Keeping In Touch With Your Intuition: Dr Christine Gibson On How To Get In Touch With Your Intuition And When To Trust Your Intuition When Making Decisions
An Interview With Maria Angelova
Practice — the more you spend time noticing, reflecting, and fine-tuning your intuitive capacity — the stronger it gets. Taking time to ask yourself your own opinion, about events or relationships or decisions, and then follow the outcomes.
Intuition is defined as the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. Where does intuition come from? Can it be trusted? How can someone tune in to their intuition? To address these questions, we are talking to business leaders, coaches, mental health experts, authors, and anyone who is an authority on “How to Get In Touch With Your Intuition And When To Trust Your Intuition When Making Decisions.” As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Christine Gibson.
Dr. Gibson is a family doctor and trauma therapist, and author of The Modern Trauma Toolkit (releasing May of 2023). She has studied the alphabet soup of mental wellbeing therapies and skills to improve the effects of stress on the body. She drops tips on mental health, brain-body signals, and the ways that we cope with discomfort on Tiktok (@tiktoktraumadoc), Substack (Attuned), and a new YouTube series (Christy Gibson MD).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Edmonton, in Western Canada 50 years ago. My childhood was full of explorations of the nearby ravine, dabbling in athletics, and a lot of schooling. I was in academic programs and then learned French and some German on the side (subsequently forgetting most of it). My parents both grew up with modest means but managed to find excellent work, so I was fortunate to travel and dream big. This led me to becoming a physician and change-maker.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” This is a quote attributed to Ghandi but he actually said something quite a bit more eloquent. I also acknowledge that, even he, even Mother Theresa, most of our historical figures also had problematic stances. So, while we do our best to represent the change we’d like to see, I realize that our objectives are constructs of the time and geopolitical landscape we live in. For me, “being the change” is doing my best to fight inequity, to decolonize my own mind and biases, and to create systems of compassionate care — in health or beyond.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I would probably say the TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — “The Danger of a Single Story” — impacted me quite a bit. In this, she speaks of making assumptions about people based on one known element of their social identity. People are complex, dynamic, and can never be boxed into a single word or frame. Nobody is an “addict,” a “refugee,” a “taxi driver, “ a “doctor,” even “an American” without also being dozens of other things and having an inner world that happens beyond words and metaphors.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly does intuition mean? Can you explain?
Intuition means trust in self. It means attending to the signals coming from our body — the “gut instinct” travels through the vagus nerve to our brain. When we feel something in our stomach, this is the work of our mind-body connection. Somatic (body-based) signals travel up the efferent (upwards) path of the vagus, then our brain interprets those signals based on our past experiences, our expectations of the future, and our present state. So, it’s subjective and depends on so many factors. When we attend to this signal, believe it, and respond accordingly — this is how a person acts in alliance with their intuition.
How would you define common sense? Are intuition and common sense related?
Common sense is an ability to see a situation from alternate perspectives and even timelines. It’s the ability to see how something would “play out” and uses relational and systems-thinking skills. It relates to intuition in that part of what you would listen to in forming the common sense response would be your internal signals.
How are they different from each other?
I think intuition comes from inside our body — related to how we feel about a situation and the signals that we get internally. Common sense strikes me more as having a reasonable ability to predict how others will respond in a circumstance, allowing you to prepare your own response — so it seems more a cognitive function than a body-based one.
What are the positive aspects of being in touch with your intuition? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Positive aspects of being in touch with one’s intuition would involve knowing when something (or someone) is “too good to be true.” If someone is very charismatic, popular, and seems competent — our initial impression might be quite positive. But sometimes these attributes can be faked, and our intuition might be the signal telling us that there’s more under the surface. We might take our time to build trust with such a person, maybe avoid getting overly involved (whether it’s a personal or work relationship).
Are there negative aspects to being guided by intuition? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
I wouldn’t say it’s negative per se, but a person who’s experienced past trauma might be guided towards protecting themselves more often than necessary. When a person interprets their somatic signals, having been let down or harmed in the past, they are more likely to have intuition that “things are dangerous” or “people can’t be trusted.” Their intuition will be biased towards the negative, worrying about future events that are unlikely or even unrealistic. This is adaptive and is part of what needs to be unlearned on a mental health journey — to refocus intuition with foundational beliefs that “some things work out” and “some people might be safe.”
Can you give some guidance about when one should make a decision based on their intuition and when one should use other methods to come to a decision?
People should use intuition as one factor that helps them make sound decisions. I think that this is seen as a way to make emotional decisions rather than rational, but this is not allowing the gift of intuition to be expressed in its fullest potential. People who include their intuitive impression of a situation or person in their decisions are always operating with more information. I would hesitate to say that it should be left out, but to be examined mindfully — “Why might I have this impression and could there be a bias?” “What past experiences might be clouding my judgement?” “Does what my intuition is telling me outweigh the facts that are clear to me now?”
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common barriers that hold someone back from trusting their intuition?
People might stop listening to their intuition if it has harmed them. Someone who ends up dating or partnering with a person that harms them is less likely to trust their instincts. Someone who takes a job that has a distressing or racist or otherwise unfriendly atmosphere might worry that they didn’t get the correct signals about the job — even if all the signs seemed reasonable at first. Once we’ve been in a situation where we felt we “let ourselves down,” we mistrust our ability to read a circumstance. We fear vulnerability, get anxious about possible threats, and become more closed.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are five methods that someone can use to become more in touch with their intuition?
1 . Somatics — We get more in touch with our intuition when we get more in touch with our bodies. This isn’t something everyone is comfortable or capable of doing and might need to be practiced. Spending more time in movement, doing anything from yoga to dance to simply walking. Paying attention to the signals from the body — whether it’s looseness or tension, hot or cold, wet or dry.
2 . Noticing — The brain interprets the signals from our body almost like a reflex, so taking an observing stance helps us gauge the strength and reliability of the signals. Something like “I’m feeling nauseated when I’m walking into this setting, I wonder what that’s telling me,” or “My heart pounds so hard whenever this person is around,” and really examining why this is happening.
3 . Writing — When a person has an instinctive idea about another person or situation, they might forget it or fail to follow through. Writing something down about it from the onset allows us to track the truth of our intuition over time. Some people have a journaling practice, others might use their phone contacts with emojis.
4 . Connect — if someone has proven to be trustworthy over time, ask their opinion about the issue or person. You don’t always need to take their advice, but it helps to learn how others approach their intuition. If you can learn how your messages sound similar, it can be a good way to amplify those personal signals.
5 . Practice — the more you spend time noticing, reflecting, and fine-tuning your intuitive capacity — the stronger it gets. Taking time to ask yourself your own opinion, about events or relationships or decisions, and then follow the outcomes.
You are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I just wrote a book about trauma, The Modern Trauma Toolkit, as I don’t think it’s fully understood how much it influences our lives. Even here, when we talk about intuition — this is something that can be lost for a person who went through trauma. Imagine being stuck, like a child, in a situation where your supposed caregiver is harming you. Your intuition would be screaming at you to escape, without that possibility. This can often lead to an adult who has learned to suppress the signals about their innate instincts. In some occasions, it can create cynicism — not trusting anything. In either case, rewiring this system has to come from healing the beliefs that formed during the original trauma event.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to have lunch with Megan Markle. I think she epitomizes the struggle of our times — having faced racism, classism, sexism and is trying to get her story told. It’s the story of collective trauma that we face.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Professional site www.christinegibson.net
Book site www.moderntrauma.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.
Keeping In Touch With Your Intuition: Dr Christine Gibson On How To Get In Touch With Your Intuitio was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.