Updated: Feb 29, 2020
Our intuition is an intrinsic part of being human. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is "the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning." For some, it comes as a still small voice. For others, a hunch or a gut feeling. And yet for others, it is a spontaneous revelation of something they otherwise would not have known.
No matter how they might actually manifest, we all receive intuitive insights and impressions. But during the busyness and stress of our often chaotic lives, how can we discern when it's our intuition that speaks to us or the feelings of anxiety?
To aid our understanding, let's look at the qualities of intuition compared with anxiety.
1. Intuitive impressions occur spontaneously and are fleeting as opposed to the linear thought processes produced by anxiety, which lingers.
One of the hallmarks of intuitive impressions is that they seem to come out of the blue as if they just "pop in" to your awareness. Unlike the linear thought processes that can be endlessly engaged during moments of anxiety, intuitive impressions are independent of your train of thought in the moment and manifest unexpectedly. Anxiety, on the other hand, keeps you wrapped up in the endless and exhausting cycles of "what if's."
2. Intuitive impressions are easy to rationalize away, where anxiety consumes your attention.
Because of the subtle and spontaneous nature of a gut feeling, it is easy to ignore it or dismiss it as irrelevant, allowing anxiety to overpower it. Just think about a time when you had a feeling or impression to do something but your logical mind talked you out of it, only to realize later that you should have listened to your feeling. Because of their subtle nature it is easy to overlook an intuitive impression as being unimportant, where in truth it is important and provides useful insight.
3. Intuitive impressions provide a clear knowing (even if you don't know exactly how you know it), where anxiety produces feelings of worry, restlessness, confusion, and fear.
Whether it is a feeling to do something or information about a person or situation, gut feelings provide specific intuitive insights. Although it may not answer the "why?" and "how?" you might have, intuitive insights provide meaningful information that you can choose to act on in the moment. Anxiety, on the other hand, in its feverish attempts to analyze can have you feeling unsure, worried, and stressed, leaving you to make decisions in a less than optimal state of mind.
4. Intuitive impressions are not susceptible to the changes of the worrying mind. Anxiety and its related feelings and stress are.
You can tune in to get an intuitive impression about any situation in your life at any time. If you are open to receiving the insights without being attached to what you might receive, or at the very least momentarily suspend your attachment, you will find that no matter how many times you tune it, you are likely to receive the same answer. Even if you have received an intuitive impression and try to rationalize it away, that intuition impression will likely stay the same despite your rationalizations.
5. Intuitive impressions may seem illogical on the surface, where anxiety follows a more logical thought process.
On the surface, that gut feeling might not make sense or it may seem contrary to what is actually happening, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. From my experience, I have learned that we get these impressions for a reason and it is important to listen.
6. Intuitive impressions are neutral, where anxiety has a high emotional charge.
When we receive intuitive impressions they are without emotional bias. Whatever emotional bias they may seem to have is the bias we charge to them. When we are anxious about a situation, our attachment to that situation creates highly charged emotions, be it anger, frustration, or fear, for example.
Consider an intuitive impression you received. Was it really accompanied by a highly charged emotion?
Trusting Your Intuition
From my personal experiences, I have learned (and am still learning)just how my intuitive impressions come to me which has helped me to become more sensitive to and mindful of them - and not to mention more trusting.
Do you know how your intuitive impressions come to you? And when they come, are you apt to trust and listen to them?
If you answered "no" to either of these questions, I challenge you to be more mindful of those fleeting hunches, gut feelings, or that still small voice that speaks to you. It might just change your life!
Get to Know Your Intuition Through Practice
When you are familiar with the ways in which intuitive information comes to you, you are more likely to pay attention and listen. Practice helps you not only to recognize a genuine gut feeling through your own personal experience, it also helps you develop trust in our intuition.
You can develop your intuition by being mindful of your own intuitive impressions and gut feelings and then seeing how accurate they are. You can also develop your intuition by practicing intuitive games with a partner or a group of like-minded people.
Tips & Tricks
To tap into your intuition, take a few deep, calming breathes to clear the mind and center oneself. Bring your query into your mind. Notice any physical sensations, especially in the heart center or the solar plexus (the gut) as well as any associated impressions that go along with it. Remember to be open to whatever impressions you might receive.