“The really valuable thing is intuition. The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”
– Albert Einstein
The routines of everyday life—the same rituals in the home or work place—don’t make big demands on our decision-making capacities. But when making decisions under pressure, or choosing between solutions, or while making important choices about a career direction, many of us feel ill equipped to make the right choice. This is because most of us developed logic and reasoning skills through education and learned only to think rather than feel our way through life. So we navigate through life using only our logical left brains as a compass thereby undervaluing the intuitive capacities of our right brain. Most often our intuition capacities remain unappreciated and are largely left unused.
Many of us are hesitant about going with our gut instincts because we believe that they are uncertain. We fail to recognise that intuition serves as a means of self-expression. Whenever you experienced the feeling that something in a situation wasn’t right, then you’ve experienced intuition. Same way, if you ever experienced a situation where everything did seem to come together or right, that is also your intuition.
Why is ‘intuition’ important?
Learning to access your intuitive intelligence is important because of the expanse of information that is available with countless data, opinions, and endless expert advice telling you what you should do. With information coming from all directions, it becomes even more important to rely on your inner guidance system to make good choices and decisions that will guide you towards your best interests.
Research shows that accessing your intuitive capacities is one way to unleash your creativity. Learning to trust your intuition not only helps you in making better decisions but also boosts your creativity, guidance, clarity and confidence. You cannot always consciously rationalise every choice you make. Sometimes you have to go with your instincts, especially when you feel strongly about something. When faced with making tough choices, trusting your instincts can steer you in the right direction and can be a reliable guide in your decision-making process and you will be able to make well-informed decisions. By accessing your intuitional capacities, you will be able to find solutions more easily and be able to develop a complete and a broader perspective of issues outside of yourself.
Intuition is not what most people think it is; it is not what we think. It comes from a different side of the brain from that of logic and is defined as the ability to understand something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning. The ability to understand something, without having to consciously process it, or to rationalise to make sense of it. It is a deep down or subconscious understanding to what we mostly refer to as gut feeling. It is an instinctive response to something that you immediately know, identify, or recognise with.
You probably use or access your intuition on a regular basis without being fully aware of it like for instance,
• when you have to make a decision or a choice and weigh the pros and cons, and are still confused or uncertain, and are at crossroads of your decision-making process.
• when there is too much information to digest consciously in a situation, you tend to go with an option that fits with your intuition rather than the guidance of others.
• When you don’t have enough time to rationalise a probability thoroughly, you resort to an instinctive action.
The intuitive process differs from person to person influenced by factors like their personality, attitude, their environment, culture, and other situations. Your intuitiveness tends to be more aligned with your subconscious of which your reasoning mind is unaware as your intuition depends on the collection of all your subconscious experiences.
So, what impedes your intuitiveness?
We all can access our intuitive capacities. But it depends on how you develop your intuitiveness and stay in tune with it and make it to work. Some factors can impede your ability to access your inner guidance during your decision-making and may let the logical mind control your thoughts and actions. Here are some such factors:
• Your intuitive capacities are fully intact but often hidden behind screen of logic and reasoning. Logic interferes with intuition.
•Lack of focus Often, intuitive messages are drowned by all the noise and activities that are going on in and around you. With distractions you cannot access your true feelings, thoughts and words.
•Lack of awareness of your surroundings and insight prevents you to get in touch with your intuitiveness. Your inner sense impressions most often come to you through one of your five senses. And the lack of awareness of your mental filters and learning to perceive reality objectively makes your intuition distorted.
• You will not be able to access your inner guidance by being fast-paced. The subtle messages go unnoticed and aren’t available to those who has the free attention to notice them.
• You can’t live Intuitively if you have an unhealthy emotional state. If you constantly compare yourself to others, or worry, or stressed, or exhausted, your will end up interpreting your intuition wrongly.
How to improve your intuitiveness?
“Intuition does not come to an unprepared mind.”- Albert Einstein
While making important decisions, we often face difficulty as we rely on only on our conscious mind and get lost weighing many options and variables. The left brain has knowledge, but without the intuitive wisdom of the right brain every decision comes out half-baked. By establishing a cooperative relationship between your conscious and subconscious, you can tune into your intuitiveness to make better decisions. Here are certain ways to access your inner guidance and to improve your intuitive capabilities.
Let go of logic
In order to begin accessing and trusting your intuitive powers, you need to stop being so reasonable and let go of logic sometimes. Logical mind dominates and devalues the intuitive messages and logical thinking distances you from using what you already intuitively know to navigate through certain situations. Use both logic and intuition, but not at the same time.
Trust your intuitive messages
“ If you have some idea you believe in, don’t listen to the croaking chorus. Listen only to what your own inner voice tells you.” – Daniel Carnegie
Believing in your ability to access and understand the messages can help you make better decisions. Trusting your intuition is a way of listening to your basic self through your physical senses and emotions. The better you can see, feel, or hear the inner guidance, the better equipped you will be in accessing your intuitiveness. Have the willingness to trust your instincts, when you feel uncertain or doubtful.
Make time to reflect and relax
You must be receptive, passive and open to notice subtle things that pop up. The more relaxed you are, the more your usually dominant, logical left brain steps back and your intuitive capacities come forward. To access your inner guidance, you have to make time to reflect on your experiences. Reflecting on the past experiences can give you a more objective view of things and makes you more aware of your negative emotions that might be preventing you from picking up intuitiveness of your subconscious.
Apply intuitive perspective
You may sometimes lack sufficient perspective to make a clear decision. How can you know the consequences of a decision ten years from now? you cannot know. But you can gain an intuitive perspective by using your imagination into the future. This enables you to apply intuitive wisdom to a decision by anticipating the future consequences of that decision rather than looking only from view-point of present. Asking questions that are aligned with your goals and seeking answers to them can raise your intuitive perspective.
Believe in your higher self
Intuition must ultimately rely on faith, because your inner guidance does not necessarily lead to risk-free decisions. Sometimes your intuition guides you onto a difficult path. But this doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. Believing in your higher self can teach you to deal with difficulties and evolve in the process.
Finally, Intuitiveness can’t flourish in a busy environment. To access your inner guidance, you have to build in time in your schedule to meditate. In a meditative state, you can gain awareness and let go of your negative thoughts attuning you to clarity. This will make room for your inner voice and can lead to decisions that result in better outcomes.
“ When we consciously breathe, we connect to the present moment. This is when we are most in alignment with our intuition.”
Intuition is not about certainty. It is about trusting and having the courage to treat everything that happens as exactly what you need for your highest good and learning. With the inner guidance you will be able to navigate any situation with a sense of joy and ease. It may not tell you what you want to hear, but it will tell you what you need to do, can be a reliable guide and can be something that is worth following in your everyday lives.
“Follow your instinct. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.” – Oprah Winfrey
Most of the times, we are open about our physical health, but how often do we seriously consider our mental well-being?
Many of us lead busy, often hectic lives, so it is easy to experience certain levels of stress and anxiety that have an adverse impact on our thoughts, efficiency, emotional well-being and overall health.
Thinking is basically a mental process; which helps one define, organise, plan, learn, reflect and create experiences. In-fact human beings think at the rate of 1300 to 1800 words per minute according to a study. This explains why our mind wanders even when we are listening to others. One’s mind has all kinds of fleeting thoughts passing at any particular time. Day to day stressors add on to the kind of thoughts we have and are also one of the reason of we having unpleasant and irrational thoughts that don’t serve us any purpose.
Thoughts on their own will not affect one’s destiny, but if one spends time dwelling upon the unpleasant thoughts, surely then they impact one’s life in every kind of way. The prolonged periods of unpleasant mental state can be detrimental to your mental health and hinder you from performing to your maximum potential. So a lot depends on your ability to think correctly in certain stressful situations and unexpected life situations. Correct thinking is only possible if done so consciously and on purpose. Most of the times it is your beliefs that influence how you think. When you hold on to certain beliefs that don’t serve your interest or values, they give rise to unpleasantness which in turn hurts your ability to be rational, happy and successful.
