It was my first job out of college, and it was overwhelming. I was twenty-two years old, green, fresh out of school, and scared.
The hospital’s Neonatal ICU was a place of great intensity. I can still remember the yelling of orders.
“Start an IV ASAP and get that drip going now!” And I’d scramble to do so, all the while knowing I had to hook up the heart monitor on a different baby, check a temperature, suction . . . a list of “to do’s” so long that I teetered on the edge, feeling so overwhelmed I did not know where to begin. There were so many critical tasks to perform and so little time.
An Intuitive Feeling
As hectic and frightening as it was, those early days in my nursing career taught me to develop the ability to keep a cool head and allow intuition to move through me to get the job done. When I think back on those days, it was as if I had found a guiding presence from deep within, a calm intuitive whisper that led me. “Relax. Focus. One thing at a time. You know what to do.” Once I understood how to use this intuitive feeling, I have never stopped listening to that innate voice.
Actually, for me, the challenges of motherhood do not feel so different, and that same feeling of trusting my intuition as a nurse continues to guide me as a mother. For me, as wonderful as motherhood can be– it also can feel overwhelming, hectic, and holds uncertainties. And the challenges and unknowns are constantly changing with every stage.
Now, as a mother of three grown children, I find that I have had the capacity to perform in ways I never thought possible. Much like my experience as an ICU nurse, mothering has shown me that my reservoir of intuition runs deep.
Evidence of Things Unseen
In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcom Gladwell writes about a study that focused on nurses, intensive care unit workers, firefighters, and other people who make decisions under pressure. The study concluded that when experts make decisions, they don’t always logically and systematically compare all available options, as we are taught to do. Because in real life it all moves much too slowly. The study showed that nurses and firefighters would size up a situation almost immediately and act, drawing on experience and intuition instead to do their jobs.
Gladwell describes the concept of what he refers to as “thin slicing,” the ability to tune in and focus on a few particular details, leading us to better decision-making than if we spend time to gather all the available information.
Are you tuned in to your own intuitive powers? Do you allow yourself the power of ‘thin-slicing’ to help your parenting choices day-to-day?
Observe Your Child in a New Way
Try this exercise with your family. Take a moment to pause and be with your breath. Use this technique to soothe you right now. Bring all of your awareness to your body. Notice the contact of your feet with the ground. Now bring your attention to your breath. Notice that you are breathing. Feel your breath moving in and out more strongly.
Notice how your breath begins to make space in your body and creates more space between your thoughts. Relax into your breath— now look at your child. With keen awareness, soften your gaze, and with a heart filled with compassion truly “listen” to what they have to say.
Observe your child’s tone and their mood. Use a very subtle noticing. There are no barriers of assumption, judgment, or criticism. This way of being completely present with your child drops you into to a space where your intuition can lead.
Much like the voice that guided me as a new ICU nurse, I learned to stop doubting my own ability and return to a feeling of confident knowingness. With practice, this technique evolves and you become more grounded and familiar with this way of ‘noticing’, your clarity improves, the signals get louder, and you gain access to a place that has always been available to you— perhaps just undiscovered.
Mothers utilize intuition every day, often unknowingly. Frequently my body knows long before my mind catches up— how to tune into my own inner compass to care for myself and guide my children.
Believe in You
Can you be open to the idea that you know more than you think? Why are we so quick to follow the advice of our family, friends, authority figures, who we imagine have so much more knowledge than we do? The plain and simple truth is YOU are the only one who knows— the feeling that connects you to that uncomfortable nudge, a “something doesn’t feel quite right” notion, or perhaps an unexplainable nudge to take a different approach.
These are signals, your visceral response trying to alert you. And just the opposite, if you are getting a deeply confident, peaceful feeling, don’t question it. The trickiest part of you learning to trust your vibes is that your feeling won’t always give you the message you want to hear or believe, but they will always lead you to the truth. Einstein sums up the feeling well, “When the solution is simple, God is answering.”
Welcome the Feeling, Not Command One
Intuition is subtle, unseen, and easily dismissed as “nonsense.” For me, the word non-“sense” is literal; it means that you aren’t paying attention, not utilizing all of your senses, forgetting about your sixth sense. Remember when using your intuition not to try too hard. Once you shift your awareness to the fact that you are tapping into your instinct, intuition usually comes without your invitation. You are welcoming an intuitive feeling, not commanding one.
Even though all of us have this innate ability– most of us fail to acknowledge our gift and use our instinctive sixth sense. I refer to my ‘intuitive whisper’ as a very natural way for me to maneuver the challenges of parenthood and to bring forth confidence in my own abilities.
Join me. Let go of that overwhelmed feeling and—relax, focus, and trust in your own deep reservoir of motherly wisdom.
Meet our guest author, Elizabeth Irvine.
Elizabeth Irvine is a nurse, educator, and award-winning author. Her philosophy and teachings are based on thirty years experience as a health care professional and her yogic style of living, both of which provide the foundation of her work today.
Irvine’s books, Language of the Soul: Fifty-Two Affirmations to Guide You, Healthy Mother Healthy Child, and A Moment’s Peace all provide a calming and healing influence along with simple steps to bring peace and serenity to you and into the home. She facilitates workshops and retreats in locations around the world. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.
Check out her website truewellbeing.com.