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Trust Your Gut Listen to Your Intuition

Trust Your Gut: What it Means and How to Do it with One Simple Exercise

How many times have you heard, “Just trust your gut. Listen to your intuition.”

Okay… sure. But what does that even mean? 

Even though all of us have intuition that leads and guides us through our lives, we’re not always in tune with it. We’re not always listening to it.

And that can lead to a lot of questions: What is my gut saying? How do I know? What will it feel like? How can I trust it?

If you’ve been out of touch with your body and intuition for some time, it’s not as easy as simply “trusting your gut.”

Luckily there are many ways to reclaim your body empowerment and learn to tune into your intuition again. I walked through a simple, yet powerful, exercise on episode 31 of the Determined AF podcast.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Do I Even Need to Listen To My Body?

Before diving into the how, let’s start with the why. 

Why is it so important to listen to your body?

I believe that tuning into our bodies is empowerment. It’s a way we can make decisions and navigate both our professional and personal lives with confidence.

We often get completely wrapped up in our thoughts, preconceptions, external pressures and expectations, and the feeling of “should"—it clouds our judgment and prevents us from listening to the deep wisdom of our own bodies.

But, if you can tap into what your intuition is saying, you gain deeper levels of self-awareness to recognize what you genuinely need or desire. And, with that self-knowledge, you can make decisions and take action that is in alignment.

This is important to anyone, but particularly so for entrepreneurs. When you’re in tune with your body’s signals and aligned with your core self, you’re more adaptable and resilient in the face of challenges and changes.

Which—let’s be real—we all need on this bumpy road of entrepreneurship.

So, in short, listening to your body and intuition helps you:

  • Gain deeper self-awareness of your desires and needs
  • Make clear and confident decisions
  • Build resiliency in the face of challenges
  • Reduce decision fatigue and avoid second-guessing decisions

"Your body's wisdom, I believe, is the best guide on your entrepreneurial journey, and well really, in all things really.”

How to Listen to Your Body

Okay, onto the practical.

I first learned about this exercise at the beginning of my therapy journey. I didn’t know how to trust my intuition, or even what it was saying to me.

I read “Everything is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo and it totally transformed the way I approached this. In the book she talks about an exercise she does anytime she feels torn about a decision.

I know you’ve been there—I have, too. You’re wondering if this is a healthy and normal response to something new and challenging or if it’s a deep, intuitive cry to shut that sh*t down. We face so many life decisions, big and small, that have multiple choices, paths, or outcomes. It can be so hard to know what to do.

So, when you’re in this space, faced with a big decision, give this exercise a try.

There are three key steps:

1. Get comfortable

I prefer to sit, but you can also stand. Relax, get comfortable, and let your body be at ease. I like to sit with my hands face-up on my thighs. Notice the weight in your chair, your feet flat on the ground.

Be present in your body.

2. Breathe

Once you’re in a comfortable position, take three deep, full breaths. The kind of breath that you feel throughout your entire body. Take note of how your shoulders rise and fall with each breath. Pay attention to how it feels.

3. Ask and listen

Once you’ve centered yourself through deep breathing, ask yourself this question:

Does saying yes to this make me feel expansive or contracted? 

Now, here’s the key. Your body will react instantly, quickly, and perhaps subtly. You must pay attention to the feeling you have in the split moment you ask. Do not pay attention to the thoughts that come to your mind—only pay attention to the physical sensations in your body.

Do you feel a sense of excitement, openness, and joy? Or is your body tight and heavy, accompanied by a feeling of dread? The way you feel in this moment is your intuition—it’s your body’s wisdom telling you what to do.

If you’re struggling to feel that immediate response, don’t worry. This can take some practice if you’re not used to tuning into your intuition. If this is the case, continue asking yourself some other questions:

  • Do I really want to do this?
  • Does this feel peaceful or fun?
  • If I had $20 million sitting in the bank, would I still do this?
  • After I'm around this person, do I feel more energized or drained? (Ask this if the opportunity involves someone else)
  • Do I feel safe, understood, and respected?

Go through them slowly and pay attention to how your body responds. You may not need to ask all the questions, just keep going until you feel a response in your intuition.

Listening To Your Body: The Specifics

Expansion and contraction are really beneficial ideas when it comes to tapping into our gut.

