Friday, April 18, 2014

Recovering Intuition

"Compliance causes a shocking realization that must be registered by all women. That is, to be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves. It is a tormenting tension and it must be borne, but the choice is clear."                                                                                                            - Clarissa Pinkola Estes 

What does "wild" mean to you? Does it only mean crazy, irresponsible? What does "nice" mean? Does it only mean good? In the fierce "Women who run with the wolves,"Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes invites us to take a journey into the wild with her - a journey back to our instinctual selves, that self which knows what is good for us and doesn't keep falling in the traps in the forest.

Most women have felt these traps as they've walked on the forest floor. It's only once we've snagged ourselves - cut ourselves, our values, bits of ourselves - that we start to give up our naivete.

How did we lose our ability to make our way through the forest? Where is that inner voice that tells us which turn to take, when to stop, how to spot traps? Dr Estes tells us that we may never have learnt to bond with this inner voice. She tells us of the "too-good" mother in the psyche. As a little girl growing up, you needed this sweet, maternal voice. The voice that said, "Go only this far." "Be safe." "Be careful." But once you grew up, you needed to be initiated into the ways of the wild. You needed a stronger, fiercer mother whose femininity extended beyond nurturing and hovering over the little one.

Dr Estes says, "Many women are stuck halfway through this initiation process - sort of hanging half in and half out of the hoop. Although there is a natural predator in the psyche, one who says, "Die!" and "Bah!" and "Why don't you give up?" on a rather automatic basis, the culture in which a woman lives, and the family in which she was raised, can painfully exacerbate that natural but moderate nay-saying aspect in the psyche."
If the "too-good mother" still lives on in you, you might be scared of taking risks, of going on your quest into the forest. The perimeters of your world will be small, closed. Your work is to dissolve this inner, too-nice voice. It could also be that you have never known this voice, and in your hunger for knowing it, you haven't looked around you and seen that the landscape has changed. What you need now is a different kind of encouragement, a voice that tells you: "I believe that you are capable of making good decisions."

If this kind of initiation process, a mother or motherly figure telling you that you can trust your intuition, is missing in your life, what can you do? Is your intuition irrevocably broken? Not so, says Dr Estes: "The breaking of the bond between a woman and her wildish intuition is often misunderstood as the intuition itself being broken. This is not the fact. It is not intuition which is broken, but rather the matrilineal blessing on intuition, the handing down of intuitive reliance between a woman and all females of her lines who have gone before her - it is that long river of women that has been dammed."

If you are such a woman, as a result, your grasp on your own intuitive knowing may be weak. But by exercising your intuition, you can strengthen and ultimately fully recover your intuitive gifts. Dr Estes asks: "What does one feed the intuition so that it is consistently nourished and responsive to our requests to scan our environs? One feeds it life - one feeds it life by listening to it. What good is a voice without an ear to receive it?"

You might have been that woman who only realized after the fact that you "should have" listened to your intuition. You sensed that something was wrong, but went along because you wanted to be nice. Now, when you sense something, follow that feeling. What makes you uncomfortable? What makes you feel right? What arouses your curiosity? Follow that soul voice and cook up your ideas. They will take you back home. 

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