Intuition Vs. Anxiety: 7 Must-Know Differences And How To Use Intuition To Ease Anxiety

All of us have an inner voice that tells us to be cautious around certain people or situations or to try a bold new idea.

That’s intuition.

The ability to understand something immediately, without conscious reasoning, is called intuition.

In contrast, anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, or nervousness about an uncertain event.

You might feel dread or a gut sense of discomfort and assume it’s your intuition trying to tell you something. 

Often, it manifests as physical symptoms, like a racing heart, sweating, and shaky hands.

So, what’s the distinction between intuition and anxiety?

7 Key Differences Between Intuition and Anxiety

Although making the call between anxiety vs. intuition isn’t always clear, here are some key distinctions between anxiety and intuition:

1. Intuition is a feeling about something interesting or dangerous, while anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness.

While intuition is usually based on experiences and stored knowledge, anxiety can be caused by anything that makes you feel unsafe, even if it is not justified.

Your intuition can guide you to make decisions or avoid danger.

Conversely, anxiety is a negative emotion that interferes with your life.

Consider how each affects you when deciding if your feeling is intuition or anxiety.

If it’s intuition, you’ll know what steps to take or what to refrain from doing.

For example, you might want to follow an entrepreneurial idea or turn down a business partnership because you sense it will collapse.

2. Intuition happens suddenly and without warning, while anxiety builds up over time.

Intuition is often sudden and comes without warning. In contrast, anxiety may develop over time.

having an anxiety attack in the middle of the night intuition vs anxiety

When you have intuition, you know something without any logical reason. For instance, if you’re an art dealer, you might feel someone is selling you a forgery of a famous piece of artwork despite no apparent flaws in it.

Anxiety often occurs due to rumination over too much conflicting information.

If you’re unsure which one you’re experiencing, ask yourself whether the feeling is sudden or gradual. Usually, if it is sudden, it is intuition; if it is gradual, it is anxiety.

3. Intuition usually pertains to a specific situation or person, while anxiety can apply to almost anything.

Your intuition is an instant, ineffable sense of someone or something.

You might feel that someone is dangerous, even if they are charming, or you might sense that things are about to get worse when everything is going well.

In contrast, anxiety is more general.

It is the feeling of dread or unease you feel when you are worried about something you need to do, like public speaking, or it can be more general, like concern about your health.

A key difference between intuition and anxiety is that intuition comes with subtle feelings and perceptions, while anxiety is almost always based on fear.

4. Intuition is usually positive, while anxiety is usually negative.

Intuition is “instinctive.” You may just be aware of something without knowing why.

Although you can’t always explain why you feel a certain way, a pattern recognition in your subconscious mind almost always influences intution.

Intuition is usually positive, even if it comes as a warning not to do something–such as taking a scheduled flight.

Alternatively, anxiety is feeling uneasy or worried about something that could happen, and you imagine all sorts of negative scenarios.

woman sad having a cup of coffee intuition vs anxiety

It’s based on our fears and doubts as it’s focused on all the ways something could go wrong.

5. Intuition is often accompanied by certainty, while anxiety is often accompanied by doubt.

The power of intuition is fascinating. You just know something without knowing how you know it.

On the contrary, anxiety goes hand-in-hand with doubt or uncertainty. It might feel like you’re over your head or have no idea where to start.

Trust your feelings if it comes with a sense of knowing or certainty. It’s probably your intuition.

However, if your feeling comes with doubt or uncertainty, you might want to step back and reevaluate the situation. It’s probably your intuition.

6. Intuition is usually based on previous experience, while anxiety often comes from imagination.

When you know something intuitively, it’s usually based on patterns you’ve noticed in the past.

Perhaps this explains Conrad Hilton’s success as a hotelier. He used his intuition to become the highest bidder when making sealed bids for prestigious hotels.

However, anxiety is often based more on fears in your head rather than real problems.

Your anxiety is more likely about your imagination than anything else if you constantly worry about what could happen.

7. Intuition lets you understand something immediately without conscious reasoning, while anxiety refers to feeling worried or uneasy about uncertain events.

