Does Ignoring Our Own Psychic Intuition Make Us Physically Sick?
Like so many of you, I walk the thick line between complete skeptic and total believer when it comes to health, wellbeing, and spirituality. But the thing that really sold me on the power of 'soft' well-being, like intuitive guidance, was finding that when I ignored my intuition (deep empathy, sense of knowing, whatever you want to call it) all the atoms in the Universe seemed to conspire, usually in a very painful way, to get me back on track and in purpose.
I was a full-fledged intuition denier in my early twenties. After going to Catholic high school, where the daily traditions felt way too cult-y and unbelievable to me, I liked living with my feet firmly planted on the real NYC sidewalk beneath me. If I couldn't see it, it didn't exist to me. In my mind, intuition paled in comparison to analytical, fact-based evidence. Basically, I had the mystic maturity of a one-year-old.
But after getting really sick — seizures! — and finding few reasonable solutions to my problems in the Western medical system, my worldview was rocked. All the scientific studies in the world couldn't explain my mysterious condition properly. Years of searching for answers got me digging deep into things that seemed to be far beyond my physical wellbeing. Eventually, I realized I wasn't just looking for a way to stop having seizures — I was looking for a way to trust my intuition and finally be happy within a life of my own design.
Although I was literally living my dream and accomplishing everything that was on my "five-year-goal" chart, I was sick and out of touch with myself.
After years of following the paths that other people had so generously laid ahead of me, I woke up to the fact that I was 1) deeply miserable, 2) lacking purpose and direction, and 3) completely out of touch with my own inner compass. Oh yeah — and I was still really suffering physically, having seizures on the subway on the way to dance classes, or on a plane while en route from Paris to Vancouver in the middle of what was supposed to be the work trip of a lifetime.
The three things that had defined my identity — my job, my creative work, and my romantic relationship — eventually slipped through my fingers.
With no anchor points around me, I was theoretically free to do whatever I pleased. At this point, I'd realized that I did not, in fact, like anything about my life, and that I was probably better off without those three identity markers.
But I honestly had no idea what to do next. It was terrifying. I felt as if I was floating in the middle of the ocean by myself, with no way to call for help.
FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION, THEY SAID. IT WILL BE FUN, THEY SAID.
Looking for answers outside of myself — for a year, I asked every single person I met how they got to where they were in their lives — made me realize that if I met anyone who said they had THE answer, I should run in the opposite direction.
The overwhelmingly annoying point of feedback I continued to receive? "Trust your intuition. What does your gut say?"
I looked down. I had not felt anything in my gut in a very, very long time. I didn't even know *how* to trust my gut. Honestly, most of my gut instincts seemed so stupid that I had lived for a lot of my life by making the opposite choice of what my intuition told me. These included, but were not limited to: run towards fear and difficulty instead of away from it; if your body is hungry, or tired, or in pain, you should ignore it; never give up no matter how hard things are; if someone's older than you, they probably know better than you; if you think your boyfriend's cheating, it's probably because you have low self-esteem; if you don't like someone when you first meet them, it's because you're judgemental and you need to work extra hard to be nice and accommodating to that person.
Obviously, this feedback made me roll my eyes. But what I had been doing wasn't working for me anymore, and so I began my quest to regain my intuition.
WHERE DOES ONE START WHEN ONE DOES NOT HAVE A MAP?
I am not the first person to walk down this path. And I'm certainly not the first person to realize that intuition, life purpose, and physical well-being are knotted together somehow. Caroline Myss' book, "Anatomy of the Spirit," explains how certain physical symptoms of dis-ease can be tied to spiritual dis-ease. "When The Body Keeps Score" tells us of the connection between physical wellness and mental well-being, and vice-versa. And the more controversial book, "When The Body Says No," argues that stress (including being out of purpose) causes major medical diseases like cancer.
I hadn't read any of these books when I started trying to trust my gut again. But I began to notice that the more I did follow my intuition, the fewer seizures I had. The aura that I used to get before having a seizure — a sort of sensory precursor to an episode, which in my case happened to sound like hearing the voices of everyone in a room amplified to the nth degree — started to become more subtle. A sensation here and there, usually when I had to make a tough decision, that seemed to guide me to the correct choice.
Like so many people before me, I was struck by the fact that my physical symptoms manifested when I ignored my intuition. So duh, no brainer, start listening to your intuition, right?
In a world that values data and hard facts over emotional intelligence and soft skills, listening to your intuition is easier said than done. But when you can master it, or at least listen to it as often as possible, a whole new world opens to you.
WE'RE ALL INTUITIVE. SO WE'RE ALL PSYCHIC.
In a way, intuition is just deep empathy. For yourself, and for the people around you. That's why it can feel like a superpower or a parlor trick, sometimes — because most people don't take the time to cultivate deep empathy. Because it can be hard. But it's so, so valuable.
It's been eight years since my last seizure, but I'm still not perfect at following my intuition. At my last job, I'd get debilitating migraines while in the office while sitting next to my boss, which would disappear as soon as I spent time alone in another part of the office. I still lose my period when I'm too stressed, which is a sign to me that my body can't support life (lol) so I better get my shit together and stop overloading my plate. I have a lot to learn, just like the next person.
But I can tell you that trusting my intuition has brought more joy and excitement into my life than I could possibly imagine. It's the reason I started Holisticism, why I moved to Los Angeles, and why I decided to fly across the country to go on a three-day road trip with a man I'd only had coffee with once. (OK, to be fair I vetted him first to make sure he wasn't a serial killer and also checked in with my sister hourly via text. BUT STILL. He's now my romantic partner, it all worked out.)