Two nights ago, after finishing a particularly insightful weekend, I was exhausted. I tucked into bed earlier than usual, and immediately fell into a series of dreams.
In my final dream, I was visiting a family vacation home in which my grandparents resided. My grandmother invited me to come into the attic, where she wanted to show me something. We climbed up a ladder into a room filled with light, and in the corner was a stroller. I walked over, and found myself within it - not as I am today, but in my infant likeness, as I've seen in pictures for my entire life.
I stood still in amazement and wonder. I then unhooked the straps, picked up the baby and cradled her. She was warm and new, with a full head of hair. I held her to my shoulder, hugged her, and felt an enormous amount of love for her. And then I placed her back into the stroller, secured the straps, and gently put her hat back on.
And then, I woke up.
Over the course of my first coaching module, we spoke often about intuition - our inner voice that tells us what feels right, and that clues us in to the invisible energies around us. We are all born with this quick, instinctive operating model, what Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman called "System One." It helps protect us in our physical environment and share insights around what we should do next, and as infants, we express it freely and without barrier.
As we age, our logical selves grow in amazing ways, and a second system is flexed. "System Two" helps us self-regulate, rationalize, and respond to the social cues and rules around us. The evolved left brain solves problems and make decisions to adhere to social expectations. Think of the preschooler, who can alter her emotional response to align with those around her, even if it doesn't match up with what she feels inside. But what gets muddled is the gut reaction - and the one that might have been right all along.
In coaching, using intuition is an excellent way to read between the spaces and words used and elevate the connectivity and action around a client's issue. In our everyday lives, it's an art that can often be lost amidst the noise of the digital world, our busy traps, and the rationalizing that we do to make sense of it all. Studies have even shown, however, that when it comes to making major decisions, trusting your instincts can help you find an outcome that leaves you more fulfilled and satisfied in the end.
I spent yesterday trying to rationalize my dream. I assumed it might have been related to the fact that we're selling my grandparents' vacation house. I pushed it aside. And then, as I recounted it to my father later in the day, it hit me - rather intuitively - and I began to cry.
After a weekend of feeling true validation that confirmed myself, my experiences, and my path, I realized that for me, the dream was about nourishing my inner child. It was exploring how I am getting back in touch with her, and remembering how to love and care for her.
There are a few ways that you can practice rediscovering your intuitive side. Meditation is an excellent one, as it helps center yourself to the "now," dimming the noise and distractions. Spending time in nature - embracing Friluftsliv - can also help. And lastly, guided imagery is wonderful exercise for opening the heart and mind. But really, any simple act of fun and relaxation can help you be more present to yourself. By allowing a greater level of noticing and listening, we can better remember to hug our inner children and let them speak more freely and often.
For more on Daniel Kahneman, check out "Thinking, Fast and Slow." For more guided imagery, check out Belleruth Naparstek's "Guided Imagery for Connecting with your Spiritual Guide."