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Gut Feeling vs Overthinking- How can you tell them apart

Is your anxiety coming from a ‘gut feeling’ or negative thinking?

When you walk down a road alone at night, you instinctively clutch at your bag because your brain is alerted by the fact that there is some possibility of danger coming your way. This is a gut instinct that your brain is wired to follow without having to think about or evaluate the situation or the implications of it consciously. This is because your cognitive processes have, at an earlier stage, understood the situation and the kind of consequences it could have, perhaps because you have read of crimes taking place in isolated or dark areas.


However, in some cases, you feel more than just alert. As you walk down a road alone, you may perhaps think about an unfavorable situation that could take place and all the finer details associated with it, causing you to feel anxious and fearful. Your thoughts about the details may sometimes get clouded with reality, making you jump at small sounds or get startled at the sight of shadows. Moreover, it will give you the sensation of something gripping tightly at your stomach from the inside. Giving rise to symptoms of anxiety and depression, your brain seems to be working in overtime, as you think of all the possible consequences.

How do you tell the difference?

1)How do you tell the difference

It can be rather stressful for you to try to figure out what’s wrong and what you should be dealing with. For instance, you feel anxious but are certain it’s just a gut feeling. It concerns you so deeply that you find yourself hyperventilating, and asking yourself a whole host of questions – “If it’s just a gut feeling, WHY am I hyperventilating?”, “What is wrong with me? Am I anxious? Is anxiety an illness?”


We understand that questions like that are bound to come up in your head from time-to-time. Let’s take a look at a few ways in which we can tell instincts and overthink apart.

Anxiety is driven by fear

2)Anxiety is driven by fear

When you get anxious about something, it’s because you believe there is certainly danger coming your way. You perceive danger because while you were trying to protect yourself, somehow you ended up overestimating the perils of the situation. When you feel threatened or extremely scared of something, you end up feeling anxious. Intuition is much more straightforward. It comes to you as a hunch, something that crosses your mind because your subconscious mind made the most of past experiences or knowledge.

Intuition gives you a gentle nudge

3)Intuition gives you a gentle nudge

When you have a gut feeling that something may be amiss or that there is the possibility of something being amiss, your instinct gives you a sort of gentle nudge that tells you to be alert; that there is no real danger but that there could be, so you need to be careful. Intuitions are not emotionally charged, thus allowing you to remain calm and composed. This gentle nudge reassures you that you know what could happen if you are not alert and so you must stay alert. The relaxation comes from knowing that you are equipped from handling whatever may come your way. When it comes to anxiety, it almost screams at you to tell you something is wrong. You feel like you can’t shake it off because it’s practically demanding for you to focus on it.

Anxiety is accompanied by physiological symptoms

4)Anxiety is accompanied by physiological symptoms

Have you ever woken up from a nightmare, shaking and sweating profusely? That is your body’s reaction to fear, which is what induces anxiety. You may then feel many anxiety symptoms, such as chest pain, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations – amongst a few others. When you feel anxious, you may feel like you are not equipped enough to deal with the situation and you feel like running away from it. An intuition, on the other hand, reminds you of the possibility of danger but you feel like you have the strength to fight any situation that may pose a threat to you.

Gut feelings can be taken care of

5)Gut feelings can be taken care of

When you feel like something is wrong or could go wrong, you can come up with an actionable plan to prepare for it, whether it is immediate or not. When it’s overthinking and anxiety controlling your behavior, you end up worrying yourself sick. If you can’t take care of something immediately, you worry. If you think of a plan to take care of it later, you worry that you might be too late. This sends you into a state of panic and you almost feel like you’re doomed.

Intuition comes to you occasionally

6)Intuition comes to you occasionally

Instincts come to you once in a while when your inner wisdom reminds you that you ought to take care of something fairly significant. Anxiety may speak up about practically everything! From someone forgetting to return an unimportant phone-call to losing a sock – anxiety creeps into even the littlest things, at random.

Instincts observe patterns

7)Instincts observe patterns

As has been mentioned, instincts are a result of past knowledge or experiences. They come up as a result of patterns in your daily routine that may cause obstacles. For instance, your commute to work in a taxi. The first time you took a cab, you arrived late because you did not account for your Uber taking 8-10 minutes to arrive. Then you faced about 10 minutes of traffic. Overall, you got delayed by 20 minutes. Now, you avoid that simply by starting 20 minutes early. You are following an instinct that you may be late again if you do not account for unforeseen circumstances. Anxiety, though, does not bother with patterns. It may make you stay up all night because you are scared you will be late to work again. You may end up imagining scenarios where you have overslept and are now doubly late to work than you have ever been

Is it clearer to you now if you are anxious or if you are just feeling an instinct? If you feel like you are prone to feeling more anxious than instinctive, you might wish to see a therapist. You can book a consultation with us here. A holistic institute (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Illuminations can help you cope with anxiety and help you with stress management.

At Illuminations, we also have energy healing masters who gently remove negative energy and replace it with clean energy. We also conduct energy healing courses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These courses are delivered by trained practitioners, so as to enable you to help heal your anxiety or that of your loved ones.

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