How To Use Intuition in Business and Other Valuable Lessons from “Ask Gary Vee” by Gary Vaynerchuck

How to use intuition in business

A few months ago, my colleague and friend Alex has surprised me for my birthday with the awesome book “Ask Gary Vee” by the one and only Gary Vaynerchuck.

(You can check out Alex’s website and the podcast we do together here.)

And Alex, If you’re reading this, thank you again, I’ve devoured the book! ☺

Back to today’s post now.

This is a “pay it forward” type of article.

I’ve received the book as a gift and I want to share with You a few valuable lessons on intuition, self awareness, the power of your word, depth and width, failure and success in life and entrepreneurship, patience, empathy and gratitude.

So without further ado, here are my highlights from “Ask Gary Vee”.

Q: If you could teach everyone in the world one thing you’ve learned, what would it be? (p.218)

My dad thought me word is bond, but as crucial as that lesson is, I think it’s a lesson that was uniquely important to me because of my personality.

Here’s the one universal rule I would try to teach everyone: depth matters more than width. That is, the smallest, meaningful, intentional act will mean more than a huge one that lacks intent or substance.”

These two rules don’t talk directly about intuition but they are totally valid for anyone looking into getting more attuned with their inner voice.

Going about in life respecting the rule “word is bond” will make you more responsible and aware of what you can and can’t do.

You’ll be more careful with your “Yes” and “No” towards others and towards yourself.

As for the second rule, “depth matters more than width” I should write it on my desktop picture and on a sticker on my fridge.

As a recovering “look-something-shiny-girl” I appreciate and value so much the people who are focused and determined to follow through on something as long as it takes.

And when it comes to listening to your intuition, going in depth with one tool or technique that helps you, like meditation, or yoga, or whatever works for you, is much better than spreading yourself too thin and trying every new and cool “shiny object” that comes your way. 

Q: What usually prompts you to walk away from great opportunities? (p. 272)

“My intuition. It allows me to walk away from bad opportunities that may look good on paper.”

“I’m not an analytical thinker, and it’s not often that the data tells me an investment is going to work.

I taste and observe, and if I don’t feel it’s a good investment, I don’t do it.

I think many more people who read this have to find a good balance between their numbers and their gut. It’s a science and an art, and anyone who tells you otherwise has a vested interest or just doesn’t get it.”

I’m so excited to read or hear Gary Vaynerchuck talking about how much he relies on his intuition in his business decisions.

From a new investment opportunity to hiring a new person he always uses a good balance between reason and gut feeling.

I totally agree with him on this one and you can find more about the fine art of balancing analytical and intuitive thinking in this post about the lessons from “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell here.

Q: What was the biggest decision in your life that made you successful today? (p. 284)

“It was the day I made the choice to suck at school.”

After getting an F at a science test, crying and being afraid to show it to his mother, trying to make sense of why he was having such an intense reaction to that test he had an enlightening moment.

“And then it hit me, the thought that changed everything: Screw school. I’m a businessman.”

He decided to accept the pain of getting low grades and being named a “loser” at school, while focusing on what he enjoyed doing and was good at: selling baseball cards, later turned into Wine Library and Veyner Media and everything else that he’s proud of.

“That moment marked the first time that I decided to fight what society expected of me and deliver on what made me happy. And you should, too. Bottom line: stop doing things that make you unhappy.”

Being self-aware from such a young age helped Gary realise what he was meant to do and he had the courage to embrace it.

Even if that meant years of sucking up the bad grades and all that came with it like being called a “loser”.

Many a times when you want to go your way, the one that your intuition tells you to, those around will not get you.

Your family, your school, your neighbours, your co-workers will tell you you’re wrong for not going with the established way.

It’s not easy to go left when everyone says go right.

But you have to do it if that’s your calling. On the short or medium term, yes, it will suck. But on the long term you’ll be much better off.

Q: What was the toughest thing you’ve ever had to do for your career? (p. 285-286)

“Historically, my answer has always been that it was leaving the Wine Library and starting my venture in Vayner Media, but that’s not the whole story.

Truthfully, the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do professionally was decide that I was okay putting myself out there.”

Going from being tagged “Wine Wiz Kid Builds Business” to “self-promoter”, “social media guru” or “author” when he started reaching out to larger audiences through his online actions was not easy.

He had to accept that some of the entities and people he had admired were now “rolling their eyes” considering he had taken a step back.

“But, once “I was able to accept the fact that I was going to enhance my accomplishments and live at ease by being me, at the expense of the establishment’s respect, I was able to carry on and create everything I have today.”

I’ve chosen to put this lesson here for a very good reason.

One of the most important things you need to do when you are trying to follow your intuition, regardless of your professional or social status, is to accept that being truthful to yourself and embracing it, is going to make some people “roll their eyes”.

But it’s the only way to live a sane and fulfilled life.

And you don’t need to be a multimillion dollar entrepreneur to face these challenges.

It is available for every single person, on their own level, in their own circle.

There will always be an authority figure or someone who you admire and respect who will roll their eyes in front of your authentic self.

And it’s tough to go your own way. The quicker you do it, the happier and better you’ll be.

Q:What are the three values do you hold highest in life? (p. 244)

“I have more than three, but these are the three I look for in a new hire.

  1. Patience – “I want to work with people who believe in paying things forward and doing good for others, but I want to know that they don’t do that expecting immediate gratification.”
  2. Word is bond – “When you make a commitment, no matter what, you stick to it.”
  3. Empathy – “I hire for this one because I know it’s what makes a great leader. I need to know that my managers are going to listen to their teams and work with them, not drive them, especially when problems arise.”
  4. Gratitude – “I like people who don’t take anything for granted. It makes for a motivated worker, and generally a nice person to work with.”

Patience, word is bond, empathy and gratitude.

No matter what you do, how old you are, what country you live in, if you’re single or married, no matter your skin colour or religion, if you stand by these 4 values your life will get better and better.

You’ll be an inspiration for those around you, your co-workers, your family, your community.

And isn’t this what we all (secretly) want? 😉 To make a dent in the world, to leave a mark, to make Earth a better place to live on?

I believe you can do this even if you are not Gary Vee, Elon Musk or Richard Branson.

By being true to yourself and respecting the truth of others, by listening to your intuition, by respecting your word, by showing empathy and by being grateful you are like a candle in a dark room even though you don’t feel like one.

Even if right now you don’t realise the influence you have on others, I’m here to tell you that You matter.

You are important.

And you and I, even if we’re not famous or rich or highly influent, we do matter and we influence those around us every time we interact with them.

So let’s be the best versions of ourselves, learning continuously from those we admire and inspiring those who are a step behind us.

With all my love, 

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 16.48.45

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Resources: “Ask Gary Vee” by Gary Vaynerchuck

When to Blink and When to Think? – Lessons from “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

In today’s post I’ll share the most valuable insights I got from reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.

But before diving in, I want to ask you a question: don’t you hate it when you want to have a hot water shower and you get a cold one? I know, I do too. 

Brrrr, I get the shivers even now, when I remember it. But, there’s a valuable intuition lesson hidden under this cold shower.

I have a little story about a tiny-cold-water-moment that lead me to ask powerful questions about intuition and knowledge that goes beyond the logical mind.

If you don’t have time and you’re eager to get to the “Blink” part just scroll down. But if you want to know more, grab a nice cup of tea, make your self comfortable and read on.

The Hot & Cold Showers and “Brush your teeth” story

Last summer I was in a 10 days meditation retreat in the Romanian mountains. The conditions were, let’s say, very basic in terms of showers and toilets.

We were sometimes spoiled with hot water that was sun-heated. Because it was unusually hot, the cold water was not thaaaat cold. So I would have a shower even when there was not enough hot water.

But I still wanted to enjoy the warm water, so I was trying to figure out the best time to hit the showers.

I thought that if I managed to get there among the first women in my group, I would be able to catch it more often. So one day I ate my lunch quickly and ran to the showers. Surprise, still no hot water.

Hmm, so my rational judgement and hurrying into the shower didn’t help, darn.

The next day I decided to not hurry at all and I was prepared for and at peace with the perspective of a cold water shower.

So I got there and as expected, there was no hot water. Oh well, I was expecting this, no problem. I finished my quick shower and I started drying myself. 

Then all of a sudden I had this powerful thought: “I should also brush my teeth”. Hmmm, this was right after lunch, and I usually brush my teeth in the morning and in the evening only. 

But the urge to do it was very strong. So I followed it and turned the shower on again.

After a few drops of water, surprise: hot water!

I smiled and thanked this inside voice that made me turn on the water again. So I was able to also wash my hair and enjoy the luxury of hot water.

Then I started wondering: where did that thought that made me brush my teeth in that particular moment came from? Was it just a pure coincidence? I don’t know.

