When to Go with Your Gut: 4 Signs Your Intuition Is Right

Kate Hanley by Kate Hanley | April 5th, 2009 | 15 Comments
topic: Health & Wellness, Personal Growth

contribMy first job as a freelancer was a project from hell. My boss was a complete control freak. Everything I wrote he re-wrote 6 times. He insisted I go to client meetings in the next state, and then never shut up long enough for me to speak. He dallied on making decisions so long I had to work several weekends in a row to meet my deadlines. The kicker is, I knew when I was applying for the job that this guy was trouble. I had an undeniable pit in my stomach after the interview. When we were negotiating payment, I couldn’t sleep. But I listened to the voice that said “How will you pay your bills if you turn this down?” instead of the voice that said, “Run!”

You may think making decisions is best left to the cool calculations of pure reason. But I have come to learn that my body has an eloquent language all its own, and it’s got quite a lot to say about what I should do in any given situation. The more I follow it, the more I avoid nightmare situations like that first freelance gig. The first trick is to learn how to decipher that language. Here are the things I check in with first:


Breathing shallowly and/or rapidly (like a panting dog) is a sure sign of stress while holding your breath points toward fear. Purposefully taking a few slow, deep breaths can help shift you out of those emotions and allow you to approach your decision with a clearer mind.


They don’t call it a “gut feeling” for nothing. When you consider an option, do you feel like your stomach is made of lead? Is it churning, sour, or upset in any way? This can get a little tricky, because there are some kinds of fear that are desirable — the kind you get when you’re growing beyond your previous limits, for example — and some that aren’t — like the kind that tells you you’re in danger. Try to discern if what you’re feeling is more like anticipation and excitement (suggesting that it’s the good kind of fear), or if it feels like panic or distress (suggesting that your body is preparing to protect itself).


In the yogic tradition, rounded shoulders and a sunken chest suggest a person is depressed. If something you’re considering gives you a “heavy heart,” ask yourself, Is this a feeling I want to perpetuate? Or, if an option makes your chest tingle and feel warm or flush, this is a good sign that your metaphorical heart is behind you on this one.

Subconscious Mind

Watch your dreams, listen to the songs that get stuck in your head, and pay attention to anything that keeps popping up for you — you catch a snippet of something in an overheard conversation, then you see an article on it in the paper, for instance. We get signals from our subconscious all the time, but we’re too busy or distracted to hear them. Find a way to get quiet on a regular basis — journaling, walking, meditation, knitting, cooking, whatever makes you feel calm and grounded — and you’ll be surprised how your antenna gets more attuned to the signals your subconscious is sending.

It may take a while to figure out how your particular body likes to communicate with you — maybe you feel things physically, like a tingling, or maybe you get more information from your dreams. It’s definitely a practice. Just like learning how to speak any language, it gets easier the more you do it.

But the real challenge comes after you start picking up you body’s clues: You’ve got to trust the information you’re getting. It can feel fairly crazy to choose a job that pays less just because you feel happier and more relaxed in their offices, for example. Or to go out with the guy who’s so not your type, but who gives you a warm feeling in your stomach. I’m definitely still working on it. But even when I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what my body is trying to tell me, listening to it keeps me aware that not everything can be worked out with a pro and con list.

The next time you’ve got to make a choice about what to do next, remember the immortal words of Olivia Newton John: “Let me hear your body talk.”

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  1. I loved this article, it was so benefic to me as it answered so many questions. thanks

    Lily | August 19th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. My name is Julie and i want to share with you, my Intuition. Sense i was fourteen i began noticing a ‘Gut’ feeling, for example, i could be walking down the street and all at once a strong feeling would flood my body. i would have the tingling in my chest just like you described here in your article. my hands would shake also, and was having a BAD feeing, now i was’nt worried or thinking of anything that could translate the feelings that i was having. anyways strait to the point, i had this odd feeling of danger and for some reason i looked back and there was a cop driving fast with his lights on. as soon as i saw him all those feelings went away. i dont know who he was after or if some one was hurt? but i felt strongly that it was very bad. The more i listen to these feelings the stronger it all gets for me and sometimes its hard to breathe, upset stomach or i cry and dont understand why, so when i hear a siren or a situation it go’s away, i want you to know that i feel all this BEFORE i hear or see a situation. i do try to think of some things that might play a role in my feelings but most of them i dont even get to find out. I understand what your saying here in your article but am still curiouse to learn much more. Sorry for writing longer than i planed, just sharing my intuitions with you. After i became intuned with my intuition i was intredused to paganism to try an learn more of this, like grounding, meditaion, and even tarot. i have been practicing for 12yrs now. my question i do have for you is, what can i do to help myself remember my dreams so i could use that to figure out my gut feelings. i know this sounds like a dumb question but i am having a hard time and sometimes i dont even dream for a whole month, really and i dont know if thats my mind resting or taking a brake i just dont understand that…haha. Well i thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon, Thanks.

