Illustration courtesy of Weronika Siwiec
Why It’s Essential Women Begin to Understand Their Energetic Boundaries
New York Times–bestselling author Laura Day likes to joke that she is the grandmother of the modern intuitive movement (she’s not that old), but she does have a point: She’s written four books on the subject, including Practical Intuition, How to Rule the World from Your Couch, The Circle: How the Power of a Single Wish Can Change Your Life, and Welcome to Your Crisis. What’s more fascinating is that Day runs a consultancy, counting blue chip stock companies as clients, where she functions as an in-house intuitive, offering guidance on product road maps and development, go-to-market strategies, and acquisitions. Her real passion, though, is teaching people to develop their own intuition, particularly women—too often, she believes, we have thoughts we identify as our own that come from other people. And many of us lack necessary energetic hygiene to maintain healthy boundaries. Refining this skill set and understanding how to tap into intuition to achieve what we want in this lifetime are power tools we all deserve to wield for ourselves.
A Q&A with Laura Day
Intuition is simply a powerful way of getting the information you need. It makes your perceptions clearer and your actions more effective, and it focuses your attention on what you need to know. When you use intuition effectively—and that is a learning process, one I am still working on even after forty years of being a professional intuitive—your life works, and you have more space for joy and ease.
Life is overwhelming, especially for women. We multitask in our actions and in our feelings—directing, protecting, and anticipating the needs of others. In fact, one of the most powerful things I teach is how women can have better boundaries and be less porous, less subject to other people’s thoughts and feelings, so that they can learn to act in their own best interests. When women learn to work with intuition, they learn to choose their goals and then integrate intuition in a way that puts them on a healthy automatic pilot, filtering out what is not useful and making room for more of what allows them to accomplish their tasks and goals.
Intuition can be trained and honed. Part of my job is to use my intuition to see what others can’t yet see, but another very big part of my job is training others to intuit for themselves. Trained intuition is direct, accurate understanding. It is, simply put, the ability to get the information you need to make good decisions.
When you give intuition a properly defined target or question, it will give you back accurate information. Intuition training is mostly teaching people to answer questions with no information, because once we have information, the mind wants to reason.
Brilliant CEOs, traders, doctors, actors, lovers, and leaders are intuitive. The part of their brain that properly sorts information to accomplish a goal is well developed, so they make forward-thinking, correct decisions, allowing them to effectively accomplish their goals. But even the best of them can be trained to do more with what they have. By the way, an effective sociopath or criminal also has to be a good intuitive. Intuition is simply a powerful way of getting the information you need.
A simple beginner’s exercise is to write six questions on six identical pieces of paper. Put these pieces of paper in six identical envelopes, and, every so often, pick up an envelope and write down everything you are experiencing once the envelope is in your hand. When you are done, and only when you are done, look at the question. You may be very surprised.
This is the hardest question in all human perceptions. People struggle to distinguish a thought from a feeling and a feeling from a grounded reaction. The biggest challenge in intuition is knowing what is accurate intuition and what is wishful or fearful thinking, or simple imagination. My specialty is precognition (predicting the future), and this is even more difficult to assess, because you don’t know whether you are correct until the future event happens.
Something alchemic happens when you document your intuitive information—getting it out of your messy brain, away from thought and feeling, and into view on the page, where you can see if your impressions and predictions are correct or simply the result of too much sugar for lunch!
In documenting your information, you send a strong message to your subconscious that you are looking only for accurate information, and you can see where you have hits and where you have misses. This process will improve your accuracy over time. I have clients who have worked with me for over thirty years and have bookshelves (y’all remember writing on paper, right?) of my predictions! Some events, predicted decades ago, are happening now. Document, document, document. You will create powerful life maps for your relationship, company, and future.
The starting advice that I give all of my students is: Know what your questions and goals are. Really state them clearly. Know the “what if” answers you are afraid of, and allow intuition to come up with some plan B’s, so you can allow yourself to see clearly. I suggest using a goal as opposed to a question, because we all know what answers we want to our questions, and that skews what we are willing to see. It is better to let intuition work instead of the thinking, imagining mind. One of the things I do in my workshops is help students develop a nose for these distinctions.
Questions tend to bring up your anxiety, whereas goals incite ingenuity. Feelings are not intuitions, and often the telltale sign of an intuitive “hit” is that it contains striking information with no emotion attached. For example, decades ago I would work with various police departments. Sometimes I would “see” horrifying things intuitively in response to the questions they would ask. I would report them without emotion, as if I were reporting the weather, simply data, disconnected from me. These seasoned cops were horrified at my composure, but in the moment of perception, that disconnection allowed me simply and accurately to report.
So the plane crash you are “seeing” with terror, or the affair you are sure your partner is having because you feel it, or the great business opportunity that makes you tingle every time you think about it—these are probably not examples of intuition. The clear, cold sense that you should talk to someone in your company who doesn’t seem useful to you and later gets promoted to the head of your department will show you the power of simply following your cool insights!
Where there is “juice,” there is inaccuracy!