A purely rational person would say that yes, it was just a coincindence. 

But I am not a purely rational person and I believe there is more to us than our logical reasoning.

So I chose to believe that this was the voice of my intuition

This is just one tiny example of how my intuition has been guiding me throughout my life. 

And I believe this is relevant because our lives are made out of millions of tiny moments like this one. 

And I can’t help wonder how many other millions of moments I discarded what this voice was telling me?

Because I was too caught up in my mind, or distracted by the outside world, or too caught up in my emotions or… whatever other reason.

So I started looking for what other people had to say about intuition and how it works.

I started reading books, and scientifical studies and research, trying to figure out how our body-brain-soul system functions and how I can better use it to live a happier and more meaningful life. 

“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell is one of those books, that I’ve recently read. 

I read it with the intent to discover:

– insights about what makes a good decision maker

how intuition is involved in our decisions

– what is a good balance in between intuitive and rational cognition when making decisions

In the next part of this post I will share my findings with you. 

So even if you don’t have time to read the book you still get to learn something from it. Although, I encourage you to read it, it’s an awesome read. 

“Blink – The power of Thinking without Thinking”

“Blink” is about the moments when we know something without knowing why.

Like an art expert that sees a 10 million dollar sculpture and instantly knows it’s a fake.

Or a marriage analyst who knows within minutes if a couple will stay together over the years.

A fire fighter who senses something’s wrong and gets his team out a blazing building seconds before it colapses. 

I’ve been curious to discover how these moments are possible and how we can get better at “snap decision” making all my life.

Because from my own experience I’ve realised that I made a lot of “good” decisions in an instant and a lot of not so good ones following a torturous pros and cons process that has lasted from minutes to hours or even weeks.

Or I would spend almost two years in a job I didn’t like anymore before building up the courage to leave. 

Yeah, I know how it feels to be unable to decide one way or another.

I call this thing “chronic undecisivness”.

I wish I could take back the time and energy waisted in this process and use it for actually creating something and moving on.  

So because I know how much this can affect your life, I decided to help myself and others like me become better decision makers, saving time and enjoying our lives more. 

So, without further ado, let’s get to

The Most Important Lessons from “Blink”  

The vast majority of the stories or case studies that Gladwell shares in his book talk about what I call “the expert intuition”. I described the different types of intuition here. 

This is a superior type of “knowing without knowing why” that we get to after years and years of deliberate practice or experience in a certain field.

In the book we see the examples of the art expert, or the fire fighter, or the marriage analyst, or the experienced marine corps commander.

They are all capable of figuring out things in seconds that any unexperienced or novice would never be able to see. Even with the help of the latest technologies and scientifical research and instruments.

Their stories reveal this type of spontaneous kwowing that surpasses the rational, slower one. 

But there are also other examples of experiments made by researchers to assess our unconscious biases.

And this research showed that in many cases, our snap decisions are not accurate, and they lead us into making bad decisions. 

Like the example of Warren Harding, one of the presidents of the United States, in the begining of the 20th century.

Gladwell explains how this guy got elected because he looked and sounded like a good president. He only served for two years, and he’s been one of the worst presidents in the history of the USA.

So that’s one of the dark sides of “thin slicing”.

“Thin slicing” refers to our ability to make snap decisions based on a few aspects of the perceived reality.

And because our perceptions are influenced by our upbringing and our cultural environment we are not even aware of how biased our actions or conclusions sometimes are.

So this leads us to an important question: when should we rely on the intuitive insight, which in neuroscience is associated with System no. 1, and when should we use System no. 2, the rational, slower one?

On page 141, Gladwell says:

“Truly succesful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” 

In the examples in the book, one is about a very succesful car salesman, named Bob Golomb.

This guy was very good because on one side he instinctively knew how to read his prospects and connect with them on a genuine, human level.

He immediately figured out if they were tired, confused, thirsty and addressed their emotions and needs before anything else. But he also knew how to resist his snap judgements that might have made him dismiss some of his clients, like a young teenager or someone dressed in farmer clothes.

He treated every single person like a viable client, no matter how they looked like. He knew from experience that the young teenager might be back with his parents the next day, or that the poor looking farmer might be richer than most of the elegant customers.

On the other hand, “deliberate thinking is a wonderful tool when we have the luxury of time, the help of a computer, and a clearly defined task, and the fruits of that type of cognition can set the stage for rapid cognition” (p 141)

And on the same page he continues:

“In good decision making, frugality matters.”

Getting overloaded with more and more information doesn’t help our decision making process, on the contrary.

“Less is more” is a proven principle for being able to make good decisions. 

The Jam Experiment in California

Out of the many examples, the experiment with the jam conducted by Sheena Iyengar in Menlo Park, California is very relevant. She arranged a tasting booth in an upscale grocery store. Sometimes the booth had 6 types of jams, other times there were 34 different types. 

Common economics sense would say that the more choice we have, the more we buy. The experiment proved a staggering difference in sales, in the favour of the 6 types of jams booth. 

Faced with too many options we feel paralysed and we prefer to postpone the decision. 

So in order to preserve our ability to make snap decisions we need to protect the frugality. 

In terms of finding that sweet spot between analytical and instinctive decision making, General Van Riper’s words, that Goleman quotes on page 143 are enlightening:

“When we talk about analytical versus intuitive decision making, neither is good or bad. What is bad is if you use either of them in an inappropriate circumstance.”

Van Riper explains that all the rational thinking is very useful during preparation for a battle.

But when it comes to actually being on the battlefield, under gun fire, all the rational, “let’s talk about this to come to a conclusion” doesn’t make any sense. You need to make a snap decision, act upon it and move so you can survive. 

When to Blink and When to Think?

In the “Afterword” of the book, Gladwell adds some more valuable studies in the quest of finding an answer to this burning question: “when should we rely on instincts, and when should we use conscious thinking, like making pros and cons lists”?

And as much as I wanted to find a deffinitive answer, Gladwell is consistent to keeping a balance and a common sense. And I can’t not agree with him: 

“The truth is that this is not a question that I – or anyone else for that matter – can answer deffinitively. It’s just too complicated. The best we can do, I think, is try to puzzle out the right mix of conscious and unconscious analysis on a case-by-case basis.” (pg. 269)

The Cheap Department Store & The IKEA Experiment in Holland

Before reaching this conclusion he mentioned a studied made by a team of Dutch psychologists from the University of Amsterdam. 

In brief, in the first phase of the experiment, they asked people who have just come out of a Dutch department store that sells relatively cheap items, how much time have they reflected before making the purchase.

And after a few weeks, they called them to ask how happy they were with the things they bought. The results were like this: those who have spent time to deliberate before purchaising were happier than those who have made impulse buying. 

In the second phase they repeated the experiment at the furniture store IKEA, where people make more complicated and more expensive purchases. “Now the reverse was true. A few weeks later, the thinkers were least happy, and those who had gone with their gut instinct were the happiest.” (p. 268)

The researchers argued that their findings represent a fundamental principle of human cognition and that “there is no a priori reason to assume that it does not generalize to other types of choices – political, managerial, or other wise”. (p 268)

And, to add to the arguments supporting the unconscious decision making when it comes to complicated issues we find on the same page this quote from Sigmund Freud.

Who, we can all agree, has had a major contribution to psychotherapy, but his work was far from perfect, thus all the other currents and approaches that have evolved since in the field.

When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.” – Sigmund Freud

But there are also many other examples and studies that prove that we can be very wrong when making snap decisions, being under the influence of our unconscious biases.

Like in the case of the classical music world where women have managed to become part of the orchestras only after a screen has been implemented during auditions, so the jury could not see if the candidate was a woman or a man.

Or like in the case of Cook County Hospital where doctors have been taught to retrain their instincts based on a computer generated procedure when diagnosing a heart attack. 

So, as much as I wanted to be able to give you the ultimate, deffinitive answer to the question “when to blink and when to think?” I have to agree with Gladwell.

There is no 100% sure answer or recipe that you can follow in any given case. Because we are complicated beings living complicated lives. 

So the best suggestion I can reach to is to keep practicing the fine art of making decisions, taking into account all the findings in this book and always coming back to your life experience. Thus you’ll be able to find your own golden path and right mix of unconscious and conscious thinking. 

With all my Love,
Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 16.48.45

 

 

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Resources:
“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

So You Caught A Cold? Here’s What I Do To Naturally Heal And Reconnect With My Body’s Needs

How to heal from a cold naturally and reconnect with your intuition

As I’m writing this words I’m still recovering from a cold.

What can I say, nothing sexy to talk about: my nose is running, my head feels like it weighs more than usual, and I can barely keep my eyes open.

On top of this I sometimes cough my lungs out making a sound similar to a gracious donkey. (What, who said donkeys can’t be gracious?)

