top of page

Intuition or Anxiety?: How To Tell Which Is Making the Decision

Three things we dive into in this episode:

  1. How to figure out when anxiety is driving your decisions.

  2. How to recognize your intuition + defining the three pieces of the intuition triangle framework

  3. Identifying when your intuition is speaking and guiding you to make a change


📌Episode Highlights

[04:46] Defining Intuition and Anxiety

  • Anxiety is protective, excessive worrying.

  • Many of us live with some degree of anxiety, possibly rooted in traumatic experiences.

Caitie: “Anxiety is this kind of just—we’re going to define it as this voice in your brain that's trying to protect you, but it's not really protecting you. It's an attempt to protect, it's an attempt to try to keep you safe, but it's actually kind of keeping you stuck in, first of all, an anxious loop, a loop of ruminating thoughts, a loop of self-deprecating thoughts.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • Intuition is our inner wisdom.

  • Intuition is a peaceful interplay between instinctual gut feeling, emotional intelligence, and rational thoughts.

  • Don’t justify intuition as just one of those three puzzle pieces.

[11:39] Intuition vs. Anxiety in Making Big Life Decisions

  • Caitie has been living in New York City for the past 10 years.

  • Having traveled extensively since she was 16, she considers NYC her home.

  • She started casually thinking about moving in late 2021 and more seriously doing so when she and her partner broke up.

[15:36] Reaching a Place of Arrival

  • There is an energy of constant grinding in NYC. But Caitie had reached a place where she wanted to flow more than grind.

  • Early this year, she felt that she was a bit more in a place of arrival in her career.

  • She had a biological and psychological need to flow more and grind less from doing personal work in therapy and healing.

  • She wanted a place where she could feel better in her body to support her clients' and her own health better.

[19:33] Leaving New York

  • Caitie started traveling in March to give herself time to decide where to live next.

  • There were emotional and rational aspects to her decision-making, which helped her understand that her decision to leave was her intuition.

  • If it was her anxiety talking, it would urge her to stay to keep her in her comfort zone.

  • She ended up moving to Denver, Colorado

  • Aside from feeling inspired and emotionally and socially supported there, the cost of living was slightly lower than NYC.

Caitie: “It's not that I haven't had moments where I've doubted this decision. But I've noticed that the moments where I have doubted the decision are more my anxiety talking rather than my intuition talking.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[32:00] Navigating Intuition vs. Anxiety in Making Small, Everyday Decisions

  • The concept of intuition versus anxiety comes up for Caitie a lot with exercise.

  • Your intuition will push you out of your comfort zone for positive, long-term growth; anxiety will keep you in your comfort zone to relieve tension only in the short term.

  • Intuition will nudge you to place trust in the unknown; anxiety will attempt to play it safe and predict the future.

  • Your intuition will always invite you to grow, challenge yourself, and honor your personal values, even when it feels scary.

  • Anxiety will ask you to shrink, play it safe, and miss out on the fullness of life.

[41:46] Processing Prompt

  • Use the intuition triangle in an area of your life you’re trying to make a decision about.

  • It can either be a big life decision or a small decision you need to make everyday.

  • Draw a triangle on a journal, or even mentally, with gut instinct, emotions, and rational thoughts on each point.

[43:20] Action Experiment

  • Make a decision based on the intuition triangle framework. You can practice applying the framework with one small life decision.

  • Trust that it was the best decision you could make with the data you had at the time.

  • Also, trust that you’ll collect more data about yourself over time using this framework.

  • Eventually, the intuition triangle will become your default rather than something you actively have to do.

  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you’re having a hard time making decisions. Give yourself time to discern intuition from anxiety.

[45:33] Every Decision is a Learning Opportunity

  • Caitie did a Reiki and energy healing session with her Reiki practitioner friend.

Caitie: “The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right and wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, each feeling, and each action that you experience.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • As you’re learning to identify intuition from anxiety, you’ll make intuitive decisions that don’t necessarily lead you to the place you want.

