We make decisions in everything we do—even the simple act of choosing what to eat is making a decision. But oftentimes, it's difficult to know whether we’re deciding based on our intuition or not. Sometimes, it's anxiety's voice telling us to do or not to do something. And if we end up listening to the wrong voice, we may end up stuck in a place that is harmful in the long run.
In the sixth episode of Whole, Full, & Alive, Caitie delves into the topic of decision-making. She explores the two voices—intuition and anxiety—that influence how we decide on everything in life. Learn how to make intuitive decisions in both small and big life events.
If you want to start making intuitive decisions that allow you to grow, listen to this episode!
💡Three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
Learn how to stop anxiety from driving your decisions.
Discover the three pieces of the intuition triangle framework.
Learn how to identify when your intuition is speaking and guiding you to make a change.
Release restrictive dieting, break free from body shame, & create habits that help you live fully! Sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!
[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
Catie 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 Catie 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 as her intuition told her.
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 Catie 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
Catie did a Reiki and energy healing session with her Reiki practitioner friend.
Catie: “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.
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.
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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, a lot of people were feeling really defeated. I was just like, “I don't know if this city is going to be the best place for me to continue growing my business and to continue the rest of my 20s.”
So I just felt this need to start flowing more and grinding a little bit less. My gut instinct felt like the energy that I wanted to cultivate in order to support my own health and to support my clients health was one that was just more flowy. I felt like I couldn't find that in New York City. I was having a hard time tapping into more of a flowy energy where I was living. So it started with more of just a gut instinct, a gut like, “Maybe I should try out something else and see if there is another place that I can call home so that I can feel better in my body, just better in my gut. And that would allow me hopefully to serve my clients better versus living in a place that I don't have this good feeling in my gut and showing up to my sessions just feeling irritated and tense and whatever.”
My decision to leave New York started with a gut instinct. But of course, as it came down to it, and I started doing my traveling in March and gave myself a couple of months to decide where I wanted to live next over the summer became time for me to actually make the decision about, “Okay, where do I want to settle down? I don't want to travel forever.” As much as I loved my nomadic lifestyle of five months, it was not going to be sustainable for me to do it forever for a lot of reasons.
So I obviously earlier this summer, I had to decide where am I gonna go next. And I had that gut instinct to work with that first point of the triangle to tell me, “Okay, maybe moving somewhere completely different, would be a good move for me.” But I had to have my gut instinct interplay with my emotions and with my rational thoughts to first of all, decide whether leaving New York was a good decision for me. And then second of all, to decide where is it that I'm going to move.
When it came to the decision to leave New York, like I said, it started with this gut feeling that just I wasn't vibing there anymore. In my body, I was just rejecting New York for some reason. There was also the emotional piece of it, which was that I was kind of feeling stressed out and sad more often than not. when I was in Manhattan for my last couple of months. There was the complexities of that partnership that I was in that were making me feel insecure and stressed out. But also, frankly, a lot of my closest friends had moved out of New York City. And a lot of the people that I feel most connected to in my life had left the city over the last five years, especially post-COVID, unfortunately, a lot of my closest friends moved out of New York to different places across the country and across the world.
I had friends relocate to Norway, and to London, and to Denver and to Florida, and LA, and I could name all the places. But basically, my closest, closest friends were not, for the most part, in New York City anymore. I had just a few limited number of people left. As an entrepreneur who works fully for herself from home, I didn't have quite as much opportunity to cultivate an in-person community in New York unless I was going to be willing to go out to networking events that were in person and stuff. But unfortunately, there wasn't that many of them happening in New York City post-COVID.
There wasn't that many opportunities to go, for a solopreneur to go meet other people, even just coffee shops and things like that were just not a great place to meet people in New York. First of all, because there's a different level of friendliness there. It's not very common to talk to strangers in coffee shops in New York City. Second, there weren't that many in-person community events happening in New York,because COVID restrictions really transformed the amount of event spaces that are available and a whole bunch of things, yada, yada. I'm not gonna go into that.
But basically, emotionally, I wasn't feeling super great in New York. I was feeling a little bit disconnected from community. And then layer on rational thought, New York is really expensive. I am a single entrepreneur, and I need to be able to live on a self-employed salary, or I need to be able to live on my business. Taxes in New York are crazy. Rent in New York is crazy. And inflation, obviously, is making everything even worse. And I was like, “You know what, it doesn't rationally make that much sense for me to be here if so many of my close friends have moved out.” Also, a lot of my family had relocated to, including my brother who had moved to Miami, so I was just like, “Okay, there's not that many people here for me anymore.”
