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Sometimes people will say that they don’t trust their intuition when what they really mean is they don’t trust themselves to hear it and act accordingly.
Yes, trauma can clog the line to intuition. When we have shame, it makes caverns inside us where we cannot go, and our avoidance of those spaces can obstruct otherwise clear pathways to wells of deep knowing. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Intuition is one of those things that’s talked about a lot, but I rarely see honest discussions around why listening to it can be so hard, let alone instruction on how to go about making it easier. In my opinion, if we continually find ourselves saying, “Iknew something wasn’t right from the beginning,” we need to be re-tracing our steps to determine what got in the way.
High Priestess is popularly viewed as a card about intuition. But it is just as much about demystifying the part of ourselves that overrides inner knowing as it is about intuition itself. It is an invitation to come into dialogue with the parts of the psyche whose needs are so aggravated and pressing that they drown out the subtle pulsing of the intuitive self. The parts whose needs—to be wanted, to be rescued, to numb old wounds—are stronger and sharper and more urgent than the seemingly abstract need for self-preservation.
We learn to trust our intuition by listening to it. By doing what it tells us to do and by having subsequent experiences that positively reinforce that behavior. For instance, you might sense that something is dangerous and walk away from it even though it feels good in the moment, sparing yourself unnecessary pain which later becomes obvious.
Or you might say no to an opportunity that feels pretty good but not quite right only to have your dream project materialize soon after. Basic rules of behavioral conditioning support the premise that the more we act in accordance with our intuition and experience positive results, the easier listening to it will be over time.
One concrete way to begin building trust in yourself is to make choices that prioritize your safety and well-being. To say no when the smaller, less mature parts of you (Page of Wands) want to say yes. These are the parts that hear intuition say “no,” yet can’t help but charge forth in hopes of fulfilling some long unmet need.
To earn the trust of these parts (and give them permission to fall back) you must prove that you can protect them. You do this by making choices in their highest interests. Go deep below the surface of their most precious wishes (Nine of Cups) and identify what unmet needs are there in the bedrock. To be safe. To be seen. To be loved. Few people in this world will pursue and protect these interests for you if you do not.
To connect with the parts of you that undermine your ability to choose well for yourself, ask: What am I afraid will happen if I walk away from the thing that I know is wrong or not good enough? The answers to this question may highlight fears of being left behind, unloved, or inadequate. This is data you can use.
We must earn our own trust just as we would require others to earn it. And here’s the thing: People who don’t trust themselves tend not to insist that others be trustworthy, either. When we have earned our own trust, however—by proving that we can be counted on to keep ourselves safe—we are more likely to require that others earn that trust too. When we have worked hard to get a taste of what security feels like, we are not so quick to give it up.
Earning your own trust takes work. It requires a commitment to making the right choices even when it’s hard (Seven of Pentacles). But how can you trust your intuition if you do not give it the opportunity to show you what it knows? How will you ever learn to do what it tells you if you continually deny and repress it? The only way to learn is to listen, act accordingly, and let yourself see.
I like the idea of using the physical domains of behavior and action to strengthen the watery realm of inner knowing. Think about it as an experiment. Say no to one thing you have a weird feeling about. Do a thing because you feel it’s right even though you’re scared. Just see what happens. Let the universe reinforce you (Wheel of Fortune).
People who don’t understand what passivity is are unable to access it’s power. If passivity is staying put where you are, quietly inviting the world to rise and meet you, lowering yourself to connect with a person or project that isn’t a match for your magic is the opposite. One is motivated by a deep trust in oneself (High Priestess) and the universe (Wheel of Fortune), the other by fear and a need to control.
People who are terrified of being abandoned often feel unable to sit back and disengage when those they care for behave badly. Digging in their heels, they commit to “helping,” or “having compassion,” when what they’re really doing is enabling. Paradoxically, when we buy into the idea that if we do not coddle people they will not grow, we stifle them. We tacitly tell them, “I have no faith in you at all.”
Sure, it is a risk (Wheel of Fortune) to stay rooted and passive in our magic (High Priestess) when someone we hope will join us is stumbling trying to come into their own. But when we do anything other than ground in our own growth and brilliance we are doing disservice to those we love. We are saying “Because I do not believe in you, because I do not believe that you can grow, I will come down to join you. We will stay small together.” Do not be caught dead saying something like that.
To shrink and lower is to not only betray your own growth, it is to negate the growth of others. Instead, picture what an intense belief in and commitment to your own magic could inspire in those around you. Be still and believe that you will have your needs met (Four of Cups).
I know it’s not easy. If you have to, gather every scrap of faith in your being to trust that what is for you will join you where you’re at. Without coercion. Without control. Without convincing.
In an overactive world, passivity is medicine and it is power. It is the difference between inspiring your environment to rise up, and telling it, “You do not have to grow. You probably can’t grow anyway. Let’s stay here.”
And consider that whatever you tell to the universe, whether privately or in public, you are also telling to yourself.
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