Anyway, I’ve been observing myself carefully these last couple of days, since the first symptoms creeped in: from the moment it started with a sore throat and up to the current phase. 

My Take on Naturally Healing a Cold

In the last couple of years I’ve been consciously working on improving my natural immunity by avoiding any of the usual drugs: from the aspirin to the antibiotics.

So my approach to this is to take some vitamin C, eat garlic, ginger and onions, drink fresh juices and herbal tea, have salt baths and feet massages and rest as much as I can.

In the beginning, after my body has been used to the help of drugs it took me almost 2 weeks to fully recover, from which one week I would be totally out of order. 

Gradually this time has shortened and the intensity of the symptoms has lessened. 

Like today I took the day off from work but I was still able to to go out and get groceries to prepare my fresh juice and hot soup.

It’s more uncomfortable on the short term to deal with the regular colds this way, but on the long term the benefits are worth it. 

Now, on the side of the mind-body machinery and how the state of one influences the other, there is no better time to test this theory than in times of catching a cold. 

Using The Feeling Sick Days To Observe The Inner Dialogue

I used to get very sad and depressive the moment I started to feel sick.

This happened because I didn’t have the practice of meditation, of observing my thoughts, my emotions or my physical sensations as such, without identifying myself with them.

So I was constantly in the grip of the ever-changing moods and physical states.

Now, I’m not implying that an aching body and high temperature are something to make us jolly but we can observe our thoughts related to these aches and pains.

And by all means, if your state gets worse, go see a doctor, it might be something more serious than a common cold!

But if all you got is an ordinary cold, you can use these days to deepen the connection with your body and your intuition.

From my experience, this is a very good practice to develop mindfulness and re-connect with our unchanging core.

In times of physical unease observe without judgment or impatience what arrises in every moment. 

Like, instead of going:

“Oh shit, I am sick again and I have ALL this work to do! I can’t be sick now, I don’t have the time for this! I hate my body for failing on me again…etc.”

you could try this approach:

“I feel I have a sore throat and an aching body and my overall energy is very low. Although I do have loads of work, if I experience this it means that I have neglected some basic needs of my body and is time to honour them. Yes, it feels uncomfortable, but this is a normal phase of my body healing itself. I love and approve of myself even though I experience this cold.”

And then really give yourself the time to sit with yourself, resting and observing the miracle of your body healing and helping it as much as you can with natural remedies.

Anytime an unpleasant physical sensation arrises observe it, name it and let it be.

The best mantra in times of feeling like crap: “this too shall pass!” It works like a charm, but you have to be persistent.

I also like to remind myself of this joke: “The common cold is healed with treatment in 7 days, and without treatment in one week.”

Other Meanings of Catching a Cold

Our body is our gateway to our intuition and the more we become aware of its needs the more we can understand its signals.

If we have neglected ourselves and caught a cold it is usually a signal that we need to rest and spend time alone.

Cold is also said to be a sign of confusion, in some books that address the emotional causes of sickness. Thus having a cold gives us the break to sit and think things through. 

So if this applies to you it might help to do some free writing and just dump all the thoughts that go through your mind on paper. Who knows what answers might come out of that?

Wrapping it up:

If you want to deepen the connection with your body show respect for its natural healing mechanisms when you catch a cold.

Allow yourself to rest and help the healing process by eating less solid food, drinking loads of fresh juices and herbal tea, and taking natural remedies like garlic or ginger. 

And do not judge or reprimand yourself for getting sick.

Accept it and observe whatever happens in your body, reminding yourself that in a couple of days you’ll feel better.

Do this little mindfulness practice and you’ll deepen your connection with your body and your inner voice.

With all my love, 

Raluca

P.S. I am feeling a bit better now that I’ve shared this thoughts with you. Take care! 🙂 

 

 

Negative Emotions – Why You Should Not Repress Them and How To Use Them To Reconnect With Your Intuition – Part 2 – Guilt, Shame, Jealousy, Envy, Resentment

How to handle your negative emotions

Hi, beautiful soul.

Don’t you hate it when you get in the grip of guilt and then you feel like stuck in a black hole?

Or when you feel the stings of jealousy so strong that you can’t sleep at night?

I know I can’t stand feeling like this. Cause it sucks. Big time!

So what should we do?

Hide in the dark and hope it will pass? Meh.

There are other ways. Keep reading.

This post is the second part of the series dedicated to negative emotions: what to do about them for the highest good, of yourself and anyone around you.

If you haven’t read the previous post make sure you check it out before reading this one. There I explain a few of the neurological and hormonal changes that happen in your brain and body when you are subjected to anger

I also touch on the buddhist view of things, which, quite surprisingly, is very coherent with what modern science has to say. Only that it uses different words. Go figure!

And you get tools to handle anger without repressing it or acting it out in ways that would make you regret it later. Very quick overview: take the elevator; imagine your emotions as guests; meditate to create a buffer. 

So, now that we’ve done this little recap, let’s dig into today’s topic.

The other major guests in your house that you usually don’t want to host or cater to for more than it is necessary for their message to come through are:

Guilt, Shame, Jealousy, Envy, Resentment, Sadness

To make this easier to follow we’ll tackle them one by one. We’ll get to the first one in a minute. 

Before that, let me give you another perspective on how we deviate from our loving, pure, perfect core, which is our Soul,  and end up acting out different roles: The Helpless Victim, The Abuser, The Saviour, The Bitter Resentful Bitch, The Shamed Child, The Sad Joe or The Angry Jane.

(I’m so good at playing the Helpless Victim, which one is your favourite? 🙂

And of course there are many other combinations of these “personas” or roles that we embrace throughout our lives, but for today we stick to only a few.

The thing is like this: when you are a child, you are dependent for your survival on the adults around you. There’s not much you can do in your first years of life, so you often feel helpless and dependent on other people.

And because of that you have some basic fears that are meant to keep you alive: 

  1. fear of death – survival mode
  2. fear of not belonging
  3. fear of not having intimate connection
  4. fear of being alone

So because of these basic fears, anytime an important figure in your life does something that keeps you from manifesting your Soul’s desire, which in essence is pure love, joy, creativity and has a desire to help everyone live their truth, you suffer a shock. Bang!

And then you only have 2 options:

  1. you go into soul retreat – which is what a depressive state looks like
  2. or you create a persona, a mask that will allow you to go on living, even if not from your true core. 

So throughout your life, in the process of education, depending on how nurturing or abusing your parents and other authority figures have been, you’ll create less or more of these personas so you can survive.

Are you still with me? Good.

The problem is that, even if you don’t need them anymore as an autonomous adult, they’ve become so accustomed to you that you think: “this is who I am”.

You think you ARE a an angry, sad or guilty person by default. 

Which is not true.

Or you think that when [A] happens – (replace [A] with any event or person that will trigger these personas) your only choice is [B] (replace [B] with any of the personas that helped you survive as a child).

That’s why you need to understand these masks and make an effort to create that buffer that will allow you to disidentify from them and act from your strong, beautiful Soul. 

I see now how this theory is supported and complemented by the neurological pathways one that I told you about in the previous article. 

Anyhow, let’s get to these personas or masks that we all cary around as our second skin or really tight suit ☺. 

The “magic” trick is that whenever a trigger comes up we should do the following: observe the persona that awakens and become aware of their presence; e.g. “Oh, I see I am acting out as The Helpless Victim now”…hmmmm…interesting.

This process of observation allows us to take a step back and then the magic happens: we can then CHOOSE if we want to act from the persona’s or from our our Soul’s perspective. Yey! 🙂

Good, now that you’ve found out the magic trick we can all go have an ice cream. That’s it.

You don’t need to read the rest of this long post.

Unless you want to find out the specifics about each of these negative emotions.

Still here? I prefer guilt-free-chocolate-ice-cream with a sprinkle of shameless-vanilla-topping, in case you want to bring me some.

Good, now let’s talk about the first guests:

Shame and Guilt

Well aren’t these two a nice pair!

There a million reasons or triggers that might make us invite these guests into our houses.

It’s important to know that what might be a trigger for me might be completely irrelevant to you, and viceversa. (Like you might like pistachio ice-cream, while I would pass by it completely not-interested.)

From the perspective of your Soul’s or heart’s reality, you feel shame when:

– you are trying to invade someone’s space in an abusive way

– you are using more power than necessary over someone less strong than yourself, like a child or an old person

– you betray your Soul, going against what feels right for you

The hidden message of Shame: you’re doing something wrong to someone else or yourself. 

Shame turns into Guilt if you succeed in hurting another person or continue betraying your Soul’s truth by going in the wrong direction.

The hidden message of Guilt: I will torment you until you do something to make a mens. 

Soul Solution: do something to repair the abuse that you’ve consciously or unconsciously done over someone; or stop, breath and reassess the path you are going and then choose the one you know is right for you. 

