True North: Following Your Intuition

Compass in the hand against rural road

It’s the night of a big party, and you’re waiting for your friend to pick you up. The car pulls up, but your friend is in the passenger seat, and someone you don’t know is the driver. “Jump in, this is my friend Emily, she offered to drive”, your friend says. But before you can answer, you start to feel something going on inside. Your hands get a little clammy, your stomach feels funky, your chest feels a little tight. Somewhere within, part of your subconscious has rapidly sussed out the potential danger of the situation you are about to get yourself into.

This phenomenon of your body telling you something isn’t quite right is our own personal GPS system that we know as intuition. Navigating through difficult situations is a challenge we all must face. On a daily basis, we rely on our intuitons to decide things from as simple a choice as turning left or turning right to as complex a choice as deciding who to trust with your life. What should we do when we feel our intuition speaking loudly?


When your body is feeling the ickiness of a situation, especially if it pops up when you don’t want it to (like right when you’re about to head to a super fun party), it helps to take a moment to stop and figure out what your intuition is telling you. If something feels off internally, chances are something is off externally. We have evolution to thank for this rapid internal alarm going off. Our ancient ancestors had to rely on instinct to survive dangerous situations constantly (you know, lions jumping out of a bush to snack on them, etc). We no longer need our built in survival skills to dodge carnivorous jungle cats, but we do need it to survive our modern jungle just the same.


If, after checking in with yourself, you decide to “go with you gut”, then it’s time to act. It may mean not getting in a car, or not going on a date with the guy who once seemed nice but is now making you feel nervous (and not in the good way), or even not walking down a poorly lit street. Since you are the only person who is ever allowed to be in charge of YOU, it’s your right to get yourself out of whatever is making you feel on high alert. That might mean disappointing your friends, or even disappointing yourself (not going to a party isn’t fun, but being in danger at a party is way worse). But none of that matters when it comes to protecting yourself.


Sometimes our intuition asks us to act fast, and sometimes it’s a slower burn. Maybe you’ve been hanging with a group of friends who have begun to trigger some of those “not quite right” feelings. Maybe a person in your life makes you feel unsafe, your friend or someone else’s friend, an adult, a teacher, a coach. No matter what, know you can always find someone who you trust and makes you feel safe to talk about it. You never have to be alone with your intuitive feelings.


It’s far better to make a choice that keeps you safe than it is to ignore a gut feeling. Even if you feel silly, or think you’re overreacting, chances are you’re following your personal GPS in the right direction and away from something harmful or dangerous. Just like in a horror movie, as the music starts to get scary and the lead actress begins to open the door to the attic, that instinct you have to yell “Don’t open that door!” is the very same one you can apply to your own life. Trust in it.

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