    Julie | January 30th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. I have had intuitive feelings (i.e. tingling or heavy heart) before but it was always difficult for me to fine tune them. I always paid attention to my dreams though, it seemed like it was the one way for me to receive my intuitive messages. There would be certain dreams that I would have that would come true. Sometimes the time lapsed and it might be a few months before it came true. But it usually did. I would also notice a lot of “coincidences” as well and would think I’m silly for noticing them. My friends would make me believe I was silly too! But now after reading this article it had been my intuition all along talking to me.

    Stephanie | March 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. I felt like the article was a mini-refresher course for me in intuition. I have journaled since I was 11 years old (I’m now 43) and it was my grounding during an uncertain childhood. It’s a wonderful forum for me to get in touch with my authentic self – I also discovered that church helps me to do this – and I always have felt that ‘coming home’ feeling in doing so. I am newly married (1 1/2 years and it is a second marriage for me) and I am trying to sort through some strong feelings of doubt and concern. Your article on intuition was very helpful in getting me started in the process!

    jennifer | December 20th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  5. Very glad it was helpful, Jennifer. I am only a (very) sporadic journaler. I admire your consistency! Best, Kate

    Kate | January 5th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  6. I just have like a knowing. I remember once as a kid, my brother and I went on a trip, I must have been around 14. We went to visit my dad, who lived in another town. The van dropped us off at the wrong house. My brother is four years younger and he looked scared because we were lost. He asked me if I even knew where to go and I said yes. I was not afraid, maybe I was too young. To this day I can’t tell you how I found my way to my dad’s house. I started walking and I just knew which way to go. Now I’m older and coach, during games I just know what to do. There have been times when I will move a kid to a certain spot and the ball gets hit right to them. I can feel when the other team wants to steal or bunt. I don’t know how I know but I know. Maybe I know how to read my signs but don’t pay attention.

    Jose | May 31st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  7. Jose,
    Good for you for trusting the information you receive! Have you found any tricks (for lack of a better word) that help you get intuitive blasts when you need them? Or do they come unprompted?

    Kate Hanley | May 31st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  8. My boyfriend recently revealed that he slept with another woman. We’re in a long distance relationship, so I have to rely on what he tells me. Besides that, I don’t have much evidence on the situation. He told me he only did this once and that they both agreed not to do that again. But according to him, they are also close friends. I’m concerned that he is lying to me in saying that he has only slept with her once. I’ve had bad dreams about the situation telling me that he’s lying. I get a painful chest feeling when I think of them getting together again. I’m concerned I’m over-thinking their relationship. At the same time, I can’t tell if my body is telling me that he’s lying or if I’m just being paranoid. He seems so sincere when I ask him over and over again if he did anything else with her and he says no. Any advice? I’m deeply troubled.

    Darcy | December 11th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  9. Hi Darcy,
    Oh, so sorry to hear you’re going through this right now. To me, your dreams are merely signifying that this situation is on your mind and your subconscious is trying to process it, not necessarily telling you what exactly happened. I think it makes absolute sense that your chest hurts when you think of him being with another woman again — that’s your heart hurting and wanting to stay protected. What you’ve got to do is check in with yourself when you’re talking to and with your boyfriend. Do any of his actions or just his state of being ring as not being true? Regardless of whether he’s telling the truth or not, you’ve got to make your decisions based on how you feel now that you know it happened. Trust yourself. There are no wrong choices, particularly when you’re staying open to how you’re really feeling and making decisions according to what feels true and right to you. Good luck, Kate

    Kate Hanley | December 16th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  10. This is so interesting. Some time ago I tried reiki, the lady at the end of the session told me my third eye chakra was blocked and that she felt I didn’t trust my intuition enough. It caught my attention because I am an engineer and for a long time been trained to do things “logically” and even before I felt strongly about “doing the right thing” rather than “what feels right”. I liked reading this, particularly the subconscious part – it’s true that at times I don’t pay much attention to it, even when I see information repeating itself…. I will try to do so more!

    Char | August 30th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  11. I needed to hear this today. I just made a tough decision 2 weeks ago and this gave me so much clarity to listen to your gut. Thank You for this vital information.

    lprosper | November 7th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  12. I found this article very informative and it helped to alleviate some of my doubts. I believe intuition is the voice that tells you correct information that every one else says is wrong. I have had to use it in the area of relationships and marriage.

    Michael Ayeni | August 29th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  13. beautiful article..I know many who worked at etc and didn’t go to office on Sept 11,2011as they didn’t think it was a good idea

    arie | December 6th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  14. I recently received some intuitive guidance through A dream I had and after I woke up an I thought about the dream I had a good/positive energy over my body…I followed the rules of asking a question before going to bed an this dream was like giving me an answer. I have never had a dream like this before an getting such a good vibe about it? Was this my intuition ?!

    Lucy | February 15th, 2016 | Comment Permalink
  15. It’s so difficult to know if my gut feelings are right as I’m of a nervous disposition and a lot of things I want to do cause me a feeling of unease. How can I know?

    ouida | March 1st, 2016 | Comment Permalink

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