I recently received a question from a reader:

Hi Anna.

I’d like to know how to differentiate intuition from other thought patterns and feelings because I wouldn’t want to follow what I thought was my intuition and then find out it’s wrong. How do I recognize the voice of my intuition?


Hi Stephan,

Thanks for your question.

While you’re on a path of intuitive development, putting yourself on a quest to distinguish your intuition from other ‘less valid’ input can be problematic and make your journey really quite difficult.

This might sound like a rather ridiculous thing to say – you’re developing your intuition to help you in your life, right? – I know. But just hear me out for one moment on this.

Being attached to what is intuition and what isn’t when you’re starting out is problematic BECAUSE opening yourself to intuition involves becoming sensitive and noticing all kinds of input – including body language, ‘vibes’ from other people and sounds. It also involves becoming more aware of your own inner world – your feelings, your thoughts. Just opening yourself up to this input and processing it is difficult enough without having to constantly sort through it and triage it into two categories: ‘real’ intuition and stuff you shouldn’t listen to.

So how do intuitives ever manage to know which is which? What is their secret?

Their first secret is this:

They are not terribly attached to what is ‘real’ intuitive input and what is not, in the beginning.

In the beginning, they don’t beat themselves up about possibly getting it wrong, or agonizing over whether that feeling they have is really from their Higher self or not. That should not be your focus if you’re a beginner at hearing spiritual guidance. Instead just begin by exploring the spirit world and by…

Becoming open to all signs and input

Many native cultures, such as the Aboriginal culture, read the signs and messages in nature. We don’t just see signs in nature though – we can see signs in things that others say and do and what happens around us.

We can begin to see life as we would analyze a dream that’s rich in symbolism.

We can bring out the common thread. We see that everything is meaningful – everything is manifested by us, and we can see all input and signs around us as relevant. Of course, there are always the signs and signals that jump out more than others – the particularly strong intuitive insights. But the first stage of developing ESP is sensitization. Noticing things more – noticing sounds, noticing what you see, the people you meet, noticing what is going on inside you emotionally and the thoughts that enter your head – developing a tremendous self-awareness. In this intuitive, perceptive mindset, the thought ‘oh no, what if this is not intuition?!’ does not arise. The attachment is not there as much. In the beginning, it’s about exploration of what is around you and in you.

This stage is really important. I have noticed that many intuitives are just people who notice things.

My students used to tell me that they could never say anything that went unnoticed by me in the classroom. My sense of hearing is very good as is my sense of seeing. This is partly because I am naturally inquisitive and nosy. I want to perceive more because I like reading people, reading motives and finding out more. And I think that most intuitives are naturally interested in people and in human nature.

So, this is how you activate your intuition – by expanding your view of what you notice, inside you and outside of you.

Once you have learned to sensitize yourself to what is going on in you and around you, you will be in a position to receive real intuition and recognize it. But if you try to differentiate between intuition and other input right from the beginning without allowing your sensitivity to develop in an unattached way, you will be hindered by doubt.

If you find this approach of putting the matter of ‘accuracy’ to one side while you’re learning difficult to stomach because you just want your intuition to help you get from A to B, then reconsider your reasons for wanting to be psychic/intuitive. Intuition is not a switch you can flick once and then be intuitive. It is a mindset, a way of being that you can’t separate from the spiritual world. And the motive for living an intuitive life cannot be solely because you want to gain from it (although that can become part of it), but because you love your world to be rich in symbolism and magic.

Secret #2: Re-think the distinction between intuition and non-intuition

I prefer not to think of intuition as one thing and everything else as something to discard. I prefer to think in two categories – input that is low-vibrational (such as input from the ego or from a wounded inner self) and input that is spiritually high-vibrational, which you might class as intuition. Is all the high vibrational, good-feeling input from your Higher self? Some of it will be. Some of it will also be from your Guides and Angels.

There is a clear difference between a low-vibrational thought from your ego, such as ‘You’ll never manage to do that’ and a higher vibrational thought, which reassures you, which feels truthful and loving. You can feel the difference between the two energies. The low vibrational, bad-feeling thought makes you clam up and your body tense. The high vibrational, good-feeling thought gives you emotional relief and lets you breathe.

All strong intuitives have this ability to differentiate between what feels true and good to them and what doesn’t. This is called spiritual discernment and it’s a tool you’re using everyday to make your choices. You also need to run all intuition past it.

For example, let’s say you think your intuition is telling you to quit your job and do something different. If your feelings aren’t in agreement, you know you’re on the wrong track. But, of course you have to have high awareness of your emotions in the first place.

For me, when I get an intuitive insight, there is a little dialogue that goes on in me between my spiritual discernment and my intuition which says ‘ooh, that’s right, isn’t it?’ and straight away I get a feeling of certainty, perhaps of being excited or uplifted as well. It’s like the landscape of my emotions suddenly changes, like the clouds clearing and the sun coming through. For me, this is the seal of approval; the sign that the information I’m getting is relevant and meaningful. It feels right to me. In fact, this ‘feeling’ has proved such a powerful marker of truthful, accurate information that even when someone tells me I’m wrong but the feeling tells me I’m right, I’d trust that feeling first.

To develop more awareness of your feelings, practice going inside and listening to your emotions. Face up to uncomfortable ones which keep your head buried in the sand. (In my next post I’ll be talking more about this.) Work on noticing the thoughts you’re having as much as possible, without judgment. Are they positive or negative? Hear and notice the loving, high vibrational thoughts that come from your Spirit Guides and Higher self. Notice the low-vibrational thoughts that can come from your shadow side or a wounded inner self.

Everyone has their own personal, unique inner language of feelings and symbolism that they need to familiarize themselves with. In this respect, the landscape of your intuition is very much like the dreamscape. In my readings, my Spirit Guides often draw comparisons between a client’s situation and situations that have occurred in my life or the lives of those around me, by sending old feelings that I recognize that apply to this situation, such as sinking feelings, excited feelings, feelings of pride or anger. Many people are not even aware of their feelings to this degree. To be intuitive, you have to have a high level of awareness and notice the feelings and inner patterns which crop up time and again, or which are humming along in the background.

Everyone receives intuition in different ways. All of what is written above is based on my own personal experiences.

What are your thoughts and personal experiences in this?