Find the closest mirror, look at the reflection, and say hello to an expert who can inform, advise, and lead you to a deeper and more enlightened understanding of self. The greater meanings of our lives—the answers to those “who am I?” and “Why am I here?” questions that both plague and intrigue all of us–benefit from this enlightened perspective.

No matter how long you stare at a an individual puzzle piece, you probably won’t see the picture it’s part of without peeking at the box lid. And in life, without the big picture, it’s difficult to make sense out of what appears sometimes to be the meaningless and random minute-by-minute playback of each day’s events. But while daily events considered individually can seem devoid of meaning, when pieced together, these events become beautiful stories with significance well beyond what we might have imagined.

When we’re missing the big picture and feeling adrift, tuning into our intuitive selves to gain a broader sense of our significance can be helpful. This can sharpen an out-of-focus perspective just a little until the big picture becomes apparent. Different from the expert who operates on the analytical, the intuitive “expert” has a more non-linear and creative approach. But contrary to what we’ve been lead to believe, creative does not mean unreliable.

Analytical vs Intuitive. Our Western bias towards the analytical can be a blind spot for most of us at one time or another. Our love of logic shouldn’t preclude an occasional (or better yet, daily) check-in with intuition. Intuition helps us know what is important to us, and better accept that this may not always match up with what others find important. It shortens the distance between question and answer by cutting the fat and getting rid of extraneous information that we think we need to consider, but don’t.

In my clinical work with clients, for instance, I must sometimes decide what to focus on and tease out of session content so that we are working efficiently on the client’s behalf. I draw on my own intuitive sense of where to look, always weighing my own sense of the essential focal points against what the client has already determined is pertinent. This helps me to wade through the great many details discussed in any given session and get to those that will most efficiently guide our trajectory. This is something that the client can also learn to do, and teaching this skill is one of the most important things I do. I must admit, though, that it is not a skill that is easily taught.

Intuition can, at times, be quite evasive. A great many things can step between between us and our intuitive guidance. Distractions competing for our attention, leftover “should” and “shouldn’t” messages from our early family life, and fearful avoidance of what intuition is actually saying (What!?–You’re not actually suggesting that I…) all add to this evasiveness. When these get in the way, taking a step back from our typical hard-wired connection with the fact-based world can be helpful. This entails turning away from what our senses are telling us, and better attuning to inner wisdom via our intuition. Dreams and daydreams can sometimes provide an alternate way to access intuition, as can a formal meditation practice. Note-taking is optional, but has proven to be a great tool for me. The space of a day or two can enhance my interpretation of dream details, even if initially the dream seems quite nonsensical. A general willingness to follow intuitive hunches can also heighten “inner expert” activity; picking up a book that catches your eye, taking an alternative route when driving, or following your sense of fun are all ways to let the intuitive know that you are listening.

Each of us has our own internal guru who routinely advises us, but whom we just as routinely ignore. And because we live in the age of more narrowly defined expertise, we’ve become more accustomed to placing more of our trust in “outside” expert than the one who resides within. And who wouldn’t? Those authorities we place so much confidence in frequently add to our knowledge and understanding and tell us how to do just about anything more effectively. But learning to trust the expert within can be life-altering. After all, who can better make sense of your life experiences and lessons than you?

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