What It Really Means To Trust Your Intuition (And Why You Should Do It)

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It can be confusing when someone tells you to “trust your intuition" — what does it mean to trust your gut? Where do you even begin? How do you know the difference between your intuition and trust issues?

Although learning to trust yourself and your intuition can be intimidating, it's important to follow the path will benefit you in the long haul.

As you begin to listen to your intuition, you'll be able to see things in your life change for the better.

So what does it really mean to trust your intuition?

Intuition is a very real psychological process where the brain uses past experiences and cues from the self and the environment to make a decision. 

RELATED: 4 Ways To Sharpen Your Intuition So You Can Trust Yourself To Make Decisions

The process exists in all of us, whether you want to believe in it or not.

The more you start practicing and learning how to cultivate your intuition, the easier it will be to implement and use it in your everyday life.

Trusting your intuition is also the same as trusting your gut. Often, gut feelings can cause emotions that may seem similar to anxiety but differ in how it affects your body.

While anxiety can cause usually negative and painful symptoms to the body, gut feelings are almost described as an internal thought or a sensation that makes you feel as if your gut is actually trying to communicate with you.

A gut feeling can range from a flash of clarity to goosebumps appearing on your skin — or it can be those constant thoughts that keep returning to a person or situation.

Gut feelings usually tend to come rather suddenly and you will feel them in a very intense manner.

It could also show up as a form of uneasiness when confronting a person or situation.

It’s almost as if your body is urging you to stop and listen.

It’s not actually your gut where the feeling comes from, but rather the gut-brain connection makes it possible for emotional experiences to register as gastrointestinal distress. 

It can be hard to understand the difference between intuition and anxiety.

Gut feelings will usually lead you in a certain direction or push you toward a decision that feels concrete. Anxiety, on the other hand, usually happens when parts of the future haven’t been worked out yet. 

RELATED: When Something Feels Off, It Is

Anxiety lingers while gut feelings usually pass once you’ve made your decision. Your intuition also gives you a sense of calmness and peace.

Your gut feeling is also very different from paranoia, which is when you have an irrational suspicion of other people or their actions.

Paranoia often shows up multiple times throughout your life and can make you feel wary or suspicious of more than just a single person or situation. Your gut feeling, though, will typically make you feel strong and confident in your decision.

When Should You Trust Your Intuition?

The best time to trust your intuition is when your feeling distrustful of someone.

It's not always easy to look for cues that someone is not being truthful — you’ll rarely find the answer in their words or the way they act.

Instead, if you have a gut feeling that a person is being deceptive or your intuition is telling you they are lying, there is a good chance that you're right.

If you’re ever in a situation that just doesn’t feel right, or doesn't sit with you, it’s also best to trust your gut. Most of the time that gut feeling you get is the right one. 

When Shouldn’t You Listen To Your Gut Feeling?

If you want to apply to a job, or start a new hobby that you genuinely believe will be good for you, but your gut is telling you otherwise, it could be a form of imposter syndrome and your inner voice is being overly critical of yourself.

Don’t let your intuition and gut feelings stop you from trying new things, especially if you also believe it will be beneficial.

A lot of our prejudices are embedded in our gut as well. It might be harmful to listen to gut feelings when encountering people who are different from you. 

Your unconscious bias will take over, which can trigger harmful beliefs. Always consider the person before you try and listen to your gut feelings, at least until that person is giving you reasons not to trust them.

RELATED: 5 Natural Instincts You Should Never Ignore, No Matter What

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.