From my teen years on, from the first day I learned that intuition was a thing that might exist, I believed fully in it. I have no doubt that we can sense things that aren’t visible, that our gut can guide us, that we can just have a feeling. The problem was, I didn’t know how to identify it. I’ve been transcribing my old diaries and came across this sentence:
I just keep telling myself I just have to be myself and follow my intuition, but I confuse myself too much.me, age 20
This pretty much captures my experience with intuition. Is what I am feeling actually intuition? Or am I just worrying? Or hoping? Is this in my head or in my heart? Am I manufacturing all of this in my imagination? Do I need to act, or am I being silly? What if I’m wrong? And so on, until I’d examine it so much that I got all mixed up about what were thoughts vs. fears vs. hope vs. a deep sense.
The “is this worry or is this intuition?” confusion has not ended for me. There is always self-doubt when I think my intuition is telling me something. And with intuition, you don’t know its accuracy until whatever thing you’re intuiting actually happens.
One of the great things about aging is that now I’ve got evidence. I can look at the times where I said I knew it, when the thing I sensed came to pass, and ask, what did that knowing feel like compared to basic worry?
Looking back on the monumental times my intuition was right, there is a subtle difference for me between worry and intuition: in every instance, I couldn’t shake intuition. Worry comes and goes. In the cases where I intuited something, whatever feeling I had would keep coming back, and it was deep. No matter how much reasoning I tried in my head, the feeling would persist, a warning to do something about this, keep pushing on this.
This doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the distinction between worry and intuition in the moment at all. I’m a lot more inclined to listen to a feeling, though, to see what it might be telling me. As I age, I trust myself more to make decisions based on what I sense, and that feels kinda nice.