The most frequent request I get from readers is to explain how to tell the difference between intuition and their own thoughts.

Here are two examples to help you understand how to know the difference between your own thoughts and a flash of intuition.

The other day I heard a little voice in my head.

It said: Look for the plumber’s cell phone number.

I chose to ignore it. Big mistake.

I have a former client who happens to own a plumbing company. Two weeks ago, I’d had a plumbing problem in the upstairs bathroom and called him. He sent over some of his crew to take care of the problem. In the meantime, I’d tucked away his private cell number in a notebook I keep at my office, thinking I wouldn’t need it again.

Confusing paranoia with intuition

When I got this intuitive flash I decided I was just being paranoid due to the recent plumbing problem and kept working without going through my notes to find the client’s cell, although I must confess this thought kept nagging at me. I even recall thinking: If it turns out I’m wrong this will make a fine example for readers who are still unclear as to how to distinguish rational thoughts from intuitive flashes.

Guess what? The first thing I heard when I walked in the door at 6:15 was the sound of running water coming from the basement! I was beside myself that another old pipe had developed a leak. Plus, I wanted to kick myself – for not having my client’s cell as it was after hours and his company was closed for the day.

Luckily, my client has an emergency number and he did send out some of his plumbers but, I had to wait nearly an hour that I wouldn’t have had to wait otherwise if I’d called him directly on his cell.

It never fails, when you overlook an early warning from your intuition you’re always sorry.

Tamra Dobler, a PbI reader, emailed me her own incredible story of overlooking her intuition’s early warning and graciously agreed to share with everyone:

“To set the stage, at work I’m a food scientist which means I spend about ½ my time in my office, and ½ my time in the test kitchen – with all of the normal stuff you would find in a home kitchen, plus a bunch of other equipment.

It was Friday afternoon and I was getting the munchies. I had brought an apple in my bag that day and it was a very big apple, so I wanted to cut it first before I ate it. No biggie- I’ll just go back to the kitchen and cut it. Mind you- Friday afternoons are typically reserved for paperwork, so usually no one is working in the kitchens.

As soon as I got back to the empty kitchen my intuition said the strangest thing to me, “This is really stupid to be back here all by yourself. What if you get seriously injure? No one would be here to save you.”

Me and my logical mind responded, “Intuition- what are you talking about? I’m just cutting an apple. It’s not like I’m using the big grinder, the deep fat fryers are all turned off, and there ARE still people in the building, just not the kitchen.”

Intuition “Ok fine. Cut your apple.”

So I washed my apple, got out a cutting board and a knife. I quartered my apple and took the core out, then my intuition started to bother me again.

Intuition said, “Eat your apple now. The seeds are out, that’s enough.”

Me and my logical mind reply, “But they are still in huge pieces? It’s really much easier to eat them when they are in 1/8ths, the skin doesn’t get stuck in your teeth as easily, they are easier to chew, etc… I much prefer them in 1/8ths. I’m going to continue chopping.”

Intuition, “Are you sure???”

Me and my logical mind respond, “ yes – it will just take a minute. Intuition, you are being paranoid.”

So I cut the first quarter in half. No problem. I go to cut the second quarter in half and OUCH!!! I have no idea what happened, but somehow the apple slipped and I chopped my finger instead!!! I cut the tip of my ring finger, and cut through the middle of my nail. Although it wasn’t actually a “serious” injury, it sure hurt and bled a lot. Plus, being that I cut half of my nail in my nail bed, I would have to wait months for that to grow out- all the while being prone to catching snags…

That was a month ago. My nail still hasn’t fully grown out. It is my daily reminder of how I really should pay attentions. Sometimes it’s just hard when things aren’t as “bloody” obvious!”                           —————————

As you can see, both Tamra and I were well aware that it was our intuition speaking. Both of us minimized the warnings – to our detriment.

Why did we ‘choose’ to overlook and ignore these intuitive warning?

Intuition is simple, obvious and to the point. Intuition is not convoluted, mysterious and long winded.

We ignore our intuition because it seems too obvious and easy to rationalize away.

In my case, I presumed I was still worried about something else going wrong with the plumbing. I overlooked two clues that should have alerted me to the truth of this dire warning.

I was in the midst of doing something completely different when I heard this warning. I wasn’t thinking about the plumbing in the house. In fact, I felt confident that the plumbers had fixed the problem and hadn’t given it another thought, until my intuitive flash interrupted what I was focused upon. Your intuition will interrupt whatever you’re doing – just like the “news crawl” on the television interrupts the programming to make an announcement about something. This was one of the clues I overlooked.

I’ll explain the second clue using Tamra’s story as an example.

Tamra is a food scientist and works in a test kitchen.

Chopping and using kitchen tools are Tamra’s livelihood and no doubt, she’s a master at what she does. Acknowledging that she’s an expert in the kitchen she ‘reasoned’ that she wasn’t going to be using any of the more dangerous kitchen appliances such as the grinder or deep fryer to try to quell her anxiety. Who would presume that an expert would cut off the tip of her finger with a simple kitchen knife she’d used probably thousands of time. She chalked it up to being paranoid, just as I had and went ahead and ignored this early warning from her intuition.

Tamra ignored a huge clue as well.

Tamra was well aware of the anxiety she was feeling due to the flash of intuition warning her about cutting the apple. She tried to appease her anxiety by rationalizing that she was not using any of the dangerous appliances but, that she was merely cutting an apple.

When you still feel anxious even after applying reason and the thought still nags at you – take heed. An intuitive flash cannot be reasoned with or attributed to ‘paranoia.’ It won’t go away by applying logic. It will only subside if you listen to it.

I hope you learned a lot from both these unfortunate examples!

Tamra thank you for allowing me to share your story with PbI readers. I’m so happy to hear that your finger is healing, as I’m sure everyone who reads to this will be as well!

If you found this post worthwhile please share it on social media. Thank you!

P.S. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive exclusive content, updates, ask me questions about intuition and share your stories about intuition, plus get my free ebook, “The Intuition Primer,” as your gift. The subscription form is on the right – under the picture of the book cover.

Please check out my guest articles on The 100% You and The Daily Awe this week too.

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