Can We Trust Intuition?

I like observing the wild way my mind works. I’m a fascinating case—as are we all, I suspect. I’m especially interested in intuition, where it comes from, and whether we can trust it. Usually I do trust it, though that doesn’t mean that things work out exactly as I expect.

What got me thinking about this was the recent resolution of an intuition I had months ago when I first read about the Nautilus Book Awards in a writing newsletter. The thought immediately popped into my mind, “I’m going to win that thing.” I looked up the award—saw that is was for books that “promote spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change as they stimulate the imagination and inspire the reader to new possibilities for a better world”—and thought, “I’m really going to win because those are exactly the things I hope to do in my writing.” My editor assured me that Tarcher/Penguin submits all their books to Nautilus, so there was nothing for me to do but trust and wait for the spring announcement.

Several weeks ago, I read something that made me think that the awards had already been announced. “Oh darn,” I thought, equally disappointed that I hadn’t won and that my intuition had been untrustworthy. Then, some weeks later, I saw a press release from my publisher announcing that The Wisdom to Know the Difference (and some other Tarcher books) had won the Nautilus Silver awards and were finalists for the Gold. I love it when good things happen right after I totally let go of something—which seems to happen often. I felt grateful for the honor (and that my intuition had been vindicated). 

The problem was that now I started wondering if my intuition had been fulfilled by the Silver, or if I might still win the Gold. I felt my ego get hooked by the prospect of posting the little gold icon on my website and telling people that I won an award previously won by people like Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, and the Dalai Lama. In hindsight, my ego got attached to this prospect, so I was disappointed when Nautilus posted the final results yesterday, and I was still on the silver list—something that made me wildly happy a few weeks ago. 

Partly it’s a reminder of things I already know: watch out for those ego hooks; don’t get attached to outcomes; let go of “the picture” (as Dan Gottleib put it). But it also got me thinking about intuition and what purpose it serves. What I realized yesterday morning was that my intuition about Nautilus had served its purpose. At a time when the obstacles to a little-known writer launching a book during a recession seemed formidable, that intuition brought me reassurance that “way would open,” as Quakers put it—that I would get help from the Universe, if you prefer. All that has been true. Not only does the Silver Nautilus give me a publicity boost, but two other boosts came this week, unsolicited by me. First, The book was quoted on the Huffington Post by Therese Borchard, author of the new book Beyond Blue and the popular Beyond Blue blog on Beliefnet.  Then I found that Gay Edelman, a senior editor at Family Circle, mentioned it on her blog and the site Momster. I ended up feeling that the essence of the intuition was right, though I may have jumped to conclusions about what exactly it meant.

My own experience of intuition is that it usually points in the right direction, but doesn’t give precise coordinates. I also find that premonitions that lead me to trust are usually trustworthy, while those that hook my ego or fear are usually not. I’m curious if these observations ring true to other people’s experience.

How do you know when you can trust an intuition?

2019-01-29T17:55:47+00:00May 27th, 2010|Uncategorized|


  1. Abbe May 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Eileen,

    Nice insightful post. I have been dealing with something similar except my "i" word is integrity. Interestingly, you could almost substitute the word integrity for intuition throughout your post and it would nearly be my conundrum. What I thought was my integrity, to some extent ended up being my ego (longer story than this)…or became about my ego somewhere along the way, mostly without me being aware of the change.

    re: your question, How do you know when you can trust an intuition?. I’d like to refer you to a wonderful book called "The Wisdom to Know the Difference"…food for thought

    Congrats on the silver…you deserve it and more.


  2. Eileen Flanagan May 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Interesting correlation, Abbe. Those darn egos, huh.
    Thanks for the book recommendation!

  3. Naturalmom May 31, 2010 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Congrats on the Silver! I know what you mean about being excited by that, then disappointed by not going further; I’ve had analogous experiences. But to an "outsider", the silver sounds like a great achievement!

    I don’t know what to say about the intuition thing. I don’t feel like I have much in the way of intuition as you experience it. I seldom have flashes of "knowing" like you describe. What I have more often (still not frequently) is what is more properly called a "gut feeling", because that’s where I feel it — in my gut. It’s almost never a premonition about the future, or a sense of how things will work out. Instead, it’s usually a feeling about whether something I’m already doing (or contemplating doing) is the right or wrong path/action. It does not include any kind of feeling about how it will all turn out. My gut is usually pretty trust-worthy, I think. I wish it would speak up more often! ;o)


  4. Helen June 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    I hope you’re right! You’d better be right–! Because I derive my understanding, and my attempts to trust my intuition largely on your book…

    No pressure, of course.

  5. Eileen Flanagan June 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Oh dear, Helen. That is pressure!

  6. Lone Star Ma June 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    That has been my experience, as well – and what an ego I can have.

    Congratulations on your award!! That is so exciting!

  7. Android developers Chicago February 22, 2011 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi There,

    Yes, we should trust our intuition. I know I do. It is there and we all feel it, we should trust it.


  8. Atlanta SEO June 20, 2011 at 4:32 am - Reply


    If you know who you are, what you are capable of, and what you are called to do, you are much less likely to waste your time and energy sweating the small stuff or even the big stuff you cannot change.


Leave A Comment