Your beliefs shape your thoughts
Your beliefs have an impact on how you think, feel and act most of the time. The emotions we feel and the behaviours that arise from emotions are due to the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, people and environment around. Our beliefs shape our interpretations and how we evaluate certain situations and occasionally, due to certain limited beliefs we hold of ourselves, our thoughts can be distorted, biased, or negative thereby giving rise to irrational thought patterns and negative moods.
Because of such irrational thought patterns, we interpret the facts through a distorted perspective and create the impression that imaginary scenarios represent actual facts. If you hold onto negative beliefs, you tend to worry about things that are unlikely to happen. Such biased thinking affects your communication with others, your emotional/ mental well-being as well as your perceptions. Inability to perceive reality accurately leads to errors in your thinking and causes cognitive bias. These biases make you think in a very exaggerated and irrational ways, causing fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Because one’s thinking is so firmly associated with one’s beliefs, it’s not easy to change one’s thinking pattern unless you put in the required work to reframe your limited beliefs.
So, how do you deal with your irrational thinking?
Our minds constantly create narratives as they are pattern making machines. We always like to process facts through our minds and build association that seem to have a logic or rationale behind them. In doing so, we become victims of certain beliefs that aren’t logical, rational, or accurate representation of facts. This is one of the reason why we think in an exaggerated and irrational way about ourselves at times by giving into our negative beliefs. In some ways, our brains get wired to make these errors every now and then making ‘distorted’ or ‘faulty’ thinking patterns.
It is possible to modify your irrational thought patterns by being able to recognise what you are perceiving, assuming, and expecting. Being aware of your irrational thoughts and learning to reframe or restructure them with rational thoughts can be helpful especially when you are in situations that cause anxiety or depression or stress. It is important to learn that situations are not always the cause of our irrational thinking, but it is the way we perceive and interpret the situations. Interpreting the relevant facts of the situation effectively to come to rational conclusions can help in eliminating some of your false assumptions about yourself.
By restructuring your thoughts and reframing the way you interpret a situation, you can deal with your irrational thoughts and slowly make progress towards rational thoughts that are more empowering.
How to reframe your irrational thoughts and limiting beliefs ?
The essential idea behind reframing is that a point of view depends on the frame it is viewed in. When the frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behaviour change along with it. Cognitive restructuring or reframing helps in observing, identifying and modifying irrational thoughts to rational thoughts and negative mental patterns to positive ones. By reframing, you can think constructively and can practice accurate thinking. You can reframe your limited beliefs to new beliefs that better serves you and your goals. Constructive reframing also helps in overcoming certain mood disorders, anxiety, stress or depression. It is about reorganising thoughts, ideas, awarenesses into correct perspective and putting them into practice. Here are some ways to practice cognitive reframing of your limited beliefs.
Familiarise yourself with cognitive errors
When you learn to familiarise yourself with certain errors in your thinking and cognitive biases, you can challenge your limiting beliefs and eliminate negative thoughts. Here are some examples of cognitive errors which leads to irrational thinking.
• Downplaying the importance of a positive thought or emotion or event thereby magnifying the negatives like “useless”, “ failure”, or “inadequate.”
• Drawing conclusions when there is little or no evidence or on the basis of perceptions and not on real facts.
• “Making mountain of a molehill” Blowing things out of proportion.
• Using words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everyone’, ‘all’, ‘nobody’, etc.,
• Emotional reasoning – concluding that your emotional reaction proves something true, regardless of the observed facts.
•Perfectionism – Thinking that you always have to be perfect, sating “should”, or “ must.”
• Thinking there are only two possibilities, when there may be other alternatives you haven’t considered.
•Overgeneralisation – making conclusions based on a single event.
• Attributing personal responsibility for events which aren’t under your control.
• Thinking in extremes like “black-and-white” or “all-or-nothing thinking” (all good or all bad with no middle ground)
Practice noticing when you have these distortions in your thinking and ask yourself what other ways you could think. By being aware of these errors and reframing them can help you overcome your limited beliefs.
Identify the thoughts that are of wrong perceptions and assumptions. Sometimes emotions make it difficult for you to think logically. The beliefs that we hold change how we manage our day-to-day experiences. Examine what are your negative beliefs and which emotions are involved and question how valid they really are. By questioning your negative beliefs and looking for alternatives, you can replace thoughts led by fear with realistic and positive thoughts. Replace obstructive and limiting thoughts with positive and empowering thoughts.
