As someone with general anxiety, I am constantly questioning whether my inner thoughts are simply a product of my anxious mind, or something more intuitive and real. It's endlessly frustrating for me to express my worries, then hear someone say something like, "You just have to trust your gut." If you've ever experienced the kind of soul-crushing anxiety that makes little sense to anyone but you, you know that trusting your inner voice is a lot more difficult than it seems. There are a lot of unexpected differences between intuition and anxiety.
A few weeks ago, I came across a tweet that simply and quickly explained all of my stress over the whole differences between intuition and anxiety debacle I constantly have in the back of my mind: from user @holy_schnitt, "one thing about anxiety that kinda blows is you absolutely can’t trust your “gut feeling” bc you get gut feelings that something is wrong every 22.5 seconds." The thought stayed with me, both as a comforting reminder that I am not alone, and as an annoying reminder that I do not know how to differentiate between two very separate feelings.
And as is probably already obvious, I am certainly not alone. Research has found that people who are anxious have a significantly reduced ability to use their intuition. This confirms my thoughts that, when anxious, there is no such thing as "trusting your gut." For example: I am terrified of flying. Recently, before a flight, I convinced myself that all of my anxious feelings (racing heart, butterflies in my stomach, images of crashing in my head) were a sign that something was going to go wrong on my flight. Of course, everything ended up being fine — but that "gut feeling" I convinced myself I was experiencing made me feel sick to my stomach with worry, and I had to talk myself into getting on the plane as I silently cried.
Instances like these bring up the question of how to tell the difference between intuition and anxiety. They can seem small, but there are actually distinct differences between the two. Here are a few: