Nan O'Brien didn't always embrace her intuitive gift, but now she uses it to help families to find closure with deceased loved ones, to help police departments find missing persons, and to help millions of people get in touch with what they really know about themselves, their desires, and their lives. Millions of people tune into her nationally syndicated radio show, read her books and go to see her at events, as well as hire her for private sessions. Here's why:
Jennifer Haupt: How do you define intuition?
Nan O'Brien: Intuition is a catch-all phrase for the voice deep within us that resonates when it hears truth. It is the sense we have of "knowing" in the absence of intellectual or tangible proof to support what we feel we know. It also is the vehicle of connectivity with others that is beyond the physicality of the world. Have you ever been thinking of someone you haven't heard from in a while, only to have that person call you on the phone a few moments later? Intuition is the mechanism that will have created that ability to have connected; there is no such thing as coincidence.
JH: When people ask you questions on your radio show, are you using purely your psychic powers to find the answer, or also intuition?
NO: I do not consider myself to possess "psychic powers," because I am not a "psychic." I do not make predictions, as I believe that we all have free will and free choice to make decisions for ourselves in this physical world. Therefore, predictions-more often than not - do not come true. For example, if a psychic predicts you will meet a man from Florida in six months, but in six months that man does not leave his home in Florida to move to where you are living, you will not meet him. If you have a soul contract with that man that is not realized, other spiritual laws will come into play, but no external power overrides our ability to choose for ourselves.
Now that I've said what I'm not, I'll explain what I am -- an Intuitive Counselor. In answer to your question specifically, yes, I do use my intuition to respond to my callers or clients to counsel people, the same way that other professional counselors use psychology or therapeutic tools. In my belief system, the intuition, or "knowingness," comes from a Higher Power (I call it "God" but the name is unimportant), and the information comes through me, not from me. I am not allowed to censor, interpret, or "cherry pick" what I get. My function is only to act as the conduit, to pass along the information exactly as it is given to me.
My understanding is that we all have purpose in this existence, or a "life lesson plan," but we don't always remember why we came or what we wanted to learn. The life lesson plan juxtapositions against those people, circumstances, and/or situations that have come into a person's life, facilitating the learning and growth that person set out to accomplish.
It can be very powerful for a person to shift his or her thinking from "why me?" (not poor me) to "why did I attract this into my life? What do I need to learn? How can I grow from this situation?" It empowers a person to see his or her world through a prism of understanding purpose, and it can explain what has happened up till that point in a person's life, too, which can free one from feeling unlucky, or powerless in this world to do anything but react. It is spiritual law that once you learn a lesson it's yours-just as in school, once you take a test and pass, you do not have to take the test again-so it is also incredibly uplifting and empowering to know that what is behind you does not have to dictate what is in front of you, IF you learn the lesson.
Let's go back to the woman in the "Florida man" scenario. If the caller or client asked me whether they would be in a relationship in the future, I would start by looking at the reasons that person had not been in a healthy relationship up until that point. Did she have balance issues in life, i.e., gravitating toward emotionally unavailable men because she was more comfortable giving than receiving? Did she have trust or boundaries issues as a life lesson, which caused her to attract men in her life she needed to say no to? Being in a healthy relationship with self is a prerequisite to having a healthy relationship with someone else, but if we do not understand the why of how things have unfolded, we cannot change our choices.
JH: Do you find that people are afraid of intuition? Is so, why?
NO: Afraid of intuition? Not necessarily. Afraid of my being intuitive? Sometimes. Especially men, who mistakenly think I can read their minds! Kidding aside, I don't know that people are afraid of their intuition so much as they are afraid to trust it. We all have intuition to some degree -- it's like singing, we can all do it, but some should only sing in the shower! - but when we trust and act on our intuition and the outcome confirms its existence, it can be overwhelming and almost scary or "weird" for someone who is inclined to function in the "real" world.
The validation of trusting the intuition creates a clash between logic and experience. The logic says "rely on the five senses," while the experience says, "explain what just happened any other way than intuition." Over time, continually trusting our intuition lessens our conflict and moves us to "acceptance," which, by nature, is not fear-based, but faith-based.
JH: Was there ever a time when you didn't trust your own intuition? How have you learned to trust it more over the years?
NO: Absolutely! More times than I can count or care to remember, especially in my younger years. (smile) But, it soon became apparent that when I trusted my intuition, the outcomes were positive and when I didn't, the outcomes were "less positive" - they were the decisions I tended to regret. Like Pavlov, the successful use of the intuition conditioned me to be willing to trust it more, until I got to the point where I trusted my intuition implicitly.
Honestly, I could not do my radio, live event, or private sessions if I did not fully trust the process of intuitively "plugging in," allowing information to come through me, not from me. The trust in the intuition removes the ego from the process of Intuitive Counseling, and that is critical to its integrity, to the power of its truth. It's not about my being right or wrong in my responses, only that I give it to others as the information is given to me.
JH: Can you teach people how to tap into their intuition?
NO: Short answer: Yes. Long answer: While the experience of using one's intuition is a personal journey, there are exercises that can foster the ease with which you access it. Like any "exercise program," you get stronger through the repetition and consistent application of the exercises. By embracing the daily opportunities to practice using your intuition, you strengthen your willingness to then rely and act on it, perpetuating the four steps of faithful living: Acknowledgment, Trust, Reliance, Action.
The opportunities can be simple and a part of your life now, they don't have to be additions to your daily schedule. For example, if you work in a building with an elevator bank, stand in front of the elevator you intuitively feel is going to open (without cheating by listening or watching to see which direction an elevator is going). You will be amazed how often you are right - and that simple, daily affirmation feeds your willingness and ability to connect with your intuition in other ways - to call a friend who has been on your mind that, as it turns out, needed to hear from you; to drive a different route and find yourself helping a stranded elderly person on the side of a road you would not normally have traveled. It's not necessary to go climb a mountain to find yourself and your power.
JH: What does intuition have to do with faith?
NO: I think that depends on the individual person. For me, I believe my faith is at the heart of my intuition, as I believe the intuitive gifts I have are from God, and that there is a Biblical basis for those gifts. I love the saying, "What talents and abilities you have are God's gifts to you; what you do with them is your gift to God." My faith feeds my intuition, for it is the presence of belief in the absence of proof that is faith, by definition.
However, there are many people whose "belief" is not to believe, and I respect that choice, even if I don't necessarily understand it personally, given my life experiences. I would never judge someone else's right to make that decision for himself or herself, it would be wrong action for me to do so. People who do not believe in a Higher Power are also intuitive, so in the final analysis I don't think there has to be a connection between intuition and faith. Perhaps it is only that faith is often the vehicle to embrace one's intuition; and there are many vehicles to get to a destination, some easier than others.
JH: What's one "true thing" that guides your life?
NO: Wow! Only one? If I had to choose one, it would be "truth" because truth is the wellspring from which all else flows: Integrity (being truthful); purpose (seeking the truth); love (trusting the truth); belief (knowing the truth); intuition (hearing the truth). Even if I lived without integrity or purpose or love or belief or intuition, still there would be truth in my heart, because truth is not found in what we do, but it is who we are. Thus, we cannot separate ourselves from ourselves anymore than we can be blind to our reflection when gazing in a mirror; and that constant certainty of truth in my heart is what guides me each day.