 

False Guilt or False Shame

I can hear you think: “whaaaat, is there such a thing as false guilt or false shame? How can I experience a “false” feeling? I know what I’m feeling, how can it be false?”  

If you remember, I ended the previous post with this question:

“Did you ever feel weird when someone asked for your help, and a part of you said “yeah, let’s help this poor person”, but another part of you was reluctant, feeling like “nope, they don’t really want my help?”

Anyhow, lemme explain a bit more.

Have you ever experienced this: sometimes, with some people, no matter how much you help them they are never OK? I know it happened to me a couple of times.

And after a while it sucked. I felt like no matter what I was doing that person was never happy.

They continued to ask, ask, ask but they never really did something relevant with the help I offered to get themselves out of their black hole. 

So what in the name of flying unicorns is going on with these people?

There are human beings around us who are so caught up in their dark spaces, so separated from their true selves, from their Souls, that they turn into “professional victims”.

They create an identity from their Poor Me Persona so they’ll trigger the Saviour or the Abuser in the unconscious people around. (“Unconscious” refers to the degree of awareness, not to the fact that someone’s awake or sleeping.)

They become so good at triggering your week points  that, if you are not centred and aware you fall into the trap. Bang, and you don’t even know what hit you! (I’ve just realised I’ve been using a lot of “bang” today!) 

You know there’s something wrong because you experience False Guilt or False Shame.

You are helping them because you feel guilty or shamed not because you genuinely want to help.

This is an uncomfortable state and you might repeat it a few times until you learn to recognise the person who is in a genuine need for help from the one who’s just a Professional Victim. 

You don’t do them any favour on the long term if you continue helping them to maintain this way of being.

Of course it will not be easy to tell them no, they might turn into Abusers but if you keep yourself centred and aligned with your truth they’ll eventually either break free from their persona or get away from you. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Sadness

This guest or persona appears when you separate from what is good for you: a place, a person etc. 

Soul Solution: observe the thing or person you are drawn to and ask for guidance from your Higher Self, your guiding Angels or whatever form of superior guidance you are used to communicate with. 

Resentment

This guest is another aspect of anger. It appears to warn you that someone is using your energy with an impure intent. It relates back to the Professional Victim case above.

Envy and Jealousy

Another joly pair! They are both part of the spectrum of Inspiration. 

You are inspired by the way someone is or by what they have accomplished in their life when you see them and think: “I can also become like them one day or I can also succeed in that regard!”

Envy covers the aspect of having or owning stuff.

It appears when you see someone that has something you also want but you don’t believe you can ever get to that point.

You think something like: “I’ll never be able to buy a house or a car like that!”

Jealousy is about the aspect of being.

It appears when you see someone being in certain way and you belive you’ll never be able to be like them.

For example: “I’ll never be as famous/thin/gracious/rich/happy as them!” 

Both envy and jealousy though have this secret message: if you feel them it means you have what it takes to achieve what you are envious or jealous of.

If the seed for that was not already in you, you wouldn’t have been able to see or recognize those traits in another person. 

The most dangerous form of jealousy appears in couple relationships.

Most toxic relationships are born like this: one person doesn’t express a part of her soul and she’s irrestibly drawn to one that does express it.

For example: a guy who doesn’t express joy or vulnerability is drawn to a very joyful and feminine woman. He thinks he can never express these sides of his Soul and he wants to posses the person who expresses them. Having sex is the closest way of being with and possessing that person. 

If he doesn’t alllow himself to express these sides of his Soul he will become jealous. In time this can turn to distructive jealousy when he might want to destroy what he can’t have. 

This can happen to both man and women, I’ve just given this example to make it easier to understand. 

Soul Solution: whenever you feel envious or jealous remind yourself that you have what it takes to have what you want or to manifest the sides of your soul just like that person you’re jealous of. If this weren’t true you would have past by them without any reaction. 

So it’s on you to take a step back and start acting towards accomplishing your desires using that person as an inspiration and a model of success. Thinking: “If s/he can do this, I can do it too!” will get back on track with your Soul’s truth. 

Wrapping-up

Whenever you feel bad, be it sad, ashamed, guilty, jealous or envious your Soul is trying to tell you something.

It usually means you are about to do or already have done something wrong against your truth or somone else’s truth.

Taking a moment to breath and observe what’s really going on and then taking the reparatory actions if need be will free your house from these guests.

They will go away by themselves. Not because you kicked them out or hidden them in the basement, but because once you’ve heard and listened to their message, their presence is not needed anymore.

Their mission is complete. And you can go back to experiencing your Soul’s reality, which is love, joy, kindness, generosity and creativity.

With all my love,

Raluca

P.S. I know it’s more complicated to break free from our personas’ grip than just to observe them and step back, at least in the beginning. That’s why the next post will be all about practical tools to help you get back on track when you’ve already fallen in a “black hole”. 

 

Negative Emotions – Why You Should Not Repress Them and How To Use Them To Reconnect With Your Intuition – Part I – Anger

How to handle negative emotions - part 1

If you’ve been following the previous blog posts you should have a clear picture of what if feels like for you when you are in tune with your intuition, and also how it feels when your inner voice warns you that you are off-track

In today’s post we go in depth studying negative emotions and how to handle them so they can become a tool for your evolution. 

Forced Positive Thinking = Sugar Coating Your Shit Instead of Owning It

From my experience, especially in the last decades or so, there has been a lot of confusion around “positive thinking” and “positive psychology”, “visualisation” and so on. 

Many people got the idea that “if I just force my self to think positive I will be able to get over the anger” which to me sounds like hiding the garbage under the rug. 

At the other extreme are those who encourage expressing and manifesting your negative emotions in a controled and safe environment, like hitting pillows or a punching bag.

In extreme cases and for short periods of time, these approaches can help you. 

I experienced both of them, and yes, it feels good to hit a punching bag for a few minutes. And it’s helpful to repeat myself a soothing phrase when I feel I’m on the verge of acting out in a distructive way. 

But, for the long term, these approaches don’t work very well. They are OK solutions for short term situations, once you’re already in the grip of a disturbing emotion. 

But what if I told you there is another way? What if you can learn what these so called negative emotions are trying to tell you and then you can choose to act upon or not in a conscious manner?

How To Understand and Own Your Negative Emotions. First Step: Take The Elevator 

No, I’m not talking about a real elevator, but a metaphorical one. 

Lemme explain. In order to understand what your negative emotions are trying to tell you from the perspective of your soul, you need to step outside yourself.

Imagine you’re taking an elevator that gets you a few floors up. Are you there yet? Good. Now look down at the situation you’re in.  Tadaaa! you now have a bigger perspective on it. 

This bigger and higher perspective is essential to help you detach from the grip of any negative emotion. 

You don’t deny it or repress it, and you aren’t feeding it with energy neither. 

You just create a small gap or buffer which will allow you to take a conscious action. Another way of creating this buffer is to think of your negative emotions as guests. 

Second Step: Think of Your Negative Emotions as Guests in Your House.

You can choose wether you welcome them and give them food and water or even a glass of wine, or 

keep them outside your house and not give them any cookies.

Now that we know what we need to do in order to not totaly fall in the grip of our negative emotions, we can start studying them one by one. 

In this approach that I suggest you’ll try and descipher their hidden message from the perspective of your soul’s mission. 

Your Guest Today is Good Ol’ Fashioned Anger.

Anger comes in many forms in your house, and its basic function is to protect you from harm. 

How Does Anger Build Up On Itself Over and Over Again and Why?

Biologically, whenever you get angry your body releases stress hormones that keep you in the “fight or flight” state for hours, even after the event that triggered that state has passed. 

And with every new trigger that puts you again in a fighting mode, your body flushes a new wave of hormones into your blood stream to keep you ready to either fight or run the hell out of there. 

This basic system is what kept us alive in ancient times, when we were litterally facing death multiple times a day. 

The Primarly Function of Anger = Keep Us Safe From Harm

The problem in modern times is that even though a fight with our spouse or our boss, or someone  annoying us in traffic, are not life or death situations, our bodies respond with the same system, the ancient, reptilian brain, triggering the same stress hormones. 

And even though we don’t act upon our anger, but we feel it and repress it, annoying episode after another, inside our body we become cronically stressed. 

Because we are constantly, on a sub-conscious level, always in a “fight or flight” mode. 

We might not even realize this until the build up is so strong that we act in an disproportionate way to a minor fact. 

That’s how you get to see people shooting eachother or beating eachother up just because one crossed in front of the other in traffic. 

Along with the stress hormones build up, every angry re-action reenforces the synapses between the neurons that make you do A when B happens. 

Every Angry Re-Action Adds Another Brick In The Wall 

For example “you start yelling=A when your kid spills milk=B on your new shirt”. 

So every time you repeat this angry behaviour the connections between your neurons are getting stronger and bigger, they build the equivalent of a highway. 

So in time, because our brain loves shortcuts and doing things on autopilot, it will “force” you to adopt the same behaviour, over and over again. 

And in time you will become known as “an angry person”, one that “you never know when is going to blow up”. 

And You’ll End Up Feeling Like You Have No Other Choice But Being Angry

So this is the scientific explanation of how normal people become “angry” people, irrational beings who act out on every little thing that bothers them. 

The Buddhist teachings are calling this compulsive behaviour “karma”. 

It’s basically the same thing described by neuroscience in terms of synapes or connections between the neurons.

The “Compulsive Behaviour” Is What Karma Actually Is

So there’s nothing new under the sun! 

It amazes me how 2500 year old texts describe so accurately what modern science has just recently discovered. 

And this compulsive behaviour applies not only to disruptive emotions, like anger and dissatisfaction, but also to constructive ones, like joy and gratitude. So that’s the good news.

Back to anger now. In terms of your Soul’s wisdom, anger has the basic function to protect you from harm. Its basic message is “you are in danger, protect yourself!”. 

It acts just like your imune system: if a virus or a bacteria invades your body, your imune system will fight it and then it will keep a memory of it so anytime in the future it will instantly recognize it and attack it. 

It’s similar with your lymbic system, responsible to alert you and prepare you in case an outside threat appears: it will attach a strong emotion to that threat so you’ll easily recognize it and avoid it in the future. 

The thing with non-deadly threats, like a querrel, a smal traffic incident, someone bullying you when you were a kid, is that your lymbic system doesn’t really make the difference between these situations and the real life or death ones. 

And it reacts to all of these just like as if your life was in danger. 

Living in modern times represents a very small percentage in the evolution of our brain, whereas the ancient, reptilian one has been around for way longer. 

So it didn’t really have the time to come up with new, more subtle reactions, to make the difference between “a boss yelling at me” and “a tiger attacking me”. For your unconscious brain, these two situations are both enough reason to put you in a fight or flight mode. 

So what can we do? 

First, to learn these basic things about how the brain works, helps you understand a bit what happens in your body when you get in a potentially dangerous situation. 

Second is to get it that anger is almost always a cover up emotion or a secondary emotion, right after the fear of being hurt. 

Anger Is Always a Cover Up Emotion, Usually Hiding A Fear of Being Hurt

In most of the cases anger has multiple possible messages:

  1. warning, this person is going to hurt me 
  2. this person is abusing me
  3. this person has an impure intent even if she acts as if she’s trying to help me

In the obvious situations when someone is violent towards us then it’s easy to understand anger’s role: giving us energy to protect ourselves from the abuser.

In the more subtle situations, when a person acts like their good and nice and wanting to help, but we somehow have a nasty feeling inside and we don’t know why, it might happen because of that person’s impure intent. 

And if we ignore that feeling we might become even more irritated until we manifest anger and we do something to get away from that person.

To sum it up, be mindful that anger is almost never the primar emotion. 

Anger is the secondary one, usualy covering up a fear. 

I’ll give you another example. Even if you’re not a parent you can easily relate to this one. And maybe it will help you better understand your parents reactions every time your were late home when you were a teen 🙂

Let’s say your 15 year old daughter is out at a party with some friends. You agree that she comes home by 23 hours. You wait for her. It’s 23:10 and she’s not home yet. You wait a bit more, a bit anxious. 23:20 you pick up the phone to call her, and she doesn’t answer. 

A mix of feelings and thoughts go through your mind: you are worried “what if something happened?” and you get angry when you think that she’s doing this because she doesn’t respect you, she doesn’t care, she’s just a spoiled teenager and you’ll teach her a lesson when she gets home. 

You call her again and she still doesn’t answer. More worry mixed with anger, depending on the thoughts you feed in your mind. 

23:30 she finaly gets home, saying she’s sorry, there was a minor accident on the way, a car ran into her taxi, nothing serious but they had to stay there and solve the situation with the police and she forgot her phone at her friend’s house and that’s why she couldn’t warn you of being late.

Now, your initial emotion was that you were worried sick for her safety. The second emotion was anger because you didn’t know anything about her and because you assumed she was just acting like an irresponsible teen. 

Now that you’ve found out the truth and saw that she was O.K. you can let go of your anger and express your genuine worry and wish for her to be O.K.

Observe how your feelings change according to the thoughts you have. And untill you find out the truth you’re actually re-acting to an illusion, to a story that you tell yourself in your mind. 

You Can Choose Your Reactions If You Create a Buffer

Here’s where the power of a meditation practice, especially mindfulness exercises, can really help you. 

You learn to not believe or react to every thought you have and you create a buffer where you have the time to take a step back and decide what to believe and how to react. 

Without this buffer it’s impossible to choose how to act and you’re constantly in re-active state. 

You feel a compulsive urge to act in a certain way and think “that’s just the way I am, I’m just a type A person, there’s nothing I can do”. 

Well, that’s simply false! 

Just like you developed a bad habbit you can develop a healthy one: through practice. 

Meditation and Mindfulness Practice Helps You Create The Buffer

And just like with any other big shift that you’ve gone through in your life, there is no overnight magic pill or one big push that you can do and then pufff! You’ve transformed. Nope. 

It’s the small, baby steps that you choose to make every single day and every hour of your life that will take you there.

If you’ve ever trained for a marathon or an ultra-marathon you know what I’m talking about. 

Anyhow, this post is turning way too long. So I’ll stop here for now. 

I’ve gotten into all the details about what’s happening in your brain and in your body when you get angry because the processes are similar for any other emotion. 

The difference is in the type of hormones released and in the feeling good or feeling bad about experiencing them.

In the next post I’ll cover other emotions that we usually label as negative like jealousy, sadness, guilt, shame, resentment, greed from the perspective of their hidden message and how they can help you become more in tune with your inner voice. 

All my love, 

Raluca

P.S. Did you ever feel weird when someone asked for your help, and a part of you said “yeah, let’s help this person”, but another part of you was reluctant, feeling like “nope, they don’t really want my help?” Which part of you was right, in tune with your intuition?

What Are Your Particular Signs When You Go Against Your Intuition?

What are your signs when you go against your intuition

Someone told me once some wise words in a chat about personal development:

“Motivation itself is not enough. If you take an idiot and motivate him, now you’ll have a motivated idiot”.

This made me laugh and also think about the times when I’ve been pushing myself, “motivating” myself in all kinds of ways just to keep going in the wrong direction. Because my gut was telling me “stop”, but I kept acting like “a motivated idiot”. 

Let me give you a clear example: let’s say you’re planning to go on a road trip from Washington DC to Miami, and instead of heading South you go very determined up North, towards Maine. It doesn’t make any sense. And when you’re GPS tells you, “wrong direction, change course”, if you don’t listen to it, you will keep heading in the wrong direction. 

It’s exactly the same with your internal GPS, your intuition. It acts just like the guidance system on your car, except that it doesn’t talk to you so loudly and it also doesn’t give you such precise maps.

It usualy gives you enough info so you can take the next step. And then when you’ve reached it, it will give you info about the next one. And so on and so forth. 

Unlike the car GPS who can layout the whole map with the turns and the twists on the road ahead up to your final destination, your internal GPS is more subtle and gives you insights for the next portion of your path. 

And similarly, if you listen to it, it will tell you both when your’re heading in the right direction (link to week 4 month 1) but also when you’re acting bananas. When you’re actualy heading for peaches. You get my point. 

So we’ve already covered the basics of how your intuition talks to you when going in the right direction, it’s equally important to know the “red flags”, so you know when it’s time to step back or change course. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Step#1: How Your Soul Tells You Are Off Track – What Are Your Particular Signs When You Go Against Your Intuition

If you’ve done the exercise in this post where you’ve practiced discovering your “green light” signs, it will be quite easy to do this one too. Although maybe, just maybe…it might be not so enjoyable.

But, we need the dark to discern the light, so let’s be brave and figure this out, shall we?

For this exercise you’ll need to grab a pen and paper and block 5 to 10 minutes of private time. This means turn off your cell phone and make sure you’ll not be disturbed for the next 10 minutes. 

Ready?

Good. Now breath in deeply, exhale slowly and fully and think of 3 situations from your past experiences when you felt out of tune with life, alone, sad, misfit or angry. Or simply very tired or nervous, anxious without a reason or overreacting to whatever life brought to you. 

You know that feeling, when you hurt your pinkie toe in the morning, spill coffee on your brand new white shirt, arrive late for an important meeting, your boss yells at you for no apparent reason and when you get home your spouse picks on because you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning.

It’s moments like these when you feel like life is punishing you on every corner and you keep getting into the wrong people, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. 