Track the accuracy of a thought
Analyse what the pros and cons of your limiting thoughts and beliefs. Evaluate the evidence for or against your irrational thought. Examine the validity of irrational thoughts and beliefs by asking critical thinking questions like what’s the worst possible and what’s the best possible thing of that thought. Once you narrow down to your irrational belief, you can think of a way to reframe it into more accurate and positive belief. Do not make up super unrealistic beliefs, instead find more positive way to frame a belief without deluding the facts of the situation.
Apply alternative views
There are always multiple perspectives to any given situation or circumstance. When you restructure your beliefs, you can look at the same facts through a new perspective and interpret in a way that can keep you motivated. By changing your perspective, you can make out your previous thinking errors and can transform them into rational thoughts. This way, you can discover the best way to view a situation so that it brings out your best possible self.
Avoid using extreme language
Often while expressing a negative belief or thought, we use exaggerated words like “never”, or “always”, or “very” and we end up identifying with negativity in ourselves too strongly. Instead, you can replace them with “sometimes”, or “at times”, or a “little”. This way you can downplay the negativity by how you speak about these negative traits by describing them in less intense ways. This way you can leave more room for positivity, improvement, and change. Reframe the way you describe your experiences and memories.
Develop mindful awareness
Simple meditation practice can develop your awareness of negative and irrational thoughts. Focusing your attention on your breath allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind. Whenever you notice any irrational thought popping, gently bring your attention back to experiencing the sensation of your breathing. Meditation is a great way to train yourself to be mindful of irrational thoughts and beliefs.
Finally, set your own direction and evaluate your progress. There are many ways to reframe any particular situation. And the way you would want to reframe a situation depends on your current goals, values, decisions and choices you make.
Cognitive reframing of your negative beliefs is extremely effective if used properly and consistently. It can help you overcome your limiting beliefs to become happy and successful. Reframing your limiting beliefs takes time and effort to master, but once mastered, you can keep repeating this positive thinking pattern for better results that add value to your goals. Take time to learn how to change your thinking for better and go beyond your limited beliefs and preconceived assumptions. Always remember constructive thinking is a process, one gets better with practice and experience.
“with simple thinking, we can maximise our focus with minimum distractions.”
Many things influence our lives and decisions we make. The primary influences being the perceptions and most of the times, the mistakes of perception leads to our complex thinking. we get used to the complex processes, procedures and matters in our day-to-day tasks which in turn add to our complicated thinking. We acquire habits, possessions, relationships, needs, etc., which are part of richness and enjoyment of life — but also are the reason of the complexity of our thinking.
We get continually bullied by opportunities which seem to be attractive and get pressurised by them thereby making our lives more complex. Sometimes fear of boredom leads you into a complexity of temptations and pressures of ‘have to do things.’ This makes our thinking a complex process driving us to busyness, approval of others, anxiety, performance and control.
Some of this complexity is created by us and some we accept and take on as part of our daily lives. Having things to take care of, people to deal with or processes to attend to, our thoughts create clutter giving rise to complicated ideas and create confusion and disappointments. We get caught up in the day-to-day complex tasks we have to get done and often run out of time to do the things that really matter and those that are essential.
We get so comfortable things being familiar and certain way that we don’t want to find simpler way of doing things. Simplicity in thinking is something that is deliberate and intentional and should be a choice you make. By adopting to a ‘simple perspective’ in your thinking, you can free yourself from all the distractions and you can maximise your focus on that which is essential, can eliminate complexities, create effective solutions and can reach your objectives or goals much faster.
Simplicity makes it easier to do things. But finding a simpler way is usually not that simple.
The perspective of ‘simple thinking’
Complex is something which is hard to understand, explain, or deal with and leads to inefficiency, wastage of time, attention and mental energy in unnecessary things. But there is always a much simpler way of doing things. The perspective of ‘simple thinking’ and doing is always possible and is very important to improve efficiency and to reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. By identifying areas, matters and procedures which seem unnecessary and replacing them with simple processes, you can learn to take action much faster.
“When we begin pursuing a more simple, intentional life, we obtain a new perspective.”
