Maia Toll
I paused…

Trust your intuition, my heart whispered.

You’re being paranoid, my head replied. He said there were no tomatoes. He wasn’t confused. He even asked if you had a nightshade intolerance. He gets it.


The smell of the soup kicked up my fear.

One tiny taste and I was sure there was tomato.

Stop it, Maia. No one is lying to you.

I ate a few more bites.

The waiter appeared at our table. Flustered, he reached for my bowl:

“I’m so sorry. New chef… changed the recipe…”

I put down my spoon. I could almost hear my heart saying “I told you so.”

I teach my students to trust themselves, to trust their own perceptions and intuition over what they read or what they’re told or what a waiter says he knows.

It’s rough when your body wisdom goes against the status quo or when you feel like you’re making a social scene by following your intuition. It takes a bit of bravery to listen to your own heart first. Click To Tweet

And it takes time and experimentation to learn what’s actually intuition and what’s simply your brain getting bossy (you can read more on Bully Brain here!).

On this particular evening at a favorite Asheville restaurant, first my intuition (I had the sense of “something’s not quite right” before that bowl of soup was even placed in front of me) then my body wisdom (my nose and tongue parsing ingredient), were shouting warnings… but I listened to my brain’s chatter instead.

Why? Why do we tune out our bodies when they are clearly offering up their truth?

How can you learn to trust your body wisdom and your intuition?

If your head isn’t listening to your heart or the inner-knowing of your body, ask yourself these questions:

What’s Your History?

My grandmother suffered from migraines and I grew up hearing that she was a hypochondriac. Need I say more?

We each have our own story that colors how we see the world. It’s in the things that have been said (and not said) by those around us as we grew up.

We have a list of things we want to be and not be… and until we make that list conscious, we are always subconsciously measuring our actions against our list.

So for me, I don’t want to be a hypochondriac and I’ll go to great lengths to avoid being perceived as one. When this was unconscious, I ignored my body’s wisdom all the time.

Now that I understand this tendency within myself, I can often (not always!) choose intuition over my instinct to protect my reputation!

Are You Exhausted?

Like you, I make a gazillion decisions a day. I make decisions for my health, my home, my business. I decide what to make for dinner.

Every once in a while I want to abdicate for ten minutes. I want to let someone else make a choice.

This gives my brain great leverage. It can use thoughts like Are you the only one who knows anything? or Can’t you just let someone else take care of this?

If I had stopped and tuned in, I would have known I should trust my intuition and my body wisdom. But it was the end of the day, and I was tired, and I wanted my ten minutes of not being in charge.

Have You Given Away Your Power?

Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy for someone else to establish authority.

And if you’re exhausted and ready to not be in control for a few moments, it’s even easier.

I asked the waiter what didn’t have tomato or potato.

He said “Oh! You’re nightshade intolerant.” And proceeded to list what I could and couldn’t eat from the menu.

He established his authority by recognizing my condition and appearing knowledgeable about the intersection of my nightshade intolerance with the restaurant’s offerings.

Think about this:

If it’s this easy to give up authority to a waiter whom I have never met before, how much easier is it to give up authority to your family physician or lawyer, or to your mother, or to a college professor? When our intuition flies in the face of what an authority is telling us, it takes a stronger sense of self to stand in your own power and trust your intuition. Click To Tweet

What’s the antidote?

Notice when your head and your heart aren’t in accord.

When my inner-voice sounds like it’s auditioning for Taming of the Shrew, that’s a pretty good sign that my brain is in bully mode and my intuition is being over-ruled (or at least under-heard).

My inner-voice’s wisdom is never loud and frantic—and when I’m delivering messages to myself in full sentences, it’s pretty much always gonna be my brain that’s chattering away in over-drive.

When you hear that agitated inner-voice, see if you can isolate it to your head. Feel the noise coming from your brain… then feel into your body. How does it feel?

You may not have words for what your body knows, so sink into the sensations. Find the calm surety which comes from gut knowledge and heart wisdom.

Begin to recognize what fear feels like in your body.


Because your brain will usually get overactive when you’re scared. Fear muddies your ability to hear the voice of your heart, to trust your intuition and inner-wisdom

I’m pretty terrified of an accidental nightshade ingestion because with my particular intolerance even a small bite can lead to a migraine and a stupid amount of pain. My fear distorts my ability to really hear and listen to my inner voice.*

What distorts your ability to hear the small voice within? What makes you ignore your intuition?

Step into stillness so you can feel what’s right for you.

Again move your attention from your mind down into your heart.

Don’t ask yourself what you think; ask yourself what you feel.

Like you, I’m a work in progress with this. I occasionally let my desires override my good sense.

One thing I know: while learning to trust your intuition is a process, ultimately it’s about loving yourself more than you love the soup.

(Wanting a deeper look at your own intuitive strengths? Take the quiz here).

Big Hugs—

* If you find that fear or panic is an issue for you, try carrying a bottle of Five Flower Formula or Rescue Remedy in your bag. When you find yourself fearful, put a drop under your tongue and take a few seconds to regroup.