By the way, any intuitive (or anyone else for that matter) who tells you they are 100 percent accurate or have access to the truth, the word, or wisdom that one cannot attain any other way, is someone to run—not walk—away from. People go to “psychics” and credit them with magical powers, but we all have these abilities. That is why I emphasize our groups. It is so important to have groups within which we exchange intuition. All my books are really workshops, because of my strong belief that intuitive communities are successful communities and that when people share intuition, all boats rise. Everybody makes mistakes, and even though you should suspend judgment enough to let information in, you should never give away your power to be the final word on your life and future.
Mediumship is all about how you use your attention. With most intuitive work, you are “traveling” to the information you need, or it is “traveling” to you. With mediumship, you are allowing yourself to become your information. You can become someone else. You experience them as they experience themselves. It creates profound understanding, because you have a new language with which to experience. This is not the most accurate way to get information—it is biased from the point of view of the person you are expressing—but it is the easiest intuitive skill to teach, because we do it all the time without awareness. It is one of the most powerful intuitive states to become aware of, since a lot of distress—from depression to physical hunger—can be a result of partial and unintentional mediumship. I teach my students to ask themselves, Is this my feeling, my urge, my will, or is someone else “in” me?
I live near the World Trade Center. Before 9/11, without really noting it, I began gathering cash and bottled water, I took protective masks from my father’s medical office, I bought lots of electrical tape and ordered air filters. My trained intuition is always preparing me, and on that occasion, without a lot of drama, it did just that.
Something similar happened just before the 2008 stock market crash. I felt uncomfortable staying in the market and I sold all my stocks. I wouldn’t even have noticed what I was doing, except that I remarked on it on a radio show before the crash, and so when the crash came it was a matter of record.
Intuition works best when it is on automatic pilot. You don’t get news bulletins. It simply, quietly prepares you for life. My fourth book, The Circle, is all about putting your intuition on an effective automatic pilot. It starts with being aware of your goals, questions, and what you treasure in life. Of course, we all have areas where we are blindsided. For this reason, it is important to have a community where people share their intuition with you so that you are not ambushed by what you simply don’t want to see.
You are your own hardest person to read. Even when you get a glimmer, you may hide from an unpleasant intuition. Other people, however, can read you with accuracy, because of their perspective. For that reason, intuition is a great community builder and a great equalizer. We often evaluate people by their status, but when you realize that the person sitting next to you—perhaps someone you might have regarded as a nobody—may have the information that can save your life, relationship, or business or have the ability to organize energy in a way that can heal you, wow, everyone is somebody pretty important.
I do public readings at almost all of my events. I try to phrase things in a way that is vague to anyone except the person the information is meant for. But it is important for people to see this way of sharing. Wouldn’t it be great if we freely (and accurately) offered help and guidance to one another? I always ask that the audience get the email of at least one other person to exchange questions/readings with. When we feel empowered to help one another, we feel empowered in our own sometimes overwhelming lives.
Boundaries are wonderful things. The same brain style that allows someone like me to be highly intuitive has downsides. Often people like me have had head injuries or very traumatic childhoods, which didn’t allow them to develop healthy egos and healthy filters.
Anything that allows you to have a sense of boundaries and separateness and stops your attention from wandering—planting it firmly in the physical and the here and now—helps. Exercise, deep breathing, noticing when you are wandering into someone else’s experience in a way that is not helpful to you are a few good approaches. I find twenty (miserable) minutes of meditation a day allows me to notice how many places I am at once and gives me a pattern of coming back to me and my breath.
Physical isolation, even if that means just closing your eyes at a party for a few seconds and experiencing your senses, can set up a filter.
Ritual, such as designating bathing as a time to consciously get the world off you, or making your half hour on the elliptical a time to fill yourself with you, can help. Routine helps, too. It can be a kind of energy exoskeleton in times of stress.
The more you can be honest about your vulnerabilities and limitations, the more you can function with integrity and grounding. I often warn people when I lecture that I may lose my train of thought. In my youth, that was downright humiliating. Now everyone is ready to remind me, and it becomes an intimacy I share with my audience or students.
The most effective way of using intuition to create a successful life is to learn to work with your feelings, your biases, and your reactivity, and allow intuition to become an objective voice. If you pick one goal and notice the thoughts, inspirations, new people you notice, and choices you begin to examine, that is intuition at work. Awareness is everything.
Bestselling author Laura Day has spent three decades helping individuals, organizations, and companies use their innate intuitive abilities to create profound changes in their lives. Her work has helped demystify intuition and demonstrate its practical uses in the fields of business, science, medicine, and personal growth. She has trained thousands of people to use their brains and perceptions in effective ways, helping scientists, celebrities, business executives, and other professionals realize their goals while creating supportive and inspiring communities. Day has been featured in many publications, including Newsweek, New York magazine, The Independent, Bottom Line, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and People magazine. She speaks regularly both in the US and abroad and has appeared on numerous shows including Good Morning America, The View, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as programs on CNN and Fox News.