.