I know this sounds like a place you never want to be in again, so you’d like to forget all about it. But, we need these experiences to help us figure out the signs that our intuition was giving us, but we chose to ignore them, or had no idea what it was trying to tell us. 

Think of these experiences as the mud on which the beautiful lotus grows. Without the mud, there would be no lotus flower, right? 

The exercise consists of remembering these three situations and then describing in writing the following:

  1. The specific situation, in brief. Focus on answering shortly to when? what? with whom? where?
  2. The sensations in your body. For this you might need to let yourself be immersed again in that situation, that’s why it’s good to allow yourself a few minutes. Scan your solar plexus, your tummy, your entire body, your feet, your shoulders, and write down specific sensations. They might be or not similar to: “my solar plexus feels cold and contracted”, “my feet are restless”, “I have a sad face”, “my back is curved” or “I have a heavy, bleah feeling in my whole body”. Each person is unique and has her own signals, make sure you identify yours.
  3. The emotions and feelings you were experiencing: tension, agitation, nervousness, sadness, anger, feeling overwhelmed and so on. These are the most common, you might experience different ones. There is no right or wrong here.
  4. The thoughts you had about yourself and the world. You might have had thoughts like: “I can’t do anything in this world”, “I’m all alone”, “The world is a living hell”, “All is going bad” and so on. It’s important to identify your view of the world while being out of tune with your intuition. 

Hand writing connects you better with your subconscious mind and that is why it’s better to do this the old school way.

After you finish this exercise the end result will be a piece of paper that will contain the basic reference points, specific to You, when you are out of tune with your inner guidance system.

This piece of paper can and should be further developed and refined as you become more aware of your intuition. 

The next exercise will help you do just this throughout your daily activities, without the need to block out 10-15 minutes. 

Step#2: Observe Any Signs of Tension, Unease or Nervousness For a Week

For the next week, observe yourself whenever you have an unease, whether psychological or physical. Observe any tension that you might have in your body, the tone of your voice, the frown on your face throughout your day.

Be very mindful especially in the situations when you know you are most prone to get you in a bad mood. A meeting with a person you don’t like, a trafic jam, a delicate talk with your spouse or whatever. 

If the situation allows you, take a moment to write down a few words about that feeling, without judging yourself. If the situation or your tension tends to escaladate it’s better if you take a few moments to just breath in and out deeply and slowly to help you recenter. 

Otherwise you’ll get back on the hamster’s wheel of your reactions. Even if you do fall back, once you realise it, write it down and observe from a distance what happened and what you can do to prevent it in the future.

It will only take you a few seconds or one minute to do this. You might think this tiny exercise can’t do much for you, but trust me, after one week you’ll start seeing some benefits.

Observing without judging where you are, how you feel, brings you back to yourself regardless of how busy your life is. And it helps you not fall over and over again in the trap of your old habitual ways of getting angry, sad or upset in the blink of an eye. 

After doing this second exercise for one week you can come back to the sheet of paper you wrote during the first exercise and add some new sensations, emotions or thoughts if you have them. 

So that is it for now. I’ll be back in one week with an indepth post on how to develop your skills of dealing with negative moods or emotions on a daily basis, what their hidden message is and how to use that message to further strengthen your connection with your intuition.

Let me know how this was for you in the comments bellow, I would love to hear from you.

All my love, 

Raluca

3 Practical Steps To Get You Centred and Attunded With Your Intuition

3 Steps to attune with your intuition

In this previous post  I’ve given you the absolute begginer’s guide to start tunining in with your intuition. So if you’ve practiced those two steps in the past week you should be already at the “begginer + 1” level up on the way to becoming more intuitive.

If you didn’t read this post yet I suggest you to go read it now or right after you finish this one.

Now that we’ve got this out of the way let’s dive right into today’s topic:

3 Practical Steps To Get You Centred and Attuned with your Intuition

Step#1 – Observe your breathing for 5 minutes every morning

If you don’t have some kind of daily meditation practice already, then for this next week start spending 5 minutes in silence in the morning.

If you wake up a bit earlier than everyone else in your home you don’t even need to prevent them and ask them to not disturb you for 5 minutes. If they are awake, it is a good idea to let them know of your new morning routine.

Good, now that you’ve prepared your environment you’re ready to start.

You don’t need any meditation pillow or special conditions for this. You don’t even need an app, just the timer of your phone.

If you want an app, I use Insight Timer, it’s free on the App Store. I like it because it has a nice bell for the beggining and the end of your set time. And it shows you how many other people around the world are meditating in the same time with you.

Especially in the beggining, this info, that “you just meditated with 1859 people” makes you feel like you’re not alone in this, and that you are part of a worldwide community of likeminded people.

Whatever your chosen timer, set it for 5 minutes and put your phone on airplane mode so your mind knows that there is no chance to be disturbed. This small gesture is very important.

Start by sitting comfortably, on the side of your bed or of a chair, with your back straight, your feet firm on the floor, your hands resting on your thighs or in your lap.

For the next few minutes observe your breathing, notice the air going in and out of your nose. You can keep your eyes open or closed, for me it’s easier to keep them closed.

You can use counting breaths to help you stay on the task. Either way, your mind will wander off a billion times.

That is O.K.

The act of taking your attention back to your breathing every time you notice it has gone somewhere else is what is developing your meditation muscle.

You might judge yourself and think “I’m the worst meditator on Earth” (I know I did ☺ ) but this struggle and constant coming back to your breathing is what meditation is about, at least in the beggining.

In time, you’ll be able to add other objects to focus on during your meditation practice. For the first few months you should stick to training your attention to stay on one object, in this case, your breathing, for 5 minutes. Then yo can gradually increase the time to 10, 15 and 20 minutes or more daily.

The benefits of this simple 5 minutes practice appear since day one. From my experience this helps me set the tone of the day, it makes me feel in control of whatever arrives, and allows me to focus better on the tasks I have to do throughout my day.

Step #2: Observe Your Breathing A Few Times During Your Day

After you’ve practiced your 5 minutes of meditation in the morning it should come natural  to implement this next step: at random moments throughout your day, observe your breathing.

Especially when you find yourself in a rush, or if you feel overwhelmed of the many things you need to do, or just before you eat.

Take a moment and observe your breath.

You can do this right now, as you read these words, take a part of your attention to your breathing. How was it?

You’ll notice that by the simple fact of observing, your inbreath will tend to become deeper, feeling your tummy expanding, and your out breath longer.

It’s not like you’re forcing anything, it just happens naturally.

Benefits

Practicing this simple exercise for a week, will help you get more centred, calmer and more able to hear what your intuition wants to tell you.

Step #3: Consciously Observe Nature Throughout Your Day

This one can be combined with the previous step. Whenever you walk through a park or you look at some flowers on your desk, or simply enjoy the view of the sky through the window of your office, do it consciously.

Be aware of the soothing effect nature has on you. You can add a couple of deep breaths and there you go, you’ve just experienced your short “zen” moment in the middle of your busy day.

Benefits

It might seem like not much, but these short moments are like reset points for your nervous system. Research shows that we can manage stress a lot better if we give ourselves regular “time-out” moments, no matter how short. And we fall into burn-out a lot quicker without these moments.

It’s like if your day was a roller coaster, your conscious breathing moments while connecting with nature would be the pause moments, that allow you to calm down before another crazy loop.

People tend to ignore taking these breaks because they get caught up in the “I have to do so many things, I have no time for zen breathing” mentality. Research shows that these breaks increase your productivity, your overall energy and boost your creativity.

But you don’t need any scientists to proove you anything. You just try it for a few days, or a few months better, and you’ll experience the benefits yourself. Let me know how it was in a week or two.

Wrapping-up

Now you have 3 more easy exercises to practice with untill next week. Don’t dismiss them before you try them.

I practice all of them on a daily basis and I do feel more centred, calmer and more productive. I also feel the difference when I get lasy or I wake up late and don’t practice my minimum 5 minutes of sitting in silence in the morning.

On those days, I feel like things happen TO me and I keep re-acting to them, instead of acting upon them. I feel more scatered and my productivity is affected too. These days are good too, because they serve as a reminder of how good it is to stick to my practice.

So if you’ve skimmed this post, here are the 3 exercises you need to do daily in order to get more centred and attuned with your intuition.

Step #1 – practice 5 minutes of sitting in silence, your eyes closed, your back straight and observing your breathing. No matter how many times your mind wanders off, get it back to the breathing.

Step #2 – observe your breath a few times throughout your day. Start now, while reading this. Good, now remember to repeat this a few more times, at random moments in your day.

Step #3 – consciously observe and connect with nature. Walk through a park, buy some flowers and put them on your desk, or just look at the sky. If you also breath consciously while doing this you’ve just gave your nervous system a smal reset, so you’ll have more energy and creativity in the next hour or so.

