Trust your Gut Feeling: How to cultivate a relationship with your instinct

As a traveling freelancer, intuition is essential on so many levels. Your inner gut can help you understand how to be safe in an unknown land, be respectful to the culture, and run your nomadic business effectively.

But how does intuition work? Let me introduce you to a scientific study.

Scientists say that humans appear to have two different operating systems:

System 1 – the “limbic” brain - is quick, instinctual, and the subconscious part of the brain. It’s believed that we’ve had this part of the brain since prehistoric time.  This is the fun side that makes all of our wacky, impulsive decisions… like where we go on our next trip!

System 2 – the neocortex – is our slower, logical, less emotive side which is newer to evolution. This is the more sensible side that keeps things level so we don’t run away with ourselves. This side reminds us that we can’t always play, but have to earn money too.

Our intuition comes from our limbic brain because instinct is more of a sense that something we think out. But should we trust our gut? And how often is it actually right? Surely, it’s better to plan and think things through when it comes to business and travel.

Well researchers found that the limbic brain can often know the right answer before the logical side does. For example, in one study, researchers asked participants to play a card game where the goal was to win the most money. But little did they know that the game was rigged right from the start! One stack of cards was rigged to provide small gains and few losses, whilst the other provided big wins followed by big losses.

It took 50 cards before the participants had a hunch which deck was safer… and 80 cards before they could actually explain it. But the most interesting bit of the study is that it only took 10 cards for sweat glands to open slightly every time they reached for a card on the dangerous deck! This pretty much proves that intuition is an incredibly powerful tool that we all should take advantage of…. Especially as digital nomads!


So how to deepen your relationship with your intuition?


1.    Meditate

Messages from your gut tend to be slight or quiet, so spending time in silence will help you make sense of these messages. As The Art of Intuition describes “the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it”. If you want to be in tune with it, you must give yourself the time to explore your inner world as well as the global one.

2.   Be mindful using all of your senses.

Be socially aware! Instead of listening to your monkey mind wonder, spend the time focusing on your surroundings, people’s reactions, and how you’re feeling. This will not only help you steer clear of danger, but also help you to engage with cultures in an enjoyable and respectful way. Cultivating a mindful practice using the Headspace or other smart phone apps could help you start up a practice.

3. Get Creative

Just because you are travelling around doesn’t mean that you have to put your creativity on hold. Take a day every now and then to draw or write. It allows your intuition to speak up and get heard!

4. Spend time in nature.

It’s easy as a digital nomad to get locked up in a big city like Chiang Mai and spend all day focusing on projects. Remember time away from technology allows us to connect with the world in a more authentic way and can do wonders for your mind, body and soul.

5. Release resistance

Don’t call yourself crazy when you get a wild hunch. If you need to leave somewhere, go. If you want to stay somewhere longer, do! Your intuitive side knows you best and life is too short to not get what you want! Remember that your lateral mind cares for you too, but make sure it doesn’t stop you living your dream!