  • Every decision will lead you to a new set of learning opportunities, possibilities, and experiences.

  • Making the decision is what will allow you to take the next step toward the next thing.

About Caitie

Caitie Corradino MS, RDN, CDN, RYT, CPT, is the founder and lead counselor of Full Soul Nutrition. She is a registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, a certified fitness and yoga instructor, an eating disorder recovery coach, and a Reiki practitioner. She is passionate about providing counseling services that are truly integrative and provide healing for the whole person.

Connect with Caitie: Website | Instagram

Enjoyed the Podcast?

Whole, Full, & Alive is a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are—underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account.

Leave a review and share it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you enjoyed tuning in to this podcast, Caitie would appreciate it if you wrote a review. You can also share this episode to help others feel whole, full, and alive. Start learning with every decision you make!

Have any questions or want to leave a suggestion? Come say hi on the 'gram, @caitie.c.rd! You can also sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!

Thanks for listening! 💖 Stay tuned to Caitie’s website for more episode updates and other exciting programs and resources.


Caitie Corradino: Your inner knowing is created by a peaceful interplay between your gut instincts. What are you feeling in your body? What is your body telling you to do with your emotions, your emotional intelligence? What are my emotions saying here? And rational thoughts. What just makes sense in this moment.

Welcome to Whole, Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician, nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition.

But underneath my titles and resume, I’m a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity. I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive. Right here, right now. Let's get into it.

Hey, welcome to Episode Six of Whole, Full and Alive. I am so grateful that you are back here for another episode. Or maybe it's the first episode you're listening to. Either way, I'm really thankful that you're here. I'm really thankful that we got connected in some way, and that I get to be here talking with you today. I am back on the microphone solo for today's episode after a few episodes with guests.

And I just have to say, of course, that Candice and Brie and Mira were some of the best first guests I could have ever possibly fathom to to have on a podcast, and I'm so grateful for these beautiful women. And also for the people you are going to be hearing from over the next couple of weeks. I've got more interviews recorded and there'll be coming at you.

But for today, I wanted to come to you solo to talk about a topic that comes up a lot with my clients and also with my friends and family and also with me internally. And that is, is my intuition telling me to make this decision right now? Or is my anxiety telling me to make this decision right now? In other words, how can you tell if your intuition is drawing you towards something or if your anxiety is drawing you towards something?

And I'm coming to you to talk about this topic on a really big day in my life. I just want to say that I am moving to Denver, Colorado today from New York City. My flight is in just a couple of hours. Totally haven't finished packing yet. But I'm here talking to you on this podcast microphone because I just want it to show up in an authentic energy in my real life. And I feel like sometimes when the conditions are perfect and I have this just like perfect amount of time and space to actually talk on the microphone, I'm actually not able to speak from the most genuine place.

And sometimes when I just take time to pull over in the midst of something big and just speak from the heart, things happen a little bit smoother, a little bit better, and definitely much more authentically. So that's where I'm at today as I'm talking to you about this topic.

Is my intuition telling me to do this? Or is my anxiety telling me to do this? I want to talk about this topic in the context of big life decisions, such as my decision to move to Colorado from New York City. I will talk to you about that. And I also want to talk to you about this in the context of little everyday decisions, such as self-care decisions, such as what should I order at the restaurant? Or should I exercise today? Or should I take a rest day today?

This concept of intuition versus anxiety comes up in big life choices like do I want to move? Do I want to leave this relationship or do I want to stay in this relationship? And do I want to take this job or do I not want to take this job? This concept obviously comes up in little everyday decisions because there are so many different things we have to decide as humans on a regular basis. I want to provide some tools for navigating this messiness in both of those contexts.

Before I dive into my personal stories and examples and all of that good stuff, I want us to define intuition, and I want us to define anxiety. Maybe right off the bat, you already have your own definitions for what you consider to be intuition and what you consider to be anxiety. In the context of this conversation that I'm having with you today, let's say that anxiety is, now of course, there's a lot of medical, scientific DSM definitions for anxiety and we can define in a lot of ways, but I want to simplify it for today. I want to define anxiety as protective, excessive worrying. Anxiety is when you are trying to protect yourself from danger, but in perhaps an unnecessary and excessive and kind of like ruminating sort of way.

