The following definition and discussion of intuition was taken from Wikipedia:
“Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning, or without understanding how the knowledge was acquired. Different writers give the word “intuition” a great variety of different meanings, ranging from direct access to unconscious knowledge, unconscious cognition, inner sensing, inner insight to unconscious pattern-recognition and the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
You’ve undoubtedly heard of following your intuition. We can get a sense of knowing without necessarily understanding why, what, or how. I think we can all probably also look back at a time in our lives when we didn’t follow our intuition and later regretted it. It’s that deep feeling that something is or isn’t right.
We live in a world with a lot of information including lots of “SHOULD’s”! We have people, businesses, and “society” conveying all sorts of things we SHOULD do to—be happy, lose weight, be healthy, have the perfect relationships, be great parents, succeed at our goals, etc. Heck, as a coach, I’m one of those people that may be making you feel like you “should” (more on that coming).
Let’s talk about the word should…
The definition of should according to the Oxford Dictionary:
“…used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions; indicating a desirable or expected state; used to give or ask advice or suggestions.”
In the past year or so, I’ve realized just how much we tend to use this word, myself included. I personally prefer to suggest and recommend versus try to place “should’s” on people, yet I know I still use that word unnecessarily sometimes.
The problem with “should’s,” however, is not necessarily the source of the word or even what’s being suggested. Usually the problem with “the should” is how we perceive it. If we have a sense of guilt or pressure about not fulfilling an expectation placed on us by “a should,” that’s an emotion we are allowing. It is our choice to decide what advice we heed. We can dig deep to decide whether a certain suggestion feels right within, whether it meshes with our core values and intuitive sense.
Now, if someone in particular becomes offended by our not heeding their “should” that’s on them, right? If that person or entity truly cares about you or me or us, perhaps they’ll take the time to understand why we’ve made a certain choice and through good communication perhaps we can work through that. Yet know that we don’t ALWAYS have to explain ourselves and we certainly don’t always have to justify our reasons for our decisions, particularly when we’ve identified for ourselves how they’re right for us.
We live in a world with a strong diet mentality.
At some point in our lives we have likely felt we “should” be on a diet. In contrast to the diet mentality has come an “intuitive eating approach.” Some people just treat this like another diet, but it’s meant to encourage individuals to choose foods based on what we feel our bodies want and need. This is different than just following ALL our bodies’ cravings. It’s finding a sense of what makes us both HAPPY and HEALTHY! It seems sublime, doesn’t it?!
I truly believe that most, if not all, people can get to a place of successful intuitive eating.
Notice I said “get there”? I will use myself as an example. There was an extended period in my life where I lived in the diet mentality, and one period, in particular, with extreme restriction. In fact, I believe I grew up in a time that was wrought with dieting – that low fat craze was a big part of it. It’s taken me a lot of effort to move past a restriction mindset. Although mentally I’ve been mostly successful with that (I think most people even when they consider themselves healed still see glimpses of these thoughts creep in occasionally), it’s been more difficult to move my body’s signaling past that stage. I tend to be comfortable, even full, on an amount of food that is often too little for my body’s optimal well-being. Some of the ramifications of too little food for me that I notice rather quickly are: weight gain (yes, gain) and eventually lowered energy. I never let it go long enough anymore to experience the flood of other possible symptoms, but under-eating can directly and indirectly cause an incredible number of health problems (some you may have just written off as normal- i.e. disrupted hormones, low energy, brain fog, poor sleep, and so much more). On the flip side, over-eating for some can be a very, very challenging habit to overcome and can cause a slew of health conditions as well. Sometimes we’ve overridden the hunger signals of our bodies for so long that deeper healing (emotional, physical, hormonal, spiritual, etc.) needs to occur to move past these detrimental patterns.
How can we GET to a more intuitive approach?
Using our intuition can help us to achieve a deep level of healing because intuition is all about ALLOWING! When we really ALLOW and stop the battle against our intuition, we can begin to move past all the “SHOULD’s” that have been keeping us in unhealthy patterns. Our bodies work so hard for us to maintain a state of homeostasis for survival. They want health and healing! When we ALLOW that, it can happen! Perhaps think of relaxing into it, like the way you would when you float on water…just allow it!
I absolutely believe that elements of the intuitive eating approach can be right for all. I also believe that for some, more gentle guidance, tracking, and/or structure may be needed alongside the intuitive approach – at least for a period of time (for instance, until we get back to healthy hormone signaling in our bodies). Let’s not beat ourselves up over not fitting into the “shoulds” or expectations of a certain approach. Don’t forget that being intuitive means tapping into what you know to be best – FOR YOU!
If you would like to learn more about the intuitive approach
and have guidance in allowing more intuition in your health journey,
I’d love to support you!