I work for myself full-time remotely. I'm a registered dietician, and that allows me to work with people across state lines. So I don't necessarily need to be residing in the same place as my clients. So the gut instinct of, “I need to get out of New York”, combined with how I wasn't feeling so great emotionally, combined with rationally, it made a lot of sense for me to leave. That helped me understand that it was my intuition telling me to get out of New York, and not my anxiety. My anxiety would come in and be like, “Caitie, you can't move anywhere else. You've been in New York your whole life. You're so comfortable here. This is your home. You don't know anywhere else.”
But my anxiety really was just trying to keep me in my comfort zone, and it was trying to relieve tension in the short-term in a way that would ultimately be harmful for me long-term. You know, my anxiety would come in and be like, “Oh, but you know, New York so well. You've established your business here. You don't want to reincorporate somewhere else.” Things like that. That was anxiety just trying to keep me safe.
Anxiety would also just come in and be like, “You already have this comfortable apartment space. You already know what it's like to get around and maneuver your way around here. You don't want to move to a city where you have to get a car. You don't like driving.” Little things like that. Anxiety really was just trying to keep me small and trying to keep me playing it safe and tempting me to miss out on the opportunity to live somewhere else because it just wanted to protect me rationally in the short-term.
But long-term, that wouldn't have been the voice that I should have listened to. My inner wisdom, this beautiful interplay between my gut instincts, my emotions, and my rational thoughts was like, “Get the fuck out of New York.” No matter how logistically challenging it could be and no matter how far out of my comfort zone it could be, I needed to get out. So that was how I used intuition versus anxiety to make the decision to leave.
But then I also had to make the decision about where to next. Like I said, on my travels, I sampled a lot of places in the United States. I even sampled some places in Europe to see where I wanted to live next. I ultimately landed on Denver, Colorado because that is what my intuition was telling me to do. Gut instinct, for me, is usually what comes in first. I'm just talking about it in that order. But maybe for you, when you're making a decision and trying to identify your intuition, rational thoughts and emotions come in first. But for me, I've always been, especially since I recovered from my eating disorder and just got more in touch with my body cues, gut instinct is usually what comes in first for me.
The first piece of evidence that I got from my intuition telling me to move to Denver was the second I got to Denver for the first time. The first time I went to Denver was in April of this year, and I shit you not, the second I got on the bus from the airport, I looked outside the window of this bus, saw the mountains, and my whole body welled with a feeling of simultaneous inspiration and safety. I just was like, “I feel good here.” Maybe it was the altitude making me a little lightheaded and loopy. Maybe it was the fact that people on the bus were so nice and talking to me, and coming from New York City, I was really not used to talking to strangers and having nice, friendly conversations with them. But I also just felt this incredible gut instinct of like, “Whoa, maybe I'm going to move here.”
I just felt really free and also safe at the same time. I felt inspired but also grounded at the same time. Maybe that sounds dramatic, and also it’s truth. That was when gut instinct started to come in and say, “Maybe you should move to Denver.” But then I also had to incorporate the other two pieces of the intuition puzzle: the emotions and the rational thoughts. I was able to identify that Denver was a good place for me to move emotionally number one, because I felt pretty emotionally supported there, socially supported there. I have a few friends that moved there from New York City. And then I also was able to pretty quickly make friends there, which was unbelievable, and feel emotionally connected to them.
I also was able to sort of maintain more of an even-keeled emotional health during the time that I spent there in April and May because of how much access I had to nature while also having access to convenience like city conveniences that I was used to coming from New York City. And then, rationally, Denver has a slightly lower cost of living in New York City. I could move to a walkable area and hold off on getting a car for a little bit. I know eventually I'm gonna need a car there. Don't at me. But I am going to be able to move there for the first couple of months without a car and wait until I'm ready to make that purchase.