Most of us in the world live with some degree of anxiety. That is largely because our bodies were not built for the world that we live in today. Just think about the way the world has advanced and technology has advanced. Even in the last 10 years, even in your lifetime, I'm assuming you're more than 10 years old, even in your lifetime, how much the world has changed and the environments around us have changed and the type of technology that we have access to has changed.

In the last 10 years, we have had to adapt to being exposed to a million different people's opinions per day on social media. That is something that our bodies and our brains were not built for. Our ancestors, our bodies were not designed to be able to take in hundreds of people's opinions and to know what this random person that you went to high school with had for breakfast. Our bodies were not built for that. Our bodies were not built for this 9 to 5 high pressure grind. Our human bodies were not built for diet culture, yo-yo dieting, pressure to have a certain body shape and size.

So of course, a lot of us develop some degree of anxiety because we're trying to force our human bodies to live in a world that was not designed for it. And our brain responds by trying to protect itself through excessive worry. A lot of us live with some degree of anxiety because we've had certain traumatic experiences. Our brain was exposed to those experiences, and learned that we need to protect ourselves from experiencing that in the future, and produces certain anxious thoughts in an attempt to protect us from experiencing that thing again.

Anxiety is this kind of just we're going to define it as this voice in your brain that's trying to protect you, but it's not really protecting you. It's an attempt to protect, it's an attempt to try to keep you safe, but it's actually kind of keeping you stuck in first of all, an anxious loop, a loop of ruminating thoughts, a loop of self-deprecating thoughts, often a loop of terrible worrying stressful thoughts in an attempt to protect and play it safe.

Your intuition, on the other hand, is your inner wisdom. I know that a lot of people who think of this concept of intuition sort of define it as this magical, sparkly moment that just like hits you when you know exactly what to do. That's not how I want to define intuition today because I don't really believe that it's just that. I believe that intuition is a combination of that instinctual gut feeling combined with emotional intelligence, combined with rational thoughts.

And this is a definition of intuition that I've actually taken from the Intuitive Eating Framework. This is the framework that I use for nutrition counseling created by two amazing dietitians named Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This is the way they define intuition when it comes to intuitive eating. It's a peaceful interplay between your emotions, your instincts and your rational thoughts. And I believe that that's what intuition is in general. Your inner knowing is created by a peaceful interplay between your gut instincts. What are you feeling in your body? What is your body telling you to do? With your emotions, your emotional intelligence. What am I emotions saying here? And rational thoughts. What just makes sense in this moment?

I think it's important that we don't justify an intuition by one of those three pieces of the puzzle. I think it's important that we don't just define intuition as this body inner knowing because that's not accessible to us at all times. And it's not really gonna make a lot of sense to just make all of your decisions based off of gut instincts, gut feelings. What's my body's saying right now? It actually makes a lot of sense to also pay attention to how you're feeling emotionally. And it also makes a lot of sense to think about, rationally, practically what makes sense here. However, it also doesn't make sense to only think about emotions. And it doesn't make sense to only think through decisions rationally. Because then we just get stuck in living this practical, rational life that's not always the best and most fulfilling for us.

Intuition is a peaceful interplay. Think of it as like a triangle. So you've got one point in the triangle is your gut instincts, those feelings that you get about what is right, peacefully interplaying with your emotions. What am I feeling emotionally right now? Peacefully interplaying with rational, practical thoughts. What's making sense right now? And no one of those three things is going to overpower the other. It's kind of just like a peaceful interplay between those three things. Whereas anxiety is just excessive worry. And in other words, thoughts that are trying to just relieve tension in the short-term, to protect you in the short-term, in a way that's ultimately harmful long-term.