Now go out and practice! 🙂

Next week I’ll be back with exercises to help you figure out how it feels when you’re steering away from your intuitive guidance. From all the previous posts you should already know that you have specific bodily sensations, specific emotions and thoughts when you are in tune with your intuition. These are important to keep you on track.

But it is equally important to know what are the red flags when you’re going in the wrong direction.

Untill then keep breathing consciously and being your beautiful self.

All my love,

Raluca

P.S. Leave me a few words in the comments bellow and tell me how you experienced practicing these exercises.

Resources & further reading:

http://www.stress.org/meditation/

Kahn, PH, Friedman B, Gill B et al. A plasma display window?—The shifting baseline problem in a technologically mediated natural world. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2008; 28: 192-199 as found on http://www.stress.org/management-tips 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-j-kriegel-phd/unplug-recharge_b_1333126.html 

http://www.finerminds.com/meditation/why-meditating-11-minutes-feel-better-now?utm_content=29833610&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

How To Start Listening To Your Intuition – The Absolute Begginer’s Guide

How to listen to your intuition

If you’re reading this you should already have an idea about what intuition is and isn’t and have some understanding on how it works backed by science.

If you haven’t read these posts yet, go read them and come back after.

If you did, let’s continue. Since you are aware of the benefits of understanding how intuition works and how it can help you live a more harmonious, joyous life we can start doing stuff to create this.

So let’s get to the nitty gritty of how to actually do something every day to start tuning in with your inner voice. 

I’ve been testing and experiencing many ways to do this, either on myself or with my clients. In this post I’ll give you the absolute beginner’s steps so you can start doing this right after you’ve finished reading this. 

Step 1 – How To Start Listening To Your Intuition Through Your Sensations & Emotions

For this exercise you need to grab a pen and paper and block 5 to 10 minutes of private time. This means turn off your cell phone and make sure you’ll not be disturbed for the next 10 minutes. 

Ready?

Good. Now breath in deeply, exhale slowly and fully and think of 3 situations from your past experiences when

  • you felt in tune with the flow of life,
  • when everything seemed to be happening at the right time,
  • and you were in the right place, meeting the right people. 

You know that feeling, when you felt like all the stars were aligned in your favour. 

These 3 situations can be simple moments when you were alone in nature or with someone you loved, or when you’ve experienced some kind of success: your college graduation, your first promotion at your job…it can be anything that you consider small or big, it doesn’t really matter. 

The exercise consists of thinking about and then describing in writing the following:

1 The specific situation, in brief. Focus on answering shortly to when? what? with whom? where?

2 The sensations in your body. For this you might need to let yourself be immersed again in that situation, that’s why it’s good to allow yourself a few minutes.

Scan your solar plexus, your tummy, your entire body, your feet, your shoulders, and write down specific sensations.

They might be or not similar to: “my solar plexus feels warm and expanding”, “my feet are grounded”, “I have a smile on my face”, “my back is straight” or “I have a warm, fuzzy feeling in my whole body”.

Each person is unique and has her own signals, make sure you identify yours.

3 The emotions and feelings you were experiencing: relaxation, peace, calm, joy, determination, feeling energised and so on. These are the most common, you might experience different ones. There is no right or wrong here.

4 The thoughts you had about yourself and the world. You might have had thoughts like: “I can do anything I set my mind to”, “We are all one”, “The world is a wonderful place to live in”, “All is well” and so on.

It’s important to identify your view of the world while being in tune with your intuition. 

Hand writing connects you better with your subconscious mind and that is why it’s better to do this the old school way.

After you finish this exercise the end result will be a piece of paper that will contain the basic reference points, specific to You, when you are in tune with your inner guidance system.

This piece of paper can and should be further developed and refined as you become more aware of your intuition. 

The next exercise will help you do just this throughout your daily activities, without the need to block out 10-15 minutes. 

Step 2: Ask Yourself 3 Times a Day “How do I feel?” 

For the next week, put a reminder on your phone to ring 3 times a day.

Every time it rings ask yourself: “How do I feel now?” or “How does my body feel? What do I need?” and write a short answer in a notebook or on a note taking app on your phone.

It will take you only a few seconds or one minute to do this, so it won’t affect your productivity. You might think this tiny exercise can’t do much for you, but trust me, after one week you’ll start seeing some benefits.

Becoming aware of how you feel, of what your body feels like or needs in various moments of your day, will help you have a bigger picture of your state of awerness and contact with your intuition. 

Observing without judging where you are, how you feel, brings you back to yourself regardless of how busy your life is. 

After doing this second exercise for one week you can come back to the sheet of paper you wrote during the first step and add some new sensations, emotions or thoughts if you have them. 

So that’s it for now, I’ll be back in one week with 2 new steps that you can add to your daily practice in order to become a better intuitive. 

Let me know how this was for you in the comments bellow, I would love to hear from you.

All my love, 

Raluca

How Intuition Works – Backed by Science – The Other Two Brains In Your Body

How intuition works - backed by science

Steve Jobs gave a touching speech at the 2005 Standford commencement ceremony in which he said “Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

The immediate question that comes to mind is: OK, I want to do this. But how?

How do you hear “your inner voice,” that your heart and intuition somehow already know?

Your best friend on this issue is your own body. You need to rely on your bodily signals when you want to listen to your inner voice.

Why is that? In order to find some answers based on the scientific approach we need to dip our toes into a bit of anatomy of the human body, neurology and electromagnetism. 

Don’t run away just yet, I promise to keep things simple. 

How Intuition Works is Related To How Our Body Works

The thing is our brains and bodies are much more complex than we know.

By having a superficial look at how our nervous system is spread throughout our body we can easily see that: our mind is not just a function associated with the grey matter found in our skull. It’s much, much more than that.

Let’s look at how you are able to stay alive while going about your daily chores, without paying any attention to your body. How is that possible? It’s possible because your body is regulated by your autonomic nervous system.

Millions and millions of actions are taking place every second without your conscious awareness in order for your blood to circle, your kidneys to filter, your stomach to digest, your lungs to breath, your heart to beat and so on.

We have neurons not only in our brains, but also around our heart, in our gut and all along our body, spreading from our central nervous system.

Everything in our body is interconnected and regulated mostly through our autonomic nervous system. Autonomic, cause we are not aware of its actions and it goes on either we pay attention to it or not. We breath, pump blood and filter substances continously, either we are awake or asleep.

So, there is a huge pile of data that is stored on an unconscious level in our brain, about the internal activity that goes on in our body and about our environment.

Continuously adjusting, acting and reacting to the internal and external stimuli, our bodies are doing their job so we stay alive.

Thank God for that, imagine if we had to remember to breath, we would have been dead in a few minutes of browsing our newsfeed.

The Other Two Command Centers…Besides Your Brain

Scientific research on our body revelead that we have two other command centers, besides our brain located in the skull.

There are neurons in our intestines and around our heart.

And not just a few, but enough to make scientist call the enteric nervous system the “second brain”.

And studies made by the Hearth Math Institute revelead that the heart has an electromagnetic field 3 to 5 meters wide around, that constantly communicates with other people and our brain.

So based on these two alternative brains,

we might say we have two types of intuition.

One that resides on the gut brain, and that has as a main purpose to protect us from any potential harmful situations.

And one that resides in the heart, who’s drive is to move us forward, to make us expand and grow.

The first is mostly sensitive to fear-based situations, the latter to love and expansion.

Protection and expansion are their key words.

The Gut Brain

Our nervous system brings information from the brain to the various parts of our body and from these parts back to the brain.

That’s how it works. That’s how you circule your blood, you breath, you digest, you replace old and dead cells, you heal, you grow – without any contribution from your conscious mind, it all happens on “auto-pilot”.

So just because the newest part of the brain is not aware of the millions of operations that the older parts of the brain perform every second to keep us alive, it’s not a reason not to listen to its signs.

On the contrary, because this part doesn’t have words and can’t articulate its message in a language that the newer parts understand, we need to learn to decipher its signs and act upon them.

To make this simpler, when you get the sensation of feeling hungry or sleepy, what do you do? You act upon it: you go get some food or some rest if your present situation allows you to do so.

You are not going to say something like: “oh, that hunger sensation, I’m going to ignore it!”

You might, for a while, but in the end, your body will ask its rights otherwise you’ll get into trouble. You can’t survive too long without water, food or sleep.

Now, if the same intelligent system that keeps you alive, sends you messages about other things in your life – like the new person you just met, the job proposal you received, or the food you should eat, why would you ignore it? It doesn’t make sense, right?

This super-intelligent system not only regulates all your bodily functions so you are able to stay alive without ever worrying about beating your heart or filtering and eliminating the toxins from your food or your drugs, but also stores all your memories.