Rationally, it was a good decision because I really wanted to experience something different from New York. I wasn't going to move from New York to Boston. I wasn't going to go from one northeastern city to another northeastern city. I also was considering Miami and that was starting to feel really similar to New York to because so many people from New York even more so than going to Colorado or going to Miami, and it's starting to feel really congested and a lot of the same sort of like pressure filled energy, honestly, as New York City. So I just wanted to like bust out and do something different. On paper, Denver is quite different from New York City. That was how I use my intuition to make this decision to move over to Denver.
Also, the final piece of the puzzle that fell into place was that I met this girl who was moving to Manhattan and offered for me to just completely take over her apartment lease. So I didn't even have to look for an apartment in Denver. Crazy. A really, really good deal; a really, really beautiful space; this girl is also a solopreneur, also, just really similar to me, in general; felt really safe in the space. It's across the street from grocery stores, and a gym. and a coffee shop. It's in a really great location. I didn't have to buy any furniture or anything. I'm going to be able to move into an apartment that already has furniture in it. That is incredibly lucky because my cross-country move is costing me probably 20% of what it should cost to move across the country. So rationally, I realized, “Yeah, this makes a lot of sense.”
I've had these moments when anxiety has tried to encourage me to play it safe. And say, like, “Caitie, you are not from the West Coast; you're from the East Coast, you're a New Yorker, you're hardcore, you're not going to fit in Denver.” My anxiety is like attempting to predict the future, even though the future can't really be predicted. All I could do is just lean into this interplay of emotions and things and rational thoughts telling me Denver's a good idea.
So 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. Before I go into our processing prompts and our actionable experiment today, I also want to put this in the context of everyday small decisions. Because maybe not all of us are going to place right now where we're contemplating relocating or we're contemplating a big, life-altering decision. Maybe we are just contemplating what we want to order at a restaurant, or whether or not we want to exercise today, or something like that.
I can say personally that this concept of intuition versus anxiety comes up for me a lot with exercise. I'm a human. I've really, really healed my relationship with exercise with fitness with movement so deeply, so profoundly. And also because I live in a world that is constantly telling us that we should exercise, we should do this, we should do that. Fitness culture can be very rigid and regimented and wagging a finger at you. I'm not immune to feeling anxiety about exercise. Sometimes I notice that my anxious voice is telling me to exercise on some days when I know my intuition doesn't really think I should exercise.
If you're relating to that, if you're relating to intuition versus anxiety in the context of a decision like that, I want to give you a framework for navigating that as well. I guess because I'm keeping it open and vulnerable here, let me use my example of exercise. Let me use exercise as an example for explaining this. Because this came up for me this morning. Like I said, it is moving day for me. My flight is in a few hours. I also was at my cousin's wedding last night. I'm in the midst of a really busy time. And when I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to do a workout.
Even though it didn't really make sense rationally because I have a lot of stuff to do, like record this podcast and pack before I get on a plane. And it didn't really make sense emotionally because I wasn't feeling like exercising was going to emotionally make me happy. I’m already pretty good. And it didn't really make sense grom a gut instinct sort of place because my body was not drawn towards a movement. My body was feeling drawn towards the things that I know, oh, my God, I need to get done.
My anxiety was really just telling me that I should work out this morning. Not my intuition. And here's how I was able to figure that out. It wasn't super straightforward, figuring that out. But I want to share some tools, some statements, some things that you can use to parse out intuition from anxiety in the context of this dilemma that I think will be helpful for you and whatever decision you're trying to make today.
An exercise is a good one because exercise is something that even when we don't feel like we fully want to do it, sometimes it can be a really good thing to do. But it's like, how do we tell if it's a good kind of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, if it's a good kind of doing the thing you don't want to do? Or if it's a harmful kind of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, if it's a harmful kind of forcing yourself to do the thing you don't want to do?
Sometimes, even though you don't want to exercise, even though it's not the thing you feel compelled to do, it's still a good thing for you to nudge yourself to do because you ultimately do feel better, you ultimately do practice good self-care in that way. It's like how do you tell if even though you don't fully want to do something, if it's a good thing for you to do? Well, if it's something that's asking you to step out of your comfort zone in a way that supports positive, long-term growth, then maybe you should do it.
But if it's something that's asking you to stay in your comfort zone in a way that will relieve tension in the short-term in a way that's harmful long-term, that's your anxiety. In the context of working out, maybe this exercise or this workout is going to push you out of your comfort zone. But it's going to do so in a way that supports long-term growth.