Intuition and anxiety may sometimes appear similar, but they are two quite different things.

close up of a woman holding a stem intuition vs anxiety

Understanding something intuitively occurs without conscious reasoning.

Conversely, anxiety is when you feel worried or uneasy about something uncertain.

Making quick decisions based on intuition is possible when there is no evidence regarding the best course of action.

Anxiety can, however, make you more cautious in uncertain situations.

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How to Use Your Intuition to Ease Anxiety

Your intuition always reminds you to relax when you’re anxious or stressed. It nudges you to be confident because it will all work out.

Using intuition to ease anxiety begins with trust. It could be part of your subconscious mind, which always works in the background, even when you are unaware of it.

Next, start listening to what your intuition is telling you.

Is it telling you to take a different route home from work?

Should you avoid a specific person or situation?

Don’t be afraid to follow whatever guidance comes up for you.

Intuition always guides you to what’s best for you and protects you. Whenever you feel anxious, turn to your intuition.

Intuition can help ease your anxiety in many ways:

  • When you’re feeling lost, you can get back on track by listening to your intuition. Choosing what to do next can be difficult when you’re confused. Make the right choice for yourself with a little guidance from your intuition.
  • When you feel insecure, your intuition can help you better understand yourself. It is possible to use it to figure out what is causing the insecurity, how to fix it, and what will make you feel better. Sometimes the intuitive response to a situation isn’t what you expected, but it’s often the best option.
  • When you feel strongly about something but cannot prove it, it could be your intuition, especially if it can help you gain a new perspective on things you are anxious about.
  • When you’re nervous about deciding, your intuition can help you make better choices. Trust your inner voice and listen to it. It isn’t always necessary to know exactly what to do or how to do it. It’s often just enough to take the first step.

FAQs About Intuition and Anxiety

The decision to act or not is constantly before us.

In the absence of sufficient information, we must rely on our instincts, feelings, or sense of possibilities.

Yet this elusive, subjective impression can be hard to define. Is it intuition or anxiety?

To clarify the distinction between intuition and anxiety, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

How do I trust my intuition with anxiety?

Staying calm in anxiety-causing situations can be achieved by trusting your intuition.

Intuition is your brain’s subconscious way of processing information. It’s the part of your brain that notices when something feels off, even if you can’t explain it consciously. It can be a valuable tool for managing anxiety.

How do you know if it’s intuition or overthinking?

You can tell intuition from overthinking by following these guidelines:

Start by paying attention to how you come up with the idea. The feeling of intuition is often more of an “ah-ha!” moment than a nagging feeling.

Alternatively, overthinking results from ruminating over an issue or obsessing about all the possible worst-case scenarios. 

The second thing to consider is how certain you are about the idea. There is often a strong sense of certainty associated with intuition, even when you cannot explain it.

On the other hand, a feeling based on overthinking will likely be accompanied by anxiety and doubt. 

What is the difference between a gut feeling and anxiety?

A gut feeling is how we feel at the moment. This is a natural reaction to something that feels threatening. Often accompanied by a sense of unease or dread, it’s intricately linked to survival instincts. 

We have all experienced “gut feelings” at some point in our lives. A feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something is off.

Symptoms of anxiety include sweating, racing heartbeats, and difficulty breathing.

Can anxiety block your intuition?

When you are anxious, you have difficulty thinking clearly and focusing.

\When you focus on what could go wrong, you might miss important cues from your body.

Also, adrenaline and other stress hormones can impair your decision-making.

If you’re feeling anxious, take a step back and relax. When you calm down, you’ll be able to listen to your intuition and make decisions based on what feels right.

Final Thoughts

Overall, intuition is how your brain processes information subconsciously, while anxiety is a temporary or chronic mental health condition like generalized anxiety disorder with recognizable physiological symptoms.

Intuition often arises as a sudden, clear sense about something, while anxiety comes gradually and is often accompanied by doubt.

Feeling intuition and having anxiety can get confusing at times. Learn how to differentiate between the two in this intuition vs anxiety post.

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