Is It My Imagination or Is It My Intuition? How to Tell the Difference
When I was a young child, I had a vivid imagination. I would take journeys into several different worlds and talk to all sorts of “imaginary” friends. I also could write incredible stories, weaving words into fun adventures that appealed to my seven-year-old mind. However, as I got older I began to lose that imagination.
I was also known for my insightful ability to read into people at a very young age. My parents would often say, “Ask Jana – she’ll tell you if we should trust that person or not!” This happened often until I reached my teenage years. My intuition, as a young child, was always sharp as were my telepathic skills.
However, I “lost” both my vivid imagination and my intuition when I became a teenager. I remember distinctly feeling empty without either of these inner skills being present anymore. I can’t explain what happened and why I lost these skills.
But, in the past seven years, as I explored and grew my spiritual connection, I began to re-discover both my vivid imagination and my intuitive abilities again.
What is Imagination and What is Intuition?
When I started to tap into my inner resources again the big question was, ‘What is the difference between my imagination and my intuition?” When I started meditation, I would have long conversations with my spirit guides unfolding in my mind and it bothered me.
Was it my vivid imagination playing games with me or was I really having wonderful conversations with my spirit guides?
Distinguishing the difference was frustrating until one day, a master meditator said two things:
Don’t doubt yourself when you hear voices in your head during meditation.
Have faith that the first thing that’s said to you is coming from Spirit/God/whoever it is you’re asking for guidance and advice.
The minute I learned to drop the doubt, I was able to quickly determine whether it was me chatting to me using my imagination or me tapping into my intuitive soul. It’s about trusting yourself and believing in your soul's voice.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines imagination as follows:
The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.
A creation of the mind.
The thinking or active mind.
Your Dictionary defines intuition as follows:
An immediate understanding or knowing something without reasoning.
The faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof.
An impression or insight gained by the use of this faculty.
I call my intuition my sixth sense or gut feeling. It’s a “knowing” that comes immediately, often out of nowhere, but I take it as the truth. Everyone has access to their soul or inner voice. It just