We are all capable of doing this. It’s not something you need to take a class on or pay money to learn. You just need to sit with your body and pay attention to the sensations to see if you’re expanding or contracting in response to how you feel about a particular decision, situation, or opportunity.

But what do these sensations actually feel like? 

Expansion often occurs when we are aligned with our purpose or passion. It’s your body saying “yes!” to something. It might feel like:

  1. Lightness or spaciousness in the chest: It might feel as if your heart is opening up or you can breathe more easily. This feeling often signifies that you're in alignment with a decision, opportunity, or direction in your life.
  2. A subtle, warm tingling in the stomach: This sensation might feel like butterflies or a soft vibration, and it often represents excitement, anticipation, or joy.
  3. A sensation of relief, as if a weight has been lifted: You might experience this as a sense of relief or even a feeling of freedom. This sensation can arise when you've made a decision that aligns with your values, resolved a challenging situation, or taken a step toward fulfilling your dreams.
  4. A feeling of warmth, energy, or openness: You might feel this energy radiating outwards from your core or as a subtle tingling sensation throughout your entire body.
  5. A sense of excitement or eagerness: This sensation can feel like a burst of energy or enthusiasm, propelling you towards a particular decision, goal, or opportunity. It's a signal that you're in sync with your purpose and that the path ahead is full of potential.

On the other side is contraction. This is when our body is signaling for us to pause and reflect.

Note that contraction doesn’t always mean something is wrong, but it’s an indication that our body wants us to pay closer attention and perhaps re-evaluate or take more time for a decision.

The physical sensations of contraction can feel like:

  1. Tightness or heaviness in the chest: This sensation can feel like a weight on your heart or a constriction in your breathing.
  2. A churning or knot in the stomach: Another common sensation of contraction is a churning or knot in your stomach area. This feeling can be described as uneasiness, discomfort, or even a mild sense of nausea.
  3. A general feeling of unease or discomfort: This sensation might be accompanied by tension, restlessness, or a sense of being "stuck."
  4. Tension or tightness in the neck and shoulders: When your body is contracting, you might feel tension or tightness in your neck and shoulders. This sensation can feel like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders or like your muscles are tightening up.
  5. A sense of constriction or closing in: It might feel like your energy is being pulled inward, or like a protective shield is forming around you. This sensation suggests that it's essential to reflect on your current situation, identify potential obstacles, or seek alternative solutions.

It takes time and practice to notice these sensations. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t pick up on them right away, but just keep practicing and tuning into your body.

When you do tune into these sensations, you’re powerfully tapping into your core self and the wisdom stored within your own body.

"Expansion often occurs when we are aligned with our purpose or passion. It's like the universe is giving us a nudge, saying, ‘Yes, this is the right path for you!’ The more we pay attention to these feelings, the better we become at recognizing them as valuable signals.”

- Jamie on episode 31 of Determined AF podcast

By incorporating this exercise into your regular routine, you are tuning into your inner compass that can guide you to make decisions that are in alignment with your core self—your values, goals, and authentic desires. And, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I recommend that you also journal about what you experience. Record the sensations you experience so you can start to see some patterns in them. This helps you further get in touch with your intuition.

So, let’s reclaim our intuition together, okay?

Let’s tap into the wisdom of our bodies.

Let’s learn to trust ourselves again.

If you want to dive deeper into this topic, listen to the full episode of The Determined AF podcast. You can also download my Self-Awareness Guide which has many exercises—including this one we just learned—to increase your self-awareness to live in fuller alignment with your true self.

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Other posts that may interest you:

> Read how Tina Codhina, a chocolatier, learned to trust her intuition through her entrepreneurial journey:

How Chocolate Taught Tina Codinha Lessons on Self-Awareness, Business, and Trusting Your Intuition

> Are you a growing entrepreneur and find yourself navigating multiple passions? Check out podcast episode 40: Confused or Multi-Passionate? Understanding What Multiple Ventures Mean for Your Vision

**Disclosure** This post may contain affiliate links and they are at no additional cost to you, though I may earn a small commission. Don't worry, I only recommend products or services that I have tried or believe would be of great value to you! All opinions expressed are those of my own!

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