You’ve probably heard the phrase “follow your intuition” at least once before, it’s assumed that most people know what following their intuition looks like. When in reality, most people have a difficult time pinpointing their intuition and following it faithfully.
How do you know you’re following your intuition and not your anxiety? What is the difference between random thoughts and intuitive guidance? How do you figure out what your intuition is really trying to tell you? How do you actually follow your intuition?
In this post I’m going to tackle the differences between our intuition and anxiety. These are two very different messaging systems that can often conflict.
It makes sense that when making any decision we will have both coming through, so learning how differentiate between them is important.
What Is Intuition?
So what exactly is intuition? Intuition (from my perspective) is our higher guidance made up of our higher self, guides and the Universe itself. When we incarnated onto this physical Earth it could be said that we had a plan in mind.
This includes the energy we wish to bring to this Earth with our work, the message we wish to spread with our actions, and the people we want to cross paths with. When we follow our intuition our life becomes a conscious co-creation between our higher selves and the Universe.
Intuition is our inner guidance or higher self speaking to us. When we tune into our intuition it has a distinct voice that is different from our regular thoughts. Intuition can feel like a caring teacher or caregiver.
Permeating existence is a non-physical field of information known as the Akashic Records which is a record of every thought, feeling and action. It is from this field of information that our intuition can pull in guidance, show us different paths and alert us to danger.
Each person has a field of energy that extends about a foot and a half beyond their physical body, this is known as an aura. This field of energy contains all sorts of information about someone’s mood, intentions, wounds and strengths.
The aura is what we sense when we feel someone’s energy or “vibe”. When we tune into our intuition it can pick up on this information and relay it back to us accurately. This is how we receive intuitive guidance on the people we should avoid or meet.
We all receive these different types of intuitive guidance however some are more tuned into it than others – just like a radio station you have to be on the right frequency. The more we practice listening to and following our intuition the easier it is to tune in.
If we look at thinking as a largely unconscious compulsion that draws upon what we already know, then we can see that intuition is a very different beast. Intuition allows us to gain access to information about people and places that our physical senses wouldn’t otherwise pick up.
Anxiety vs Intuition
Now that we know what intuition is, how can we start to tune into it and differentiate it from anxiety and conflicting emotions/thoughts?
I used to think that following my intuition meant only doing what felt “good” in the moment, in reality following my intuition has been one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done. Yet I’ve grown from it.
Anxiety keeps you in the same patterns…ones that are no longer serving you. Even though our anxiety can keep us safe a lot of the time, it can also lull us into a false sense of comfort. Our life becomes stagnant and we feel this even if we don’t know what to do about it.
Following our intuition isn’t about comfort, it’s about being guided to do the things and meet the people that will give us the most growth, expansion and healing. When we follow our intuition we may do things which make us feel uncomfortable in the short-term but ultimately bring us the most progress.
As I’ve said before, anxiety keeps our lives stagnant. We keep repeating the same cycles over and over until we finally snap and do something about it.
On the other hand your intuition is not a voice of fear it’s a voice of reason. It says, “You’ve already been here and know what happens, you don’t have to repeat this lesson again”.
How To Hear Your Intuition
We can still very much hear our intuition underneath our anxiety, it just takes practice to see underneath it all, yet the more we follow our intuition the louder is becomes.
- Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed for ten minutes
- Get into a comfortable meditative position
- Take a moment to close your eye and take a few deep breaths from your stomach
- Ask a question in your mind
- Carefully observe how your body and mind responds
- Breath for a few more minutes (until your mind is calm)
- Ask the question again
- Observe your initial responses and thoughts again
When we ask questions like this the first responses we receive of anxiety, fear or doubt isn’t usually our intuition. These initial responses are how we programmed to react through what we have learned.
Sitting with your question until the response shifts to one of peace, calm and knowing is how you identify your intuition. You will feel it buried underneath all of these programmed responses.
The more you practice asking yourself questions in this manner the quicker you will hear your intuition surface. When we receive intuitive guidance it will feel as if it comes from a place outside of ourselves.
We can hear our intuition as thought but you will notice it has a different tone to regular mind chatter. When I hear my intuition it’s a very assuring, quiet but strong voice that is easily distinguishable from my regular thoughts.
Practising meditation will allow you to bring awareness to your thoughts and see this distinction clearly. Sit with your thoughts for ten minutes a day and just observe how they flow, you will start to notice what are unconscious thoughts and what is inner guidance.
Intuition & Shadow Work
Hearing our intuition is so difficult because it comes through quietly – whereas the world around us is filled with loudness and shiny new things that pull our attention elsewhere. Not being able to hear our intuition is essentially not being able to hear ourselves, over all of this noise.
Intuition is also blocked because we have internalized other people’s ideas, words and value systems over the course of our lives, and so turning inward for direction seems rebellious in a way.
This is where shadow work is so important in learning to hear our intuition clearly. The shadow being the hidden aspect of ourselves, of our personalities.
The shadow contains both the negative aspects that we push down to maintain a good image or be a good person, and our deeper desires and qualities that we haven’t fulled appreciated. When we are aware of these parts of ourselves, it’s a lot easier to hear ourselves and as an extension of that, our intuition.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What qualities do I not appreciate in myself, and how would I like to express those?
- Where have I internalized other people’s doubts or fears?
- How would I live if other people’s judgement wasn’t a factor?
Intuition is a hidden layer of information under the surface, much like the shadow is a hidden aspect of ourselves under the surface. Getting to know one is like getting to know the other.
Go deeper with my shadow work guide that comes with 52 printable journal prompts.
How To Follow Your Intuition
I remember the first time I heard my intuition loud and clear. I was walking home and took my usual route, I was about to head across a bridge which acted as a shortcut when I heard “turn back” in my mind.
As I had taken this shortcut for over a year without a problem I ignored this clear message. Eventually I reached the bridge and saw that it was completely blocked off, I had to turn back and take the longer route, adding twenty minutes to my journey. Needless to say I started following my intuition from that day!
Once you have received intuitive guidance it’s important to follow it faithfully. The more we follow our intuition (despite what the mind says) the stronger it becomes. The voice of intuition is initially a subtle one, but over time it becomes clearer.
When you do go against your intuition and realize in hindsight that you made a mistake this is a perfect learning opportunity. Instead of beating yourself up for making a mistake simply take the time to quiet your mind and thank your higher self for the guidance.
By showing gratitude for the intuitive guidance we receive even when we didn’t follow it, we are welcoming more. Following your intuition is by no means an easy process but it’s incredibly freeing and opens your life up to greater expansion and clarity.