That’s how it learns to protect you in the future from similar dangerous situations that happened in the past. Even if you do not have any conscious recollection of them.

Now, does this mean that you should always and indiscriminately listen to your “gut feeling”?

As in all matters of life, the golden middle line is the best.

Past Trauma & Your Gut Feeling

There are situations when you might have suffered a traumatic event. Let’s say you had a teacher with red hair who punished you in kindergarten and made you feel humiliated.

You might end up as un adult to have an unusual reaction to all red haired women. You might find yourself avoiding any connection with women who resemble with that mean teacher.

But because you’ve forgotten about the teacher, you can’t explain why “you don’t like the red haired women”. You might think that “it’s just the way you are”.

In this case it’s not such a big deal, after all there are many brunettes and blondes, out there, aren’t they?

But there are countless other events that happened to you and that, unless brought into conscious awareness, shape your behaviour and your choices in life without you even knowing it.

Now, if your life is good and you are happy with it, it means you don’t have much digging to do.

But if you don’t like how your life looks now, you might want to start some digging and cleaning up old emotional garbage, before being able to completely trust your inner gut signals.

The Heart Brain

As far as the other type of intuition, the one that comes from the heart, there is an entire area of studies and experiments that have been made around the functions and power of our hearts.

The Hearth Math Institute, founded in 1991, offers many resources based on their scientific research that show without a doubt that there is much more to our hearts than meets the eye.

And that in the cases where we can’t atribute our intuitive abilities to our subconsciously stored memories or to our  unconscious brain processes, another theory might help us understand them: “our body is connected by sensory perception to a field of energy that enfolds the information we atribute to intuition.”

This is a topic that deserves an article or even a series of articles dedicated to it alone. So expect them here in the near future. If you want to be the first to know about them, make sure you sign up to get the updates.

The trick is to listen to both of them and learn to discern more and more what comes from fear and what comes from love. And then choose whatever you think is best for you.

And also remember to consult with your logical brain, it’s an amazing tool that helps you in so many ways. 

All my love,

Raluca

Resources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/intuition-research/

https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/what-is-intuition/

What Intuition Is Not? How To Make The Difference Between Intuition and The Other Voices In Your Head

The number one question that I get from every person interested in intuitive living is “What is intuition?”. I’ve answered to it in a previous post, you can check it out here if you haven’t read it.

The number two question is “What intuition is Not?” or in other words:

how do I figure out which one is my intuition in the middle of the gazillion other voices that run through my mind.

With intuition, as with any other skill that we want to develop and master, we need to know  the basics:

First, what to look for – as in – what is it?

Second, we need to know what to avoid – as in – what this thing is NOT?

What are the other things that might look like or are similar to intuition, so we don’t get mislead, and find ourselves on the wrong path.

In today’s article you will discover what intuition is not, so by the end you’ll have a clear picture of what the “wrong track” looks like.

The idea is that any time you’ll observe yourself heading for or already being on a non-intuitive path, you’ll able to stop and reconfigure your trajectory.

Just like you would do if that happened while driving your car and your GPS would tell you that you’re heading in the wrong direction.

It’s the same with your intuition. It acts as your internal GPS.

So let’s dive right into how you can make the difference between your intuition and your other tools: instinct, insight, creativity and reason.

The main resource for the theoretical part comes from a study from The British Journal of Psychology (1).

Intuition & Tacit Knowledge

“Intuition draws upon experience and expertise and previous ‘analyses frozen into habit’.

Intuition is an aspect of expertise or tacit knowledge which is drawn upon with varying degrees of automaticity depending upon the interaction of the individual and the context.” (2)

This tacit knowledge, in my opinion, is the sum of all our previous experiences that are stored on an unconscious level.

All our experiences are helping us adapt and adjust to our environment, to survive and to thrive. 

When we become so good at something – like driving a car for example – we are able to drive while having a conversation with someone next to us, or while listening to a podcast, or talking on the phone (using handsfree, of course!).

That is possible because in time, with experience, we’ve managed to transfer all the complex actions needed to drive, from the conscious and slow level, to the unconscious and fast level.

When we listen to our intuition, we listen to the conclusion that our unconscious mind has reached after analysing in a just a few seconds the huge library of the past experiences we cary inside our brains that are relevant to the present situation.

And because that part of our brain doesn’t have access to language it sends us the message in the form of a “feeling”, what we call “gut feeling”.

Intuition & Instinct

Instinct is a “fast, reflexive responses that enable organisms to react to a threat and enhance its possibilities of survival.

Both instinct and intuition may lead to somatic responses to a stimulus; unlike intuition, instinctive reactions are not guided by deep knowledge structures and prior learning and expertise (they are not ‘analyses frozen into habit’)”. (3)

This one is pretty clear: we are all born with instincts.

They are like inbuilt programs in a computer. They are meant to keep us alive in dangerous situation, so they don’t rely on any previous experience. That’s the main difference in between instinct and intuition.

Intuition & Implicit and Explicit learning and knowledge

“Intuitive knowledge may be the end product of implicit learning experience which is stored below the level of conscious awareness.” (4)

This one is very similar to the tacit knowledge one.

Intuition & Insight

Insights are “sudden realisations (‘a eureka’ experience) usually after a period of immersion in a problem and in which an impasse has been reached in its solution (a period of incubation).”

Insight is a sudden moment of enhanced awareness in which a problem solver attains a conscious and clear understanding of the solution to a perplexing problem.

Intuiting on the other hand does not involve conscious and deliberative ‘rational processing’, and intuition is accompanied by a somatic awareness which influences decision choices but the subject may be not consciously aware of the source.” (5)

This one too is pretty obvious: whereas “insight” involves a period of conscious immersion in a problem looking for a solution, intuition doesn’t do it. And “insight” doesn’t imply any somatic experience like intuition does.

Intuition & Creativity

“Preconscious activity which guides or alerts an individual to highly novel, creative, and unusual ideas and outcomes.

Intuition may be involved in the early stages of the creative process by providing somatic signals for or against a course of action.” (6)

They go hand and hand, intuition and creativity. From my experience, the more we cultivate our creative juices, the more we open up for our intuitive voice.

Intuition & Reason

“Should I listen to my intuition or should I listen to my mind?”

This is one of the most common questions I get in my workshops.

Ever since I started studying Buddhist texts (about 2 years ago), I’ve gained a more inclusive approach to life. So I am doing my best to stay away from any “it’s either this or that” situation.

From my experience and study, it’s best to take into consideration both “parties”. Because, as you’ll see in more detail in a future post, in most of the cases your intuition is right.

But, it can happen that you had a traumatic experience with someone, a man with ginger hair let’s say, when you were a child.

And your system, in order to help you prevent this situation from happening again, has created a strong link between “a person with ginger hair” and “danger”.

So every time you’ll meet a person that will resemble to the one in your unconscious date base you will get that sensation in your gut feeling to stay away from them.

In this case, your intuition has been affected by the trauma in the past, and its signals will not be accurate.

So that’s why you still need to use your reasoning side of the brain, at least sometimes 🙂

Wrapping-up

If you’ve skimmed through here then here’s a summary of the main points discussed above:

  • intuition is different from tacit or implicit knowledge in the sense that it uses all the previous experiences that are found on an unconscious level to come up with a quick answer to a specific situation
  • intuition differs from instinct this way: instinct doesn’t need any previous experience to function, it’s a basic program that ensures our survival. They have in common the somatic awareness.
  • insight appears as a result of one immersing in a problem in search of a solution, using their rational brain, whereas intuition doesn’t involve any deliberative rational processing.
  • intuition feeds and leads creativity and vice versa, but they are not the same thing.
  • intuition is way faster than reasoning and happens on an unconscious level. Its end result comes into our awareness through somatic signals and emotions of which we make sense using our reason.

In conclusion, in order to gain intuitive mastery, it’s good to know about your other gifts that complement and enhance your intuition, and use them wisely.

This way you can balance and correct it when it gives you inaccurate info because it  has been affected by a past trauma.

Cooperation and not competition is the key!

All my love, 

Raluca

Resources*:

*as found in (1) British Journal of Psychology, (2008), 99, 1–27

(2)Simon, H. A. (1987). Making management decisions: The role of intuition and emotion. Academy of Management Executive, 12, 57–64.

(3) Dienes, Z., & Berry, D. (1997). Implicit learning: Below the subjective threshold. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 4, 3–23.

(4) Carlson, N. R. (2004). Physiology of behavior (8th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.

(5) Mayer, R. E. (1996). The search for insight: Grappling with gestalt psychology’s unanswered questions. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), The nature of insight (pp.3–32). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. and Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.

(6)  Finke, R. A., Ward, T. B., & Smith, S. M. (1992). Creative cognition: Theory, research and applications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.