It’s a fact we are bombarded by more information than in any other time in our history. Life in this digital age is moving fast and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed with conflicting feelings when it comes to making choices. Having all that information can be empowering, yet much of it is conflicting and we start to wonder what is right for us personally.
Too much to think about
According to the newspaper ‘USA Today’ the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day. No wonder so many of us are feeling stressed out from wondering and worrying whether we are making the right ones. In this time of information overload there is simply too much to think about. This can affect sleep, as the mind becomes too full to process all the data in the way it normally would, which is through our subconscious during our REM sleep. The result is that we wake up in the early hours to process the rest of the information before the working day starts again. Our body has systems for coping with stress. Blood leaves the stomach area to fill the arms and legs for a fight or flight response to a threat such as a predator. But if the threat is a constant stream of facts, then we can be in a constant state of stress. The blood was doing an important job in the stomach before the body directed it to the arms and legs; it was aiding digestion and supporting the immune system. Another form of self-protection is what psychologists call a state of ambivalence. Ambivalence can range from simply stopping caring, to being in a trance-like state of lack of awareness. It’s a form of shutdown caused by having to come to terms with a complex world of choice and the belief in right and wrong, good or bad decisions. Of course not all information is stressful, but we often process details that have little to do with us. For example when Angelina Jolie had a cancer preventative double mastectomy, many women I know pondered over her choice and started to think about what they would do given the same information. If our thoughts are creative perhaps ignorance is bliss.
At school we are taught to value our logic and reason as a compass to navigate important decisions we have to make throughout our lives.
Yet there are multiple ways in which we understand and give meaning to information we gather from world around us. Some people build knowledge by retaining information and regurgitating it when required. Some people learn by experience, others need to see it to believe it, while you might need to have an emotional connection for information to mean anything.
However, there is a compass for reliable decision-making that bypasses the thinking mind. It’s an inner knowing that has been undervalued – your intuition.
Bypassing the thinking mind
The reason it’s been undervalued is because, until now, people believed there was one form of intuitive knowing, that of the gut instinct. There are, in fact, two forms of intuition. One from the gut and one from the heart. Embedded in the lining of the intestines, is the enteric nervous system, with hundreds of millions of neurons – one thousandth the number in your brain. Gut neurons communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, which runs from the base of the brain to the chest and abdomen.
The clearest connection between the gut and the mind is how we experience anxiety and stress. A gut instinct is when we have a reaction to something we may find fearful. Making decisions through this form of intuition means that we make choices out of fear or defence.
The second form of intuitive knowing is often discounted because it has no words. It is rooted in emotion. For example, when we have an excited, expansive feeling and we simply know, we may not understand why we know, we just know. Following this inner knowing intuition can lead to remarkable life changes, as your decisions become about the expansion of who you are rather than limiting yourself to what other people tell you. We can access this form of intuition by becoming curious about the decisions we are trying to make. Use love-filled intuition to make empowered choices, free yourself from ego judgement and make the switch from thinking to knowing.
You can see the added benefits on a personal level of using heart-based intuition. It means you can make quicker decisions, which means less stress and sleepless nights. It means that you can open your heart more widely to people as you know who you can trust. But it also means that when it comes to life changing information, you can discern fact from fiction; from what goes into our food to how governments spin policy. Trusting your intuition and not being drawn into a fixed state of ambivalence is a powerful tool to change the world.
© 2013 by Becky Walsh www.beckywalsh.com