Newsletter issue


Sharpen your Intuition: A Step-by-Step Guide To Get Insights When You’re Stuck

Sent on 29th April 2023

Do you prefer to listen? here's the audio version:

Hey!

It's Bruna here; happy weekend!

You’ll love this week's issue because you’ll learn how to sharpen your intuition and how to get insights when you need out-of-the-box solutions! Trusting your insights is key to developing solid confidence and fulfilment. This guide includes a tool that will help you to maximise the power of your insights - my clients use it regularly and get practical benefits from it, and you will too!

It will take you about 7 minutes to read it, and you'll walk away with:

  • Understanding what insights are and how they work

  • How to create the internal conditions to get insights when you need them 

  • A practical tool to turn insights into actions 

Enjoy!


When was the last time you had an insight?

You see? I’m not asking if you have insights… it’s a given that you do, like every other human. It’s a perk of being a human being; unfortunately only a few of us rely on them (and you can easily tell who they are by how confident and aligned they look).

I used to be one of those people who frequently ignored or dismissed them… until I realised how they work and why I should trust them.

Why do we tend to ignore them?
Well, part of the problem arises from the advice: "Believe in yourself!”.
Which I hate. It means absolutely nothing to me. Believe in what? How?
It’s an incomplete and useless piece of advice.

What they should tell you, instead, is “believe in what you feel; trust that if you feel something, it means something”.

Now you have a direction, something to reflect on.
Let’s see how it all works.


What is an insight?

An insight is an idea or a thought that suddenly bursts out of ‘nowhere’ and often offers a creative, unusual or unthought-of solution to a problem. It is a “connection” between two seemingly unrelated and dormant thoughts which collide and connect, triggering a quick elation. That sensation comes from the little dopamine rush released by the collision's electrical signal.

Remember when you watched a movie with a complex plot, and suddenly you made sense of the whole story? Didn’t you feel a quick thrill in that moment? That’s exactly how having an insight feels.

That’s why you should always trust that if you feel something, it’s because something has triggered that collision and investigating it may lead to sound ideas (confident people and geniuses heavily rely on them).


How can you have insights when you need them?

Insights only arise when some internal conditions are met. Think about when you had insights in the past… What were you doing? What mood were you in? Chances are, you were not crying/complaining/under pressure. Most likely, you were walking the dog, cycling or… showering, isn’t it? (more on that below!).

That’s because insights can only arise from a calm, slightly positive and engaging internal state that allows our endocrine system to release the “feel-good neurotransmitters” known as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. In that state, known as the brain “reward” state, insights are more likely to happen. That means that you cannot “request” them when you need them, but you can create internal conditions for them to arise. How?

For example, by focusing on past positive events or achievements (here’s a brilliant guide that helps you do that).

You can also facilitate a reward state by shifting your focus from the problem to the solution. i.e. stop reflecting on what’s not working and imagine how things will look and feel when the solution is found and applied.

Another key fact to consider when you need insights is that they arise when your prefrontal cortex (the “rational” side of the brain) is at rest. It means that the more you think, the less likely you are to get insights. That’s why you tend to have them while running/walking/resting and… when you’re about to fall asleep or as soon as you wake up!Geniuses know and develop systems that help them leverage those moments.

Did you know that Thomas Edison used to fall asleep with a ball in each hand so that when he fell asleep, he’d be awakened by the noise of the balls falling on the floor? That’s how he maximised the brief period of creativity and insight in the semi-lucid state that occurs just as we begin to drift into sleep, known as the hypnagogic state (the transitional state between wakefulness to sleep).

H I N T: keep a little notepad next to your bed so you can take note of any thoughts that may come in those precious moments so you can investigate them at the appropriate time.

I never have insights… What can I do to get them?

Chances are you had plenty of insights so far, but you may not have noticed them… simply because you’re not used to this happening, and didn’t know what to do with them anyway.

