Intuition sits somewhere along the spectrum of woo and unflinching reality, and everyone has a different relationship with it. Most hardcore academics won’t dismiss that a “gut feeling” exists, but some of us might dictate our every decision by an initial pulse of energetic guidance. As multipotentialites, we can likely recognize the power and frequency of our intuition when landing upon a new project or passion. But can we trust it? While the led-by-the-nose approach to life decisions can be exciting, it can also bring up challenges of logistics, timing, and practicality. So how do you sort through when to follow your gut and when to ask it to pipe down?
Research around decision-making often divides strategies into the conscious and the unconscious, both of which have clear benefits. Conscious decision-making, the analytical approach, can certainly yield positive outcomes: these decisions are likely well-reasoned, may be more financially viable, or they might just feel safer. But while you’re busy hemming and hawing, an opportunity might flash by.
The intuitive, unconscious response is a powerful one that often thrives on immediacy, so you’re less likely to miss a chance that only comes around once in a while. There’s also a real threat of analysis-paralysis when it comes to logical reasoning, leading to apprehension or procrastination, whereas intuition is largely associated with some level of confidence, even when you’re not quite sure why or where it came from. Personally, I’ve always felt drawn to intuitive practices in my approaches to various projects. My poetry writing often relied on intuitive sounds and flow that I couldn’t quite explain through logic, and my teaching practice leaned heavily on intuiting a student’s personal learning style so I could adjust accordingly.
Institutions and economies often undervalue these more nuanced skills, so it can be daunting to proclaim your stellar idea as “just a feeling.” Historically, intuition was often associated with luck and the feminine, mostly with negative connotations. In a capitalist, rigidly rational world, it’s tough to find a place of pride for intuition. But there’s also reams of research in its value, its evolutionary roots, and its associations to creativity and complex problem-solving. All of these are hallmark multipotentialite attributes and skills.
Multipotentialites are wired for intuition
Multipotentialites might be especially poised to engage with intuition, since much of its power relies on recognition. As a group, we tend to have a wide range of experiences and might be more familiar with the trial and error approach. Also, we’re used to designing our lives outside the norm. These two superpowers make us primed to have stronger intuitive responses based on experience. Your brain stores the information you’ve gleaned throughout your life and guides your intuitive response, strengthening the gut impulse over time.
Often intuition is attributed to experts, or people who spend a lot of time in a given field, gathering many iterations of these recognizable experiences over time. But paradoxically, those who have a breadth of knowledge can apply their lessons to their cache of intuition more broadly, leading to a more automatic and potentially more learned intuitive choice. Plus, the more access to learning your brain gets, the more experience it can draw from – a win for all of us who love to begin again and start something new!
To work with your intuition as a guiding force rather than a detouring distraction, you might consider a few tactics:
Check in with your body
Somatics is a compelling psychological theory that suggests that your body is your intuition and is also the most illustrative conduit to your subconscious. Behavioral science suggests that even conscious, analyzed, and logical decision-making is influenced by emotions that arise as sensations in the body. We might not always (or even ever) really notice these unless we’re paying attention, which can be a valuable way to work with your intuitive ideas. Here’s what to look for:
- When you slow down and think of a new project, does your body give you excitement signals?
- Does your heart speed up a little bit?
- Do you feel some butterflies in your stomach or maybe even goosebumps?
- Or does your heartbeat feel rapid because it’s anxious?
- Do you feel a little resistance in your belly or maybe a heaviness in your limbs?
This is tricky work! Especially if you’re used to moving at a rapid pace, eager to get to work on your multitude of interests. A tool to help you feel these clues from your body might be to explore meditation. Maybe it’s as simple as just closing your eyes, minimizing distractions, and seeing if any feedback is coming up for you.
Or, if you want more structure, try visualizing yourself starting that project. Fill out the details as much as possible:
- How would it feel to start the work?
- What about while you’re in the thick of it? Make it a rich image to soak in.
- With your eyes closed, how does your body respond?
- Does it tense up? Relax? Feel giddy?
Any information can help reinforce those initial gut reactions and guide you.
Another helpful process I love to use is journaling, although the more time you spend in narrative, the more you might begin to sway yourself towards more analytical approaches. Doodling or free-writing can be useful tools to get myself out of being too logical or self-conscious, allowing freedom for my subconscious to flow.
Check in with your surroundings
One of intuition’s pitfalls is the experience-based model that can bias you towards decisions that are similar to ones you’ve made in the past, based on the context of your life and history. This tendency can be infiltrated and influenced pretty easily by external forces, especially with the sheer volume of information we’re all consuming most days. Social media in particular can be a double-edged sword for a multipotentialite – so many possibilities!
If you’re like me, you can easily feel a swoop of interest when you see someone designing mushroom-appliqued apparel, tackling homemade ferments as a booming side-gig, or producing a TV show with a theme you definitely have thought of before. If you’re spending a lot of time consuming other people’s content, it might be tricky to sort out those initial pings of intuition. We’re easily stimulated by beautiful photos and our bodies can respond to this with real, intuitive longing. But it’s always a good idea to take a media break to check in on whether or not something is a for-you fantasy or if just something you’re being repetitively exposed to.
Check in with your people
Maybe you’re someone who struggles with communicating your myriad interests, or maybe you jump at the chance to tell friends or family about every wild idea that passes through, brimming with excitement. Either way, if you have a spark of intuition, but you’re not 100% sure, it’s always good to have a second opinion. The key to this strategy, however, is to really feel secure with those allies. If your sister is always lamenting your “lack of direction,” she’s probably not the best resource. But the Puttyverse community is usually a slam dunk in terms of open-mindedness and receptivity, and other friends who support your multiplicity can be super helpful in the quest to interrogate a nebulous gut instinct.
Just try it!
As with most projects or potential directions, a trial period of following your impulse is likely the most effective way to know it’s right for you. If you can swing it, start enacting some of the steps that seem most exciting about your idea. Repeat the check points above to get a feel for how your body and environment is responding. You can always pull back or apply some more analytics to see whether the idea’s really viable. And of course, as you navigate multiple channels at once, conscious reasoning is going to be pretty important to put that intuitive idea to good work within your schedule.
Intuition is a tricky subject to nail down since we all experience it in a unique and individual way. But developing tools to help you get your arms around a gut feeling will inevitably help with any decision-making challenge you face.
What about you? How does intuition show up in your multipotentialite projects? Does it show up in your body, your mind, or both? Share with the community in the comments.