I was recently watching the incredible story about Norwegian native Magnus Carlsen’s journey to become the #1 World Chess Champion. Ever since he was a child, he relied on his intuition to guide his brilliant chess moves. During one scene, when he was clearly feeling the pressure of a small mob of adults staring down his every move, his father commented that his mind was blocking his intuition. He began to doubt himself, unable to hear or trust his gut feelings. That time, Magnus lost the game.

The way Magnus relies on his intuition, while also utilizing his wits, beautifully exemplifies how to use the best of both worlds. We don’t need to rely heavily on just intuition, or just wit. When we use both, we build confidence in all of our abilities. When Magnus used both, he became a world champion!

Here are 5 ways to stop ignoring your intuition and get in the zone, inspired by the movie, Magnus, and my own experiences…

1. Pursue your passion. When you’re passionate about something, and practice your skills, you’re more likely to be tuned into whatever it is that you’re doing. For example, if you are an animal lover and devote yourself to working with animals, you will most likely begin to sense their feelings and deepen your communication. If you work with people, you may find yourself becoming more perceptive about their personalities, and energy levels. If you are into sports, you may sense what feels right while in the game, and act instinctively. An artist may intuitively choose materials or colors, having a feeling what would work. Intuition develops from practice tuning into things. Whatever you’re naturally interested in will be the easiest way to start working with your intuition.

2. Keep learning, and visualizing. Even though Magnus is highly intuitive, he never solely relies on that gift. He is constantly studying and learning all he can about the game. He visualizes the chess moves he’ll make, practicing whatever he’s learning in his mind. The more you learn about a subject, the more confident you’ll become, and the more you’ll trust your intuition because your intuition has knowledge backing it up. If you practice visualizing situations, such as how you will respond to something or where you want to be in life, it will also help you further develop your intuition.

3. Stop overthinking. Magnus first listens to his intuition, then taps into his learned knowledge to make his final decision about what chess move to make next. This is a wonderful way to validate your gut feelings, and what feels “right.” But when he overthinks, you can sometimes see confusion take hold. We can overthink ourselves in circles, and that circular thinking creates a loop of doubt that deafens those subtle intuitive senses. When something feels right, trust it. You may have already experienced usually your initial feeling about something is accurate. When you find yourself overthinking, try a quick meditation. It works!

4. Whenever possible, avoid making decisions when you feel stressed and unclear. This won’t always be possible in life, but when you do have the opportunity to say, “I need time to think about this,” take it! Magnus is a chess prodigy, and even with his intuitive and intellectual genius, he still cracks under pressure sometimes. It’s very difficult to hear our gut feelings when fear, worry and pressure hijack our thoughts. Clear your mind with meditation, a nature walk, or help from a friend or coach, and you will be able to ascertain what feels like the right decision for you.

5. Relax and have fun. In a go, go, go culture, relaxation is sometimes seen as a luxury. It’s actually a necessity if you want to hear your intuition better. Magnus plays lighthearted card games with his family and listens to music to unwind and forget about the pressures in life for a while. When he sees his family cheering him on at competitions, you could see his stress dissolve into the simple joy of playing chess. It’s easy to forget to prioritize fun in the daily grind, but if you do you will enjoy the benefits of this mental reboot. You’ll shift yourself into a receptive, relaxed state, and that’s the best way to hear your intuition clearly.

I watched Magnus on Netfix. It’s also available to rent on You Tube and Amazon (link below).

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