With so much fear and uncertainty being circulated in the world, it can feel nearly impossible to be able to trust your own judgment or make sound decisions right now. Anyone who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis knows that this is difficult to do anyway, let alone when a global pandemic strikes. This is a period when we are perhaps getting triggered more than we have in a long time, and it isn’t difficult to see why. With more uncertainty and lack of information comes more storytelling, because our mind simply wants an answer or a resolution to the issue at hand. (It’s what the mind has been trained to do.) So we tell ourselves stories in an effort to regain control of our lives, albeit a false sense. And we tell more stories. We create so many stories and get so worked up about this “reality” we have constructed, that once we are so panicked and distraught, we assume that it has to be our intuition sending us these messages, or else why would we feel so much intense emotion, right? Wrong.
“Never apologize for trusting your intuition - your brain can play tricks, your heart can blind, but your gut is always right.” ~ Anonymous
One of the biggest struggles I have had in my anxiety journey is the feeling of not being able to trust myself, of not being able to tell for certain whether the “voice” in my head is actually my intuition or just a play on intense thoughts and even stronger emotions. I’ve had to ask myself countless (I mean countless) times about whether something was merely a story or if it was actually based on my instinctive gut feeling. That feeling of not being able to trust the self is one of the most immobilizing states to be in; it can absolutely cripple you and keep you from moving forward, having conversations, or taking any action whatsoever.
So what is intuition exactly? The Oxford Dictionary defines intuition as “a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning”. I believe intuition to be that “gut feeling”, the inner knowing that doesn’t come from the brain or from logic. Intuition can also be described as the voice of your highest self, your soul, God speaking to you, or the flow of universal energy that is experienced when you are in an aligned, harmonious state. Your intuition is your ultimate roadmap, one that will never lead you astray or down the wrong path, but it takes practice to be able to hear it, especially when the mind is riddled with anxiety and turmoil. So how can you start to tell the difference between anxiety and intuition? Let’s explore.
1. Intuition is calm, steady, and quiet, whereas anxiety is persistent and panic-driven. Anxious thoughts will repeat over and over, and they seem to get louder as time wears on. You may feel an immediate need to take action, most likely out of fear that the only opportunity you will have to do so is in this very minute. An anxious thought will not let up and can eventually take over your entire psyche, affecting every part of your mental and emotional world. An intuitive thought, however, is not nearly as demanding; it can be compared to a gentle whisper or a subtle nudge, and it will never induce feelings of fear or panic. Intuitive messages will ignite a sense of calm, deep understanding, and a general sense of well-being within you, something that anxious ones are never, ever are able to do. Because loud, anxious thoughts can be so much easier to hear than intuitive ones, they are often the first ones we pay attention to or act on.
2. Anxiety is triggered by an external event or stimulus, while intuitive messages can seemingly come out of nowhere. This is one of the biggest tell-tale methods that I use when deciphering my own anxious thoughts from my intuition. Is there a situation at hand that you are desperately grasping at or trying to find the answer to? Then the voice you are hearing is probably not your intuition. Intuition never has to be forced and it doesn’t come at a time when are you scrambling to find a resolution or an answer. It will come, however, when the mind is quiet and the body is calm, which means you might experience its wisdom at a time when you least expect it.
3. Your intuition will help you discover and better understand things about yourself, but anxiety aims to decode what others are thinking and feeling. Again, we come back to the mind’s ability to tell the craziest stories that are not only about us, but about others. Think about this: you have probably spent most of your life trying to make sense of what is going on in your own head and in your own life, maybe to little or no avail at times. If we can’t make sense of ourselves, what makes us think that we can make sense of someone else? Our egos and our anxieties want so badly to make sense of the world around us that they will stop at nothing to project our stories onto other people. If your messages are merely perpetuating the story-telling cycle, this is not your intuition speaking. Your intuition will instead guide you toward a deep inner knowing about yourself and what is best for YOU.
So how do we put these principles into practice? We pause. We take a breath. We allow space for silence and stillness and let our bodies come back to their natural rhythm. Your body knows how to tell the difference between your intuition and anxiety, so ask it for a sign. I work with a lot of clients on muscle testing as a way to strengthen their intuitive response, and one of my favorites is the Sway Test. We will naturally lean in towards that which is best for our highest self, so notice the state of your body when you ask it a question. Do you lean in, or do you fall back? Our subconscious brain fires milliseconds before our conscious brain even knows what is going on, so tuning into our our bodies is a great way to bridge this gap until we can trust our inner voice without fail.
“Intuition is knowing without knowing.” ~ Anonymous
On a final note, we might feel like a failure because we have come so far, only to feel like we are right back to where we started on our mental health journey. Don’t beat yourself up. This is normal. Remember: You are NOT your thoughts. You are NOT your emotions. You are NOT your anxieties. And above all, remember that healing is not linear. We rise and fall and rise and fall over and over again, because that is the human experience. Be gentle and kind to yourself during the process, and trust that you are being Divinely guided through all of the ups and downs. You are.
Sending so much love,