Albert Einstein once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that values the servant and has forgotten the gift.” When we have an important decision to make or something difficult to do, sometimes it is normal to feel fear. But fear or anxiety can sometimes take over intuition and trick us. So in order to overcome this issue let us learn how to tell the difference between gut feeling and anxiety.
Let us better understand intuition and anxiety or fear in order to better understand the difference between gut feeling and anxiety
Intuition is said to be the highest form of intelligence. Intuition is the thinking ability to accumulate knowledge based on experience and previously acquired knowledge. Although difficult to define, it plays a huge role in our daily lives. Steve Jobs said intuition is “more powerful than intellect”.
Fear is a survival mechanism that appears in response to a concrete, usually negative, threat. Fear is related to anxiety. This depends on the person and can range from caution to phobia and paranoia. It refers to several states, including worry, anxiety, terror, paranoia, horror, and panic.
Anxiety is this fear of things that could happen in the future. Most of the time, anxiety is a learned behavior. We’ve learned to do that, and it’s like a silly belief that our brains believe that if we worry enough about this stuff in the future, we’ll be safe, it’ll keep us safe. And it’s a hoax. It does not keep us safe, and they have almost nothing to do with each other.
Almost everyone has experienced that strange feeling at least once in their life – that unconscious reasoning that propels us to do something without telling us why or how. But the nature of intuition has long eluded us and inspired centuries’ worth of inquiry and research in the fields of philosophy and psychology.
Cognitive science is beginning to demystify the power of the inexplicable presence of unconscious reasoning in our lives and thinking. Often dismissed as insignificant because of its connections to the psyche and the paranormal, intuition isn’t just a bunch of “ha-ha-ha” about “our senses”. It can be so powerful that in the military many of the snap decisions to go into combat or not were based on intuition, thus saving many lives.
Strong emotions – especially negative ones – can disconnect us from our intuition
Society is strongly driven by fear. Fear of not being educated enough. Or of not having enough money. Fear of not looking good enough. Or fear of terrorist attacks. Fear of differences, etc. There is so much fear-based content in our world today. This can make us carry these thoughts around without even realizing it.
When you are very depressed or feeling anxious, you may find that your intuition may fail you. When you are angry or in an intense emotional state, your intuition can fail completely. That’s not to say that intuitive people never get upset. Your intuition will be better if you’re able to mindfully accept and let go of negative emotions for the most part instead of suppressing or denying them.
When you start to become aware you can start to change your way of thinking in a more positive and confident way. This allows you to really tap into your intuition and trust the messages you receive.
What’s the difference between intuition and anxiety? Well, there are some points which can clear that up for us.
So here it is: how to tell the difference between gut feeling or intuition and anxiety or fear
Indeed it can be hard to tell the difference between these two feelings. This can be harder, especially when you are in a hurry or in a complex position or situation.
So the first difference between anxiety and gut feeling is:
If my heart tells you “don’t do this”, that’s important information, it’s relevant. If anxiety, the mind through this mechanism of anxiety is telling you “don’t do this because look what might happen”, you might want to ignore it. It might help you to realize that this time you are just anxious or fearful and that doesn’t help you.
Intuition speaks to us in small bursts, in small pieces of information. Very short: “You need to do this!” or “This thing is not for you!” or “Get dressed and out the door now!” or “Get on the phone and call her!” OK? A burst of information. That’s intuition.
The voice of anxiety always speaks much longer. He’s like a bad salesman. That’s the best metaphor I’ve found. It’s like a dumb salesman who talks and talks and talks and thinks that if he spams you with words and explanations and benefits, you’re more likely to buy because he’s basically trying to convince you of something. Anxiety works like this. The voice of anxiety is always trying to convince you, to convince us of something. He gives us arguments, it’s making a case. Try to win this case.
Regarding intuition, it’s like intuition has no hidden agenda. “Well, I told you, get dressed and out the door. Do it? Good! Don’t do it? And you are also fine. It’s not like I’m trying to convince you of something and I have something to gain from it.” There is no agenda there, it does not have its own agenda. Anxiety on the other part has.
So we can see that our intuition has no hidden agenda while anxiety does.
Another difference that can help you differentiate between the two feelings is:
Another difference is that anxiety always comes with analysis. With rational analysis. “Well, let’s see! Three points…, seven points… If he had done this then this would have meant that, and if he had meant that, he probably would have done the other”. That’s the problem with anxiety, it seems rational. It seems like we’re in the middle of a rational process trying to figure out what’s best for us when really it’s just anxiety trying to convince us of something.
The intuition part does not come with analysis. It comes with a sense of knowing. It’s like you just know. “Well, I know! At that moment I knew I needed to leave. At that moment I knew how to put my hand on the phone. Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me how, maybe I have no argument, I can’t tell you why I feel like doing this. I felt like doing this!”. And it’s more than “I felt like doing this”. It’s “I knew at that moment that this was the decision”. That means a sense of knowing.
Then, after knowing this, you simply feel that it’s the right way.
In the case of anxiety, when the voice is from anxiety after you arrive at an answer through analysis, anxiety comes and says, “Yes! But why? And what if? Well, what if X happens? Well, what if Y doesn’t happen?”
So another difference between gut feeling or intuition and anxiety is that anxiety comes with analysis while intuition doesn’t.
Another annoying thing is that:
I think, is that the anxiety zone generates scenarios and ramifications. We go on ramifications and we go on scenarios. The problem with these ramifications is that if you do them right, they never end. You cannot exhaust all ramifications. There’s always the “Yes, but what if? Ok, we go here, we solve this, we go here and there”. But after that, if the third, seventh, two hundredth problem appears?
This drags us into some processes that seem to never end. We always find something else to be anxious about. If we just search enough, and if our minds are used to searching, then every moment of stillness, every space we catch can be used to generate some more ramifications and ask some more “whys” and ask some more “what ifs”, which makes anxiety a voice we hear louder and more frequently than other voices.
If it’s short if it doesn’t have an agenda if it comes with this meaning of knowing, then it’s most likely intuition.
Intuition always speaks very clearly. It’s not messy, it’s super clear. It’s just that he usually speaks in a low voice, he speaks more slowly, and he’s soft-spoken. And because it speaks slowly, it is easy to miss it, and it is easy not to hear it, especially if the other side, the mind, is speaking. If we have mental chatter, if the mind talks, because it talks louder and longer and spams us with spam of thoughts, it’s very easy to hear a quiet voice saying “you should do it!” or “this is the right answer”, so let it come from intuition and not hear it, not catch it, not give enough importance to it and go on with our rational and anxiety-related analysis.
So what solutions there are in order to overcome this issue?
Here is a helpful exercise in order to tell the difference between gut feeling and anxiety that can help you
In order to learn to tell the difference between gut feeling and anxiety you can start by paying attention to the signals sent by your body. Take some time, alone, sitting in a comfortable position. Let your mind quiet down, be present in your body and see how you feel in response to a question. “How does this problem make me feel – expansive or fearful?” What do you feel: relief, joy, excitement? Or on the contrary: a heaviness, a tightness in the chest, or a stomach ache?
Don’t pay attention to what your mind says, but to your body’s reactions. When you pay close attention and listen to your nonverbal cues, you will notice an increase in energy moving in one direction or the other. Obviously, if you feel something close to expansive, joyous, or excited, that’s what your intuition means to go ahead and say yes. The contraction you feel in your abdomen, or any feeling of dread, means that it is a sign of fear, not to go further.
Or try using meditation
Meditation is one good solution because in meditation what do we do? We sit still, possibly with our eyes closed so that we don’t have external stimulation, possibly quietly so that we don’t have a lot of external stimulation, and we give ourselves time to notice our thoughts. And thoughts come. And we label them and send them on. We tell ourselves that now is not the time to go down that line. We sit and focus on breathing for a while. And another thought comes and we label it and let it pass on.
After we do this for a while, and after we slowly get better at doing this, at some point, after five minutes or ten or twenty minutes, those thoughts start to stop coming or to be less. So we begin to have, for the first time, some spaces where the chatter stops mentally, this constant voice, this internal dialogue.
And in those moments and right after, we can also hear the quieter voices that we usually don’t hear. If we do this enough times, at some point we will notice that in our daily life when we are not in a meditative process, we begin to have periods of time where the mind no longer flies as it pleases, it no longer spams us so strongly and for the first time, we can hear the voice of intuition again.
The more we trust the voice of intuition, identify it correctly and follow what it tells us and see that good is happening for us and that it was right, the more we can trust it the next time we hear it, to recognize it more easily as a familiar voice, this time. And in this way, we can come to use intuition as a tool. As something that helps us in our decision processes.