Your Intuition Is Not Your Anxiety
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
The number one question I get asked about intuition is:
How can I tell if it’s my intuition or my anxiety?
Intuition is an inner, sure knowing.
It is a clear, simple, message. It is an instinct toward or away.
It is confident — it doesn’t have to convince you, and often it won’t give you whys or hows.
Your intuition will always tell you what.
Intuition doesn’t have baggage, or self-consciousness attached to it.
Intuition doesn’t question if it’s making the wrong choice, or if it’s going to offend someone.
Intuition just is.
...And also, sometimes, your anxiety is also your intuition — sometimes, it is not.
Intuition vs. Anxiety
When the messages are fearful, hateful, doubting, controlling, or limiting: that’s anxiety. That’s your fear, your ego, or some programming someone gave you a long time ago that you’ve internalized.
Your anxiety is also *just* anxiety when it is linked to a set of negative beliefs or thoughts that often run in the background of your mind. Your anxiety—or your ego—is a defense and protection mechanism that is just doing the best it can, but isn’t exactly helping you live your best life.
When there is urgency, when you should or you never or this always enters the chat of your mind, that’s anxiety/ego showing up.
That urgency or fear could also be a trauma response.
Most likely, you’ll know it as such because you get triggered, dysregulated, and taken out of your frontal cortex and into your amygdala: ye olde—very olde!—lizard brain. When reactions to everyday things are outsized, that’s when you know it’s a trauma response.
When you’re feeling anxious, take deep breaths, a time out, a nap — give yourself compassion, use nervous system regulating techniques, and witness yourself with love.
Your intuition would never think cruel or limiting thoughts about you.
It might say, hmmm…I feel funny about this subway platform, lets scoot, or, maybe we should ask a friend to read our resume and cover letter before applying to this job. But, it will never judge or shame you.
Your intuition and your anxiety both want what’s best for you.
However: your anxiety is based on past worries.
Your intuition is based on infinite possibilities.
Our anxiety/ego/biology/conditioning/trauma equates "change" with "bad".
That's why, sometimes, our anxiety is a reaction to an intuitive message.
Usually, you can more easily connect with your anxiety, because it’s louder and because you’ve practiced listening to it more. So that’s what we end up interpreting: the reaction to our intuition, not our intuition itself.
Our intuition wants us to share our authentic, unique gifts. But, our anxiety worries that who we really are could upset our family, make us unsafe, or could allow us to share a brilliance we possess that is wildly uncomfortable and precious.
The lines between intuition and anxiety begin to get blurred.
When can anxiety also be intuitive?
When it’s keeping us safe from external danger.
(Not perceived danger, or hypervigilance.)
When it’s an intuitive message that’s been ignored for way too long.
(Leaving your underpaid job, or detaching from imbalanced dynamics.)
When it’s trying to get our attention about a deeper wound or pattern to repair.
Over time, with consistent practice, we can figure out what is our intuition, what is sensitivity, what are trauma responses, and what is anxiety. We can learn exactly how *our* intuition comes through, and practices that strengthen it. In tandem, we practice ways to resource ourselves so that we might trust our intuition.
When we do that, not only are we able to take leaps and make progress toward our true path, gifts, and self-actualization, we can also heal the shadows, wounds, and abandoned inner child that the anxiety stems from. It’s a win-win.