This is a guest post by Lacy Clark Ellman. Lacy is a good friend, and frequent collaborator (she did the design work on the Meaning Manifesto, among other things). She’s been a big part of helping me do the work that I do today— this blog included. She’s an author, speaker, and designer. Give her a warm welcome in the comments, and keep up with her at her site: A Sacred Journey.
Also, look for a chance to win her book below!
I had this thing I used to do when faced with a shopping decision. Say, for example, there was a sweater that I just loved and wanted to buy, but I couldn’t decide which color I liked best. Here’s what the chatter in my head would sound like: I don’t have anything in purple, but I’m more drawn to the tan. But then again I have 3 tan sweaters… maybe I should get it in purple. But do I want to get it in purple? Then again, should I really get something else that’s tan?
As you can imagine, I would be faced with a huge dilemma.
All of my reasoning would be getting in the way of what was most important: which sweater did I prefer? I finally figured a way to get around all of my second-guessing if I had a shopping companion with me. I would ask my friend to flat-out choose one: purple or tan? And when they would say “purple,” I’d pay attention to how I felt inside: was I excited or a bit sad? In this case, I probably would have been a bit sad, because I’m really a neutrals girl at heart. Of course, this meant that I really wanted the tan sweater instead of the purple one. I’d walk to the check-out with great relief and clarity, putting the purple sweater back and telling it to stop getting in the way of my love affair with neutrals.
This might seem a bit trivial when talking about making meaning in life, I know. But the reason I use this example is because these situations are some of the earliest instances where I began tapping into my intuition. I didn’t really know much about what intuition was or the power or depth that it offered. But I did know one thing: that feeling inside me was revealing more than just my preference—it was speaking my truth.
Intuition can be such a hard topic to write about, because its so ethereal. And yet, in those moments in which our intuition speaks to us so boldly, it can be matter-of-fact. It doesn’t seem too different from pioneering a new vocation, does it? We can be so certain of our passions, of our hopes and our dreams. At the outset, we can even be confident of the path we must take to make our dreams a reality. But as we set down the path, things don’t often go as planned, our desires shift, and our passions can lose their clarity.
It is in these moments that our ability to tap into our intuition is of the utmost importance, because our intuition is connected to our true selves.
Your intuition already knows the path you should take. (After all, it’s your intuition that launched you on your passionate quest to make meaning in the first place.) And so, when things seem uncertain, your spark has dimmed, and your trajectory isn’t as clear or exciting as it used to be, take some time to tap into your intuition.
Start asking yourself questions, and and then listen, noticing how you feel (your intuition often speaks up quickly, showing up as a gut response). Ask questions like, “Does this make me feel free or burdened?” and, “Does this bring me joy, or am I doing this because I think I should?” Flip things on their head, and ask, “Am I backing away from this because I’m scared, or because it really isn’t my thing?” And then there’s my perennial favorite, which has yet to cease to guide me right, giving me that extra courage I need to take the next step: “Will I regret not having done this?”
Once things start to seem a little clearer and you feel back on track, we can go shopping. And then, when I can’t decide which color sweater to buy, you can help me—because you know the power of intuition, right? Purple or tan?
Learn more about intuition and and uncovering your true self in Lacy’s new book, Pilgrim Principles: Journeying with Intention in Everyday Life, available in print at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com and also available for Kindle.
Lacy Clark Ellman is a lover of food, books, spirituality, growing and making things, far off places, and lovely spaces. She writes about intentional travel and living and shares stories of other pilgrim’s journeys at asacredjourney.net.