As I'm diving through this concept of, “Is my intuition making this decision? Or is my anxiety making this decision?”, I hope that you can keep those two definitions in mind. Since I'm coming to you on my moving day, I would love to tell you a little bit more about how I decided to move to Colorado using this concept of intuition versus anxiety. This is like the big life decisions part of the episode. Later, I'll talk about how do we use intuition versus anxiety in the little everyday decisions. But this is like in the big life decisions context for now.

As I said, as you may know, I have been living in New York City for the past 10 years. And I've also been in the greater New York City area for my entire life. My family is from right outside the Lincoln Tunnel. And so Greater New York City area is all I have ever known for my entire life as home. Even though I've traveled extensively since I was 16 years old and I studied abroad four times in college and I've always kind of had that adventurous, traveling everywhere kind of spirit, I have never called anywhere else home besides New York City. So deciding to leave New York City was actually an incredibly big decision for me.

I started to get the itch that I wanted to make this decision, that I wanted this to be the path I'd follow in late 2021, I would say was when it really, really started to be on my mind a lot. I was in a relationship at the time as I talked about in Episode One, that relationship. So I didn't really think that it was going to be possible for me to move unless I could also get my partner at the time thinking about moving, too. From late 2021 into early 2022, I had only just sort of casually thought about it. I was like, “Well, I do think I want to try something new. I do think I want to live somewhere different. But I won't seriously hardcore start planning for it logistically until I can also get my partner actually thinking in the same way.”

However, we broke up, and I talked about why in Episode One. But once we broke up, I was like, “Okay, now I really actually have to start thinking about this in a serious way.” Because I've got this gut instincts, that part came in first, telling me to leave New York. That was all it started as was: a gut instinct. I just would wake up in New York and have a not-so-great feeling in my body, in my gut. I would hear sirens outside my window. I was living in Hell's Kitchen department at the time. So right in the heart of Manhattan. It was awesome that it was 10 blocks from Central Park, but it was not awesome that it was two blocks from Times Square. I would wake up and I'd hear sirens and they would just start to make me shudder a little bit.

As someone who had been living in Manhattan for 10 years, sirens had never made me shudder in that way before and all of a sudden, they were starting to bother me. And I would go out for my morning mental health walk and find that it wasn't serving my mental health in the way that I needed it to. In a similar way, when I would go out to restaurants and bars and just community spaces in New York, I started to get a feeling that I wasn't really fitting in anymore as much as I felt like I used to.

We can never generalize the population of a city. Not everyone in New York is the same. Not everyone anywhere is the same. Generally speaking, there was a New Yorker vibe that I felt like I was no longer resonating with. As much as, again, we can't generalize the entire population of any city, there is an energy of grind, grind, grind in New York City. I had reached this place earlier this year where I actually felt like I wanted to flow a little bit more than grind.

I spent the past 10 years doing my undergrad and my master's and my clinical dietetic internship and taking my dietetics board exam and my certified Intuitive Eating counselor exam, working out eating disorder treatment centers, working at different people's private practices, learning how to build a private practice, and then building it, and then incorporating it, and then finding clients and building a referral network and making mistakes and figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. And then early this year, I feel like I started to arrive a little bit more.

I'm a lifelong learner, and things are always going to be going up and down and all around for anyone. But I will say that in early January of this year, I definitely was like, “Okay, I'm a little bit more in a place of arrival in terms of my career than I've ever been in my entire life.” And I feel like I can start to flow more because I have finished a lot of the backbone work of my career and my business. I finished all my degrees, my master's, my board exams, my incorporation of my business, building my network, and getting clients, and things were just ready to flow a little bit more. I also threw some deeply personal work in my own therapy and working with my own mentors and healing from some stuff. I realized that I actually had a biological and psychological need to flow more and grind less.

Suffice it to say that I didn't really find that many people that I was able to spend time with in New York that also wantrf to flow more and grind less. There's just this energy in New York of go, go, go from not even 9 to 5, like 9 to 9, constantly rushing around places. Layer that in with the post-COVID energy of New York, which was honestly a really difficult time for a lot of people because a lot of businesses closed down, a lot of people lost their jobs,