Or maybe if you engage in this workout, it's a form of you just staying in your comfort zone to just try to get negative body image thoughts to shut up and relieve that tension in the short-term but it's ultimately harmful long-term because you're pushing yourself into exhaustion or injury.
When I woke up this morning, my brain was like, “You should work out.” And if I worked out, it probably would have relieved some tension in the short-term because it would have gotten that should voice in my brain to shut up. But it would have ultimately been harmful in the long-term because my body was exhausted and I had other more important things to do. I had other more important priorities to attend to. So it really was anxiety telling me to work out because it was just trying to relieve tension in the short-term in a way that was harmful long-term versus my intuition pushing me out of my comfort zone in a positive way.
Another way to tell if you're making an anxious decision or an intuitive decision is are you trying to predict the future and play it safe? Or are you placing trust in the unknown? In this context of doing the workout or not doing the workout, the anxious voice in my brain was like, “Whoa, you've got to do it because you're maybe not going to have time on your first day in Denver or your second day in Denver because you're going to be so busy, you're gonna be seeing people, you're gonna be doing things.” That was like a form of playing it safe.
My intuition was like, “You know what? Just trust that it's okay. Because you never can predict the future anyway. Why try to calculate it? Life is unpredictable, life is going to ebb and flow; don't live in this calculator future. Let yourself live in right now and trust that everything's gonna work out. You don't have to engage in a workout just because of this calculated future that you're fixating on.”
Another way to determine whether you're making an anxious decision or an intuitive decision is your intuition will always invite you to grow. Your intuition will always invite you to challenge yourself. And your intuition will always invite you to honor your personal values even when it feels scary whereas anxiety will just ask you to shrink. It'll ask you to keep yourself small, to play it safe, and potentially miss out on the fullness of life. In the context of “should I work out, should I not work out”, that anxious voice in my brain was like, “Play it safe by doing the workout. Do the workout and then rush through your packing.
Do the workout and then rush through your podcast recording.” Whereas my intuition was like, “Hey, honor your values. I know maybe it feels like a little uncomfortable that you're not going to be able to move your body today because that's normally something that feels really good for you. But what's more important to you, what you value more is being able to have an even-keeled pace to your move and to feel less stress on the plane and not like you're rushing and to take care of your body and rest and recover from the wedding you were out last night and challenge yourself to push back at this anxious voice in your brain that's telling you that you need to work out.”
Allow yourself to grow here by going with the flow a little bit more versus practicing rigidity and following the should voice in your head that’s saying, “You should work out.” Really, when you're making these little life decisions on a daily basis, ask yourself: “Is my deep inner wisdom, my intuition running the show? Or is my fear of the unknown, my need to play it safe running the show?” You can start to figure that out by remembering that your intuition will only ask you to step out of your comfort zone in a way that supports positive long-term growth, not in a way that's detrimental to you.
Your anxiety will often try to keep you in your comfort zone or will try to relieve tension or this sort of anxious voice in your brain in the short-term, but in a way that's ultimately harmful long-term. Your intuition is going to nudge you to place trust in the unknown. Because really, it's all unknown anyway. So we've got to trust it. Whereas anxiety will attempt to play it safe and will attempt to predict the future, even though you never really can. Your intuition will invite you to grow, it'll invite you to challenge yourself, it'll invite you to honor your values even when that feels scary. And your anxiety will ask you to shrink, to keep yourself small, to play it safe, and to probably miss out on the fullness of your life in some way.
I hope that some of these nuggets I'm sharing here are resonating with you and getting your wheels turning about some area of your life where you're having a hard time discerning, “Is my intuition making this decision or is anxiety making this decision?” And for today's processing prompt, I want to invite you to use the intuition triangle that I talked about in some area of your life that you're trying to make a decision about. Maybe it is a big life decision, like a cross-country move, or maybe it really is just a self-care decision that you need to make on a daily basis. Those are both important things. And the anxious brain is just as likely to seep in, in all of those things.
That triangle of intuition. Draw a triangle. Or mentally draw a triangle if you're feeling resistance to putting your processing prompt in a journal. On one point of the triangle, write “gut instincts”. On one point of the triangle, write “emotions”. And on one point of a triangle, write “rational thoughts”. Go through, what is my gut instinct saying? What do rational thoughts say? And what do emotions say? What is my emotional data telling me about this thing? Use that as a framework for should I work out today? Or should I move? Or should I continue dating this person?
