Gut instincts are important feelings that help people avoid potentially dangerous or troublesome situations. They help keep you safe in dark alleys or guide to you towards wonderous opportunities. Yet it can be frustrating to tell the difference between intuition and anxiety. People with a history of mental health issues can often find the line to be blurry or even have symptoms that feel the same. If this resonates with you, consider working with a therapist to better cope with anxiety so it doesn’t hinder your intuition, and pay attention to the following signs to better honor your gut instincts.
- Never-ending anxiety
How long have you been feeling anxious? Gut instinct will be reactions to an immediate situation, whereas anxiety can feel omnipresence. Consider the example of parking garage. If you feel an immediate need to run to your car, you gut might be tell you there is danger nearby, but it you feel that crushing sensation all-day, it’s probably anxiety.
- Always feeling worried about the future
Anxiety manifest as an unhealthy concern for your future. If you are always living considering the worst-case outcome, you are facing anxiety instead of intuition. Anxiety will keep you up at night and prevent you from tackling your actions steps towards success. Intuition helps you hone in on the things you can change to improve your situation rather than never-ended worry.
- Gut instincts feel tangible
Your intuition is your internal compass and wisdom. It gives you confidence to take a decisive action rather than anxiety which us constantly has us weighing the pros and cons. If you feel like you are incapable of taking action, it’s probably anxiety.
- Intuition benefits our daily life
Anxiety impedes our ability to live our best life. Notice if you have been avoiding certain situations or feel like you can’t function optimally. While a gut instinct might steer you away from harm, anxiety stops you from really living. Often, anxiety leaves you so in knots you begin to fail to realize what you really are worrying about in the quest to bubble yourself off from any potential harm.
- Anxiety can create health issues
Take a step back and review the definition of anxiety to understand what is causing your lingering stress. General anxiety, according to the DSM-V involves the following: excessive worry, difficult managing the worry, and physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigues, troubling concentrating, irritability, tension, and insomnia. Work with a therapist to manage your anxiety and feel more in control of your body. As your anxiety abates, you can better tune into your intuition.
- Intuition is testable
If you want to identify if your feelings are instinct or anxiety, look to your environment and gather evidence. If you are worried about the impacts of a storm, you can look outside to wind damage or go to your basement to assess flooding. If you are feeling a certain way, but can’t gather tangible proof either in favor or against, you are dealing with anxiety.
- There is no pattern to anxiety
Gut instincts reflect how we are feeling in the moment based on millennia of survival strategies. Consider how you might work about walking barefoot on a wooded deck after decades of dealing with removing splinters from the soles of your feet. In comparison, anxiety would have us believe that believe its not safe to walk anywhere for fear of potential injury.
- Gut instinct work to ground us
When we listen to our intuition, we are able to slow our thinking down in order to find the best direction forward. We find a moment of calm in a storm by focusing on solving a specific issue. This contrasts to anxiety which produces chaotic and frantic thinking.
- Intuition help direct us to solutions
Gut instincts arise to show us a way forward through a problem. In a dark alley, you have a choice on what direction to go, or when to check your basement for potential flooding. After picking a direction, you have the choice over what potential action step you want to take. If you see flooding, you have the choice on how best to remove the water before your basement sustains lasting damage. Yet, if you find yourself roused from sleep each night at 2AM thinking about issues at work without any ability to fall back asleep you might need to talk to a professional about your anxiety.
You have the power to ease your anxiety by making beneficial lifestyle improvements. You may consider medication in addition to meditation or working with medical professionals. By healing your anxiety, you can listen to your intuition more easily, as well as improving your ability to distinguish between the two sensations.