Perspective of ‘simple thinking’ is a value, a habit and an attitude of mind as much as it is a process. You accept something complex because you are not looking for simple solutions and your outputs also tend to be complex. Simplicity will not happen unless you are prepared to work hard and make a real effort to achieve it. The emphasis needs to be on simple perspective at every moment of your decision-making process.
‘Is there a simpler way to do this?’
‘Is this really necessary?’
‘Does this add to simplicity or complexity?’
By having the intention of making something simple, you can prioritise your actions towards simple processes.
Ways to achieve a ‘simple perspective’
Many of us consider thinking as a complex process because we have never made any attempt to make it simpler. We tie ourselves up in complex rules when in reality, most of our practical thinking takes place in ‘simple perspective’ and is mostly based on self-organising system of brain. So, We can design simple tools for thinking to improve productivity in number of ways and for a more focused effort.
You need not always depend on major changes to make things simple. You can Make slight changes in small things to simplify your efforts of doing difficult things.
Here are some small changes that can be made to achieve ‘simple perspective’ in your efforts of achieving your tasks.
One thing at a time
We are capable of thinking many things at the same time. But if you find matters getting too complex, then it is always better to pay attention to only one thing at a time. It does not mean that you cannot do more than one thing at a time — but you choose not to for the moment.
Express in words
Complexity is difficult to cope with while it remains out of consciousness and you will find it difficult to arrive at decisions. When something seems complex and difficult, verbalise why you are making that choice, the reasons behind your decision. This can simplify and clarify your decision-making process.
Complexity arises when you are trying to deal with more than one matter at same time. If there are two separate issues, separate them out and deal with each one on its own. Analyse and break it down to deal with it one at a time.
Take small steps
If the task is complex, it can be broken down into tiny steps. Certain tasks may seem impossibly complex on the whole, but if broken down to small steps, each step can be simple and doable. It is simpler to focus on the next step than to focus on the entire task.
Concepts are a broad and general way of simplifying things. They simplify the action into stages. Making use of concepts in thinking can simplify your efforts. Once the concept is formed, the details of the concept will still need to be worked out but they set the direction of the action.
Think in stages
Always have a clear objective in mind and figure out how to reach the objective.
• The direction to reach your objective.
• The concepts that can be used in order to move in that direction.
• The ideas that can be used to put those concepts into action.
Thinking in this kind of framework helps you arrive at possible action alternatives to achieve your complex tasks.
Do things slowly
If your mind is minimally occupied, as in doing things slowly, it will be more able to have new ideas. This also helps the mind to clarify or simplify things and requires discipline and concentration.
Things which were needed at one time may be no longer needed. Shedding approach simply involves throwing things out and putting nothing in their place. Sometimes things are ‘unnecessary’ or ‘redundant’. If these things add to clarity they should be retained, but if they add to the complexity of the situation, they should be shredded and thrown out.
Clarity and simplicity go together. What is the situation? What do we really need to do? What is going on? Questions of this sort can clarify and provide thorough understanding of the situation or process. The perspective of simple thinking comes from thorough understanding.
As a self-organising information system, our brain allows incoming information to organise itself into routine patterns. Once we identify with these patterns, we flow along with them without much effort. Setting up routines can simplify your perception and action.
Be determined to seek simplicity.
When things are highly complicated we do often wish for simple perspective. But when things are not complicated we rarely strive to make something simple. Always find simpler ways of doing things. Make the ‘simple perspective’ as part of your normal thinking process to free up time, reduce stress and to make better decisions.
Put yourself in ‘simple perspective’
• Be determined to make an active effort to make things more simple.
• Be motivated and creative to arrive at a possible simple, effective and practical solution to a problem.
• Have the willingness to simplify process instead of coping with complexity.
• Look for simple alternatives and be willing to invest time and effort in that search.
• Spell out in words what you are seeking to achieve. This creates a path to move in defined direction thereby avoiding unnecessary.
• Design the ideal simple process and then seek to work incrementally step by step.
• Consider all the things you are busy with right now and consider how few of these are really necessary.
• Take notice of your habits and cut back on clutter, distractions and focus on the essentials.
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs