How To Differentiate Your Intuition From Anxiety?
If you are someone who has an anxious attachment style and get very anxious in different scenarios (and especially if you are an Empath or highly sensitive), it can be difficult to listen to your intuition, or even to differentiate between both.
How do you know you are feeling very anxious because it is an extreme reaction to something you intuitively know is bad for you, or is it just your fear and your behavioral patterns at play?
It can indeed be very frustrating when someone tells you “You just have to trust your gut.”, and you don’t know exactly what your gut is telling you.
Research has found that people who are anxious have a significantly reduced ability to listen to their intuition. So, when anxious, there is no such thing as “trusting your gut.”
If you feel like this, know that there are ways to differentiate between your anxiety and your intuition.
First, let’s see what is Anxiety and what is Intuition:
Anxiety is an reaction to a perceived threat to your well-being. It is a way that your ego uses to protect yourself as a matter of survival in the face of danger.
That can be a good thing (like preventing us from jumping off a cliff), or it can be triggered by our irracional fears or past traumas.
If you believe in the Law of Attraction, you know that we all have a powerful capacity to manifest anything we focus on, so if we believe in our fears, they become reality. So we believe the thing we were anxious about is the truth.
For example, this can happen in a relationship. If your partner takes more than usual to respondeu to your phone call, you start to get anxious and think they are going to leave you, and feel affraid they do to the point you believe that is the truth.
The bottom line is: if you feel very anxious it’s because you feel threatened by something, rational or irracional.
Anxiety makes you have physical symptoms like your heart racing, an adrenaline rush, sweating, stomach pains, panic, and difficultly breathing just to name a few. If going to an extreme it can turn into a panic attack.
You basically enter into a fight or flight mode. That’s why many people with an anxious attachment style either act out or withdraw in these situations of extreme anxiety.
Anxiety comes from outside of you, is triggered by an external situation.
Intuition, on the other hand, is the feeling of knowing without any emotion associated to it.
It comes to you out of nowhere, not from a perceived threat or a fear.
You usually feel very calm and peaceful when you have a gut feeling about something or someone. You “just know”.
There is no anxiety or fear associated to it. Intuition is clear and reasonable, and it just makes sense. It leaves you with a pleasant feeling of just knowing. You feel safe and supported.
Intuition comes from the inside of you, from your inner wisdom and connection with all there is.
How to differentiate between the two
One way to differentiate between anxiety and intuition is to stop and question yourself: “where is this coming from”?
Be really honest with yourself about it. Are you scared someone will do the same to you that others did in the past? Is it fears of abandonment coming up?
The key thing is when is your intuition speaking, you rarely need to question things.
Check Your Physical Symptoms
You can compare intuition with speaking calmly with a friend, whilst anxiety is a full blow-out argument, in terms of how it makes you feel.
As said before, anxiety comes with a set of negative reactions such as an adrenaline rush, dificulty breathing, etc.
So if you are having negative physical symptoms you are experiencing anxiety and not intuition.
Intuition leaves you feeling calm and relaxed.
Check How You React
When you have a gut feeling, you are calm and can deal with things objectively, having the strenght and mental awareness to do so.
When you are feeling anxious, your mind is racing, you can’t think straight so your reactions will be negative such as acting out or withdrawing (or both), as we mentioned before.
Anxiety is More Intense
Overall, anxiety is much more intense than intuition due to all the negative reactions associated to it.
Anxiety makes a lot of noise, that’s why you can’t hear yourself properly when that happens. You just feel overwhelmed.
What it really comes down to, when trying to figure out if you’re experiencing anxiety or intuition, is how your body and mind are reacting.
Being able to check this is part of understanding yourself and your fears.
Can Intuition and Anxiety Work Together?
Yes, absolutely. This usually happens when anxiety is an extreme reaction to something we already knew before through our intuition and ignored it.
For example, let’s say you start dating someone and you feel something is off about them, even if you can’t pin point exactly what it is. But you decide to ignore it and give them a chance.
The “gut feeling” you are having at this point is something calm, tranquil, free of negative reactions.
Maybe later you start seeing some red flags and again your intuition speaks to you, but you also decide to ignore.
Later in this relationship when you are emotionally invested and the red flags become bigger, your anxiety is triggered. So this can be an extreme reaction to something your intuition already told you before.
The trick is to know ourselves and do our inner work so we avoid early on (when we are not emotionally invested) situations that are bad for us later.
The more we know who we are and want we want, the more we listen to our intuition in the early stages.
So is key to be doing your inner work and learning to feel safe in the world, moving towards a secure feeling that brings you peace of mind.