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?