When to doubt, and when to doubt our doubts

The science of intuition and how it keeps you safe and holds you back.

Have you ever had a gut feeling that you just can’t shake? A queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach or a nudging from your brain to change course, rethink your next move or proceed with caution? When do you listen to it? When do you tell it to be quiet? Were you ever wrong? It turns out that the little voice in your head is actually pretty smart but not entirely infallible. Learning how to trust your intuition while also not letting it hold you back is an incredible skill that will serve you well in the long run.

Intuition Defined:
Intuition is defined as the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. It’s the keen sense of awareness that tells you to be extra careful or mindful. It’s less of a magical hunch and more of a culmination of knowledge throughout your life. As you experience more in your life, your brain learns how to understand situations faster and make connections more efficiently, therefore increasing your intuition.

Intuition and Doubt:
Despite intuition being an incredibly useful skill, relieving on it too much may actually hold you back. Have you ever heard someone turn down an opportunity or not make a big move in their careers or personal lives because it “didn’t feel right”? While your intuition is an entirely valid reason not to do something, you need to be mindful that you aren’t using your intuition as an excuse every time doubt creeps into your mind.

Doubt is the feeling of uncertainty in yourself or a specific situation. It can be an ugly emotion to deal with because it’s so persuasive. Had a bad day at work? You must be terrible at your job. Small fight with your significant other? They must not be interested anymore. The problem arises when doubt masks itself as intuition, allowing someone to make too many decisions with doubt as their guide. Next time you’re debating a decision, think about whether you’re making a decision with your gut, or with the fear of self-doubt.

How to get yourself out of the doubt cycle:
Once you’ve determined that you’re letting doubt and not a strong sense of intuition guide your way, you need to understand how to reframe your thinking to be more confident and self-assured. Essentially, you need to start doubting your doubt. Reframing self-doubt by using the practice of cognitive reappraisal is a good tactic to help you take more risks. It sounds fancy, but cognitive reappraisal is the simple practice of reframing your thoughts as positive ones. For example, a setback at work isn’t a reason for you to think you’re bad at your job and shouldn’t go out for a promotion; it’s rather an opportunity to show your boss how you can overcome a setback and be successful.

So the next time you get that gut feeling that holds you back, take a second to determine whether it’s intuition or doubt. That extra second of contemplation can be enough for you to take a risk and come out on top.

Written by, Janessa M Borges, Clinical Social Work, Therapist, LCSW, Couples Counseling Naples. My therapeutic approach is providing support to help clients effectively address personal life challenges, help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing. When couples feel distressed & disconnected I integrate eclectic techniques offering a personalized approach tailored to each client.