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Developing Intuition is Your Guidepost to Thriving

I spent my childhood living to serve my family.

I was born to a single mother who had me as a fill-in partner and my grandmother moved into our home when I was 4. Between the two of them I was sexually abused, emotionally neglected and manipulated. And all the while, we looked like the perfect family to the outside eye. My means of survival was to meet every need of the adults in my life.

By the time I was in high school I was depressed, suicidal and doing everything I could to suppress my inner rage. I hated school and had very few friends but still clung to my family’s facade.

The separation of college helped but not enough. Since abusive and unhealthy relationships were all I knew, I continued to surround myself with them. When I graduated I was full time care-taking in my preschool job and my best friend was emotionally abusive. There were days when I would drive home from work, then sit in front of my house for an hour or more because I couldn’t bring myself to go inside. Once I finally made it in, I’d get drunk. Every night.

Clearly something had to change. I landed an internship across the country. The day I left was the last time I ever saw my mother. The internship was on a vegetable farm in a very spiritual community. Away from my family and everyone who had seen me grow up, I was able to let the facade go. I started therapy, I was open with my new community about my struggles and I started to heal.

Years later, I have a healthy community who supports me, my lifestyle is sustainable and my PTSD no longer hinders who I want to be in the world. I’m surrounded by people who value me, affirm me regularly and most importantly I value myself.

All of these changes only came about because I made that scary choice to follow what I wanted. It’s such a hard transition when our actions change from focus on people-pleasing to self alignment but it’s the only way we can grow.

If you’re working on shifting closer to honoring yourself, read on. This is the guidance I yearned for.

  • Start by acknowledging how you really feel. When we’re busy surviving unhealthy lives, we cover up everything that’s happening inside of us. Only by recognizing our fear, anger and hope for better can we start shifting toward a better life.
  • Become besties with your heart and your gut. These are our two main centers of feelings. We tend to experience joy, happiness and love in our heart center while our gut alerts us of feelings like shame and anger. If you can’t immediately name your feelings, see if you can determine how it feels in your body.
  • Once you start hearing your own messages, follow them. Follow your gut. This can be as simple as canceling plans that you’re not genuinely excited about or stop watching a tv show if you notice that you feel gross while watching it. And you don’t have to make a story to justify the feelings. Actually, I’d encourage you to focus on just allowing the feeling to guide you without needing to have a solid reason behind it.
  • When we’re in survival mode we spend lots of time justifying circumstances in our minds. The problem with this is spending too much time in our brains removes us from our inner guidance. It becomes too easy to let unhealthy circumstances or behaviors continue. If we make a point of shutting off our brains, we’ll have the chance to find out whether something is really working for us. We certainly can’t change what we don’t notice isn’t serving us.