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"Children are very wise, intuitively; they know who loves them most, and who only pretends."

-VC Andrews

One of the things I really love about living under one roof with my adult children and granddaughters are the few times a month when we all have dinner together around the table. At the end of our meal, we will sometimes have a structured sharing time to talk about things we appreciate about each other or something we are thankful for that week.

I will always remember a time like that a couple years ago when the last to share was my two-year-old granddaughter Autumn who was just starting to try and talk and be part of conversations. When it was Autumn’s turn to share what she was thankful for that week she said proudly: “I don’t know!” To which after a few moments her mother said: “Autumn just say ‘my family’ or something else” and then asked her again: “So what are you thankful for?” Autumn took a second seeming to really give it thought this time and then said proudly: “I DON’T know!!”

What my granddaughter Autumn shared and the way she shared it will be forever memorable to me because it was in that moment that I could tell Autumn was really starting to develop her own identity and sense of self. It’s those early years in childhood when often we are not yet influenced to “go with the flow” or to be influenced into conform to the mainstream expectations of groups we’re part of. It’s why sometimes children are so brutally honest and innocent in being so direct, even when it may be to the embarrassment of their parents.

I remember a moment like that in my own childhood when my father used to describe a lady at the church we attended as having a “chip on her shoulder” which I always envisioned as my favorite snack foods displayed like epaulets on the shoulders of her dress – I really did picture that! You can imagine my surprise then when I finally met her in person at church as she was speaking with my parents, and I realized she didn’t have any potato chips on her shoulders as I thought my father had always called attention to. I immediately thought this was most important for my parents to realize so I shouted out: “Hey! There aren’t any chips on her shoulders!” But then I could tell instantly that my parents were less than pleased for me to have made that discovery.

Anyway, I was thinking about these things and how it is that over time as we grow up and learn to conform or even submit to pressure or at worst manipulation, we may grow very accustomed to denying our inner voice, our inner “knowing,” or what some may call our “gut” or our “soul” or “spirit.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned just how important it really is to get in touch with that part of ourselves again and at times it may serve as our very best guide or decision maker.

Researchers have established that often when we make a decision based on a feeling, a hunch, or our intuition, very often that is in fact the best decision for us. I believe this is related to what neurologists have discovered in finding that more than 95 percent of our brain functioning happens at a subconscious level and only five percent of our cognitive activity (decisions, emotions, actions, behavior) comes from our conscious mind. I know this to be true in the EMDR Therapy I do - that of all the thoughts we observe during a session represent less than one percent of all the thoughts and information being processed in those same moments.

So, we need to realize and remind ourselves that we are constantly absorbing far more information than we consciously realize and that comes in through all of our senses and we process that information at an incredible speed. So that intuition, hunch, inkling, sense, voice, is coming from masses of information we can’t even cognitively or consciously process but it is all vitally important data to our survival and wellbeing!

My suggestion then is to start getting in better touch with your inner self and paying attention to your intuition. You may need to slow down for a few moments to really get in touch with not only what you may be thinking but how are you really feeling about something you’re facing or dealing with right now. You might be wrestling with a big decision like whether or not to sell your house and relocate, or to end a relationship you know is not good for you, to put some boundaries in place with a friend or family member, or maybe to start looking for a new job.

Too often we tune out from our intuition and cloud that space with the white noise of social media, mindlessly scrolling through our phones or the Internet, droning out with binge watching television, or keeping ourselves busy with too many activities, working more than we need to, or other forms of escapism.

When I was a young man, I used to think I had all the answers and I was not only out of touch with my own intuition, but I also even arrogantly ignored my wife’s warning when she would tell me that she had “a check in her spirit” or “something just not feeling right” if we were about to make major change or big decision.

I’m not too proud to say it took me longer than it should have to realize my wife was more often right and it was only after some very big mistakes in my life that I finally realized how important it was to go with my gut instead of ignoring that in lieu of all the deductive reasoning I may have gone through.

Now I’m far more relieved to share that my wife and I have a rule which is that if either of us have a gut check or don’t feel right about something we’re contemplating, then our action is no action until we both come to agreement and have peace and affirmation about the way ahead.

I hope this notion about the importance of your own intuition helps you think about trusting yourself and finding comfort in realizing even when everyone around you is saying one thing, it’s perfectly acceptable to be like my granddaughter Autumn and say boldly: “I just don’t know!” if you’re not ready to commit to a decision. You’ll be far better off if you wait until your intuition lets you know.

Have a great week!


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