Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: What do you do when you have lost your intuition? As of recently—the last few years actually—I feel as if I've completely lost my intuition, or as some people like to call it, my gut instinct. I am a healthy 34-year-old female. I exercise regularly, attempt to meditate (as much as my roaming mind will allow) and consider myself quite intelligent. However, I can't make a decision for the life of me...or rather for fear of choosing poorly. I'm afraid to make any moves or changes in my life in fear that they will be the wrong ones and they'll simply take me through a revolving door. So instead, I make none, and nothing happens. I want a partner, a family, a job I'm passionate about and to move out of the city I live in, but I can't choose. I can't tell if I really like someone I'm dating, so the relationship stays as-is and never moves forward. I can't decide what I want to do professionally in my life, and I have a list of cities I would like to move to, but I don't choose one. Why? I don't feel my instincts. Nothing screams out to me yes, no, move with caution or most definitely. I've read several books, as I mentioned I try to meditate, I'm currently trying the 21-day cleanse—but nothing seems to work. I'm doing everything possible to bring clarity and create peace of mind. I'm at a standstill, and the most frustrating part is that I am most definitely ready and excited to experience change. I just can't create any. How can I trust my intuition when I don't feel it exists?
— Emily M., New York, New York
You're trying too damn hard. Intuition never responds to force. It can't be ordered up on the phone like pizza. It never strikes like thunder, which seems to be what you want: a decider who is never wrong. There is no decider except you. I suspect you created an imaginary friend that you named "Instinct," and as long as you could clutch your imaginary friend close to you, you felt safe.
Now you don't feel safe. That is really the issue, not the loss of intuition. The reason your imaginary friend went away is that you felt the need to grow up. Imaginary friends protect us as children. In your case, the defense wore out. You are tempted to immerse yourself in grief over your loss—not of the friend but of the childhood phase it represented. Adulthood clearly doesn't appeal to you. When you say "I can't" find a partner, move to a new city, etc., what you really mean is "I don't want to." Until you resolve this level of resistance in yourself, you won't accept growing up. The decisions you wish to make—or have made for you—are all adult decisions. I'm afraid there's no way around it. So look yourself in the eye and begin to explore why you are so afraid to let go of the past and accept the next stage of your personal growth.