The relentless news cycle has left many Americans experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty. Liv Lane's advice: Trust your gut.
For 15 years, Lane — a former radio personality and communications professional — has worked to help people feel more centered and optimistic by honoring the goosebumps-worthy experiences and sensations we can't quite explain.
Now a successful "intuitive artist," she knows that the mere mention of "intuition" leads to eye rolls and woo-woo jokes among some people. But science bears out her thesis. Lane, of Excelsior, tells us how we might quiet the noise around us to better tune into that internal wisdom.
Q: Let's start with a definition of intuition.
A: It doesn't have to feel like a lightning bolt, but true intuition is not the result of thinking through something and weighing the options. Instead, an intuitive hit comes to us suddenly and organically. The trick is to not let fear talk us out of it. When I feel intuitively nudged to do something nerve-wracking — like reach out to someone I barely know or launch a product line (livlane.com) — I know that if I trust and follow it, I won't be disappointed.
Q: Why do you think people quickly dismiss the concept as New-Agey or silly?
A: A recent study showed 84% of Americans believe in trusting your gut – but they may not know how to do it themselves, and it's getting harder to hear that still, small voice during this age of information overload. Plus, I think many people confuse emotional decisions with intuitive decisions.
Q: How do you distinguish the two?
A: Fear and implicit bias can get in the way, so you have to be discerning about what is driving your choices. To trust our intuition means we can't have a vested interest in the outcome of what we're being led to do or say, nor expect validation or proof that we made the "right" choice all the time. For instance, you might feel yourself avoiding a certain intersection for no known reason, even if it's going to make you late for work. So you take the scenic route. Maybe that detour protected you from an accident or traffic jam — but you may never know for sure, and that has to be OK.
Q: You've also found that trusting one's gut can be helpful in the business world. Might you say more about that?
A: I love that it's growing more acceptable as a key aspect of decision-making; studies now show successful business people are more likely to trust their intuition than the average person. They're acting on those "aha!" moments when intuition brilliantly and swiftly combines data, life experiences and instinct to guide their decisions.
Q: What's the connection to mental health?
A: There's now ample research on the ways that trusting our intuition — and the mystical, magical experiences it allows us to be part of — contributes to our well-being. For example, a 2020 study by sociologists at Baylor and Harvard universities shows that consistently feeling spiritually connected (from sensing God's presence to experiencing inner peace) helps individuals flourish and cope with stressful conditions.
Q: When did you first experience your own intuitive "aha!" moment?
A: I have been highly intuitive all of my life — though I really didn't have a label for it for a long time. As a kid, it didn't cross my mind that other people weren't seeing angels and spirits, or feeling energy in everything and everyone. I didn't have the words or information at the time to know what it was, exactly, that made me different; I just gradually realized that I experienced the world around me in ways others didn't.
Q: Did that scare you?
A: True intuition rarely feels scary. But the stigma of sounding "crazy" made me resist revealing my own gifts to most people for many years. By junior high and high school, there were lots of cultural signals that seeing things, hearing things or inexplicably knowing things was weird and scary to other people. I actually think the majority of kids are highly intuitive, but we give kids so much to learn — from walking to talking to how to behave "appropriately"— that it's hard to hold onto something you can't see and which nobody makes a priority in the learning curve of adjusting to life on earth.
Q: So you tried to stuff your gifts?
A: I tried for a while to hide my gifts and ignore my intuition just to fit in. But the more I did that, the worse I felt. I honestly think it's one of the reasons I was so emotionally crushed by my son's traumatic birth in 2003, which left me reeling with postpartum depression and PTSD. I think the less "tuned in" I was, the more anxious and uncertain I got. So it's no surprise, looking back, that my foundation crumbled when a crisis hit. The healing journey that was required for me to get better — from medicine to therapy — became like a slow rebirth for me and my intuition.
Q: Can we train ourselves to be more intuitive?
A: Absolutely! Start by deciding to stay open to those moments of clear knowing, or signs and synchronicities that feel meant-to-be. Practice trusting them instead of overthinking them, and see what unfolds. As you train yourself to not need absolute proof that your feelings are right-on, it opens the door to more magic.