Let’s be honest: as children, we haven’t been trained to look inward and trust our own answers. We’ve been raised in a world that focuses on external perspectives and that’s why millions of people suffer from a lack of confidence, imposter syndrome, constant comparisons and so on.

Plus, there’s too much noise and distractions out there. If you’re not used to exploring your inner world, your radar for insights is probably off. So if you want to develop your intuition and recognise when it speaks to you through insights, shut down the noise, stop meaningless scrolling on your phone and filler chats. Here’s the best tool you can find to develop self-awareness.

NOW LET'S BREAK IT DOWN INTO ACTIONABLE STEPS:

Ok, here’s a quick summary of what we said so far, before we get practical:

  • Insights are powerful bursts of ideas or thoughts that suddenly come to mind and offer unthought-of solutions to problems

  • Every human being has insights, many dismiss them, but those who rely on them become confident and move faster in life

  • Insights arise when the brain is in a slight “reward” state, not focusing on the problem and letting the mind wander

STEP-BY-STEP guide to trigger insights when you’re stuck on a problem: **Tip: keep this handy**

  1. Be 100% clear on your goal or objective for which you need insights. Forget the details of the problem, think in terms of solutions; “How to empower my team” vs “I don’t want to lead an underperforming team anymore”.
  2. Put your brain into a positive, rewarding state. Reflect on how it will feel and look like when you have resolved your issue. What opportunities will open up that are not available to you now? Why is this so important to you?
  3. Give it “incubation” time: distance yourself from the problem, let it rest. Watch a film, have a walk and/or spend quality time in a relaxing, comfortable, quiet environment, ideally with white noise in the background (or calm, relaxing music) and soft lights.
  4. Let your mind wander without actively thinking about your issue. Wait for insights to emerge.
  5. Repeat.
(Truth be told, if you’re heavily stuck, hire a professional coach, who’s skilled at triggering “a-ha moments” and turn them into actions (book a free taster session if you’d like to try).

Why do people tend to have insights during the shower?

If you read the step-by-step guide above, you can easily spot why: the combination of staying away from the problem, the white noise generated by the water and the warm temperature of the environment tend to soften the boundaries between our inner and outer world, creating the perfect environment for insights to arise.

The best thing you can do in the shower / those moments is to let your mind wander freely and be open to exploring the unusual ideas and opportunities that may come to mind.

If, instead, you need some structured help, book a taster session and I’ll show you how my neuroscience-based coaching approach can quickly help even with just one session.

I had an insight… What shall I do with it?

That’s where the power of insights lies! The actions that follow an insight…. Here’s the tool I designed for my clients that will help you do just that. In this Excel file, you can jot down any insight (ideally as soon as they arise) and then ask yourself questions that will help you understand their meaning and, if appropriate, turn them into actions:

Screenshot of the tool my clients use to cement and explore their insights and turn them into potential actions. Find the tool here.

Bottom line: when you have an insight, NEVER let it fade away. Capture it by thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it. If it’s useless you can always dismiss it later…


IMPORTANT TIP: Bookmark the tool in your browser so you keep it handy - the sooner you capture and explore the insight, the better.

And there’s one final thing I’m often asked: “What’s the difference between insights and intuition?”

They’re clearly related, but while insight is a specific type of understanding that emerges from connecting previously unrelated thoughts, intuition is the broader ability to perceive or know something without relying on conscious reasoning or analysis. Intuition is often associated with the unconscious mind and can be influenced by past experiences and emotions.

That’s all for today, I hope you’re going to put this learning into practice immediately and enjoy the new doors that your renewed trust in your feelings will open.

And now that you know that “believe in yourself” means “trust that if you feel something, it means something” (and that you also know what to do with it), how do you feel?

As usual, hit reply and let me know what you think.

See you in two weeks, same place, same time.

Have a fab weekend,

P.S. Who do you know that can benefit from it? Help them by sharing it!

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