You can practice intuitive eating. You can practice intuitive movement. You can practice intuitive dating. You can practice intuitive career building. What does my gut say about this job? What do my emotions say about this job? What do I rationally think about this job? See how that processing prompt gets things going for you. And then an actionable experiment is to make the decision. Maybe you want to practice with a small one. Because maybe you're just experimenting with this framework and using this definition of intuition.
Make one decision. Make one small life decision using this framework of emotion, instinct and rational thought and trust that, first of all, it was the best decision you could possibly make with the data that you have at the time. And trust that you're going to collect data about yourself over time using this framework of emotions, instincts and rational thoughts that eventually it's just going to come naturally. Operating from this intuition triangle is just going to be more your default rather than something that you actively have to pull over and do.
Do not be hard on yourself if you feel like you're having a hard time making decisions. You have to collect data about yourself over time to learn what your emotional data feels like, to learn what your gut instincts feel like, and to learn what rational thoughts are most rational for you truly. Give yourself time to discern intuition from anxiety, to learn to discern intuition from anxiety. As someone who's healed from an anxiety disorder and from disordered eating, it took me a while to feel anchored in my intuition.
Of course, the biggest challenge I faced in this time was, “Is my tuition making this decision about food, about staying or leaving a relationship, about anything really? Or is my anxiety making this decision.” Getting grounded in your intuition will take time. And it's going to look a little different for everyone. But I hope that the tools that I gave you today are going to help you in this process.
Your processing prompt is to draw that triangle and to collect the data in the three different categories. And then your experiment is to try to make at least one decision using that intuition framework and see what you learn about yourself from that. Because we're talking about decisions today, I want to leave you with one more thing that I hope helps you relieve a little bit of tension around this concept of decision-making.
I was lucky enough to have a Reiki session and energy healing session with a friend of mine this morning. I told her that before I moved, I was feeling like I really needed a little bit of space to just like do a sound meditation and take care of myself and do some form of holistic self-care. My friend is a Reiki practitioner, so she got on Zoom with me and did this really nice meditation just for me and played a sound meditation and gave me a little energy clearing practice. It was so nice. And also, for some reason, she felt intuitively called to share this quote with me.
I thought it was so cool that she felt called to share this quote with me because it's about decision-making. And what I'm talking about on this episode is decision-making. I feel like it's a great thing for me to close this episode with because as you're moving through your life, trying to decide if intuition is running the show or if anxiety is running the show, you can give yourself some compassionate reassurance that you can't make the wrong decision by remembering this quote.
The quote is, “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.”
I’d like to leave you with that reminder because remember that as you're learning to identify your intuition from your anxiety, sometimes you are going to make decisions that don't necessarily lead you to the place you want it to get to. But that decision will lead you to a learning opportunity. That decision will lead you to learning about yourself and about your emotions and about your gut instincts and about your rational thoughts in a way that allows you to approach the next decision differently. Release the pressure to make every decision the “right decision” because there is no right and wrong. There's just a series of possibilities of learning opportunities that open up with every action that you take in every decision that you make.
There isn't this one agenda that the universe wants you to follow and you're supposed to white knuckle your way through the decision making process and figure out what the exact right decision is. The making of the decision is the thing that allows you to take the next step towards the next thing. If everything happened overnight, if everything just worked out in our lives with one split decision in the way that it was supposed to just like magically, then we'd never have opportunities to learn about ourselves and learn about the world around us and to really experience life.
I feel like I'm flowing into a stream of consciousness situation right now. But I do hope that if you're listening to this episode and you're thinking, “Is intuition making my decision or is anxiety making my decision? I don't know. I just want to make the right decision”, be compassionate with yourself. Remember that every time you make the decision is an opportunity to learn about whether intuition was making the decision or if anxiety was making the decision and to move forward into the next decision differently.
Remember that every decision that you make opens up another door to a new set of possibilities and a new set of experiences. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong; there is just an opportunity to choose and then to learn.
Wherever you are right now, I hope that you're having a day that is exactly what you need it to be. I hope that you can take a really, really deep breath. Don't forget to exhale all the way. I hope that you'll share with me your thoughts about this concept of intuition versus anxiety. I look forward to connecting with you again next week for a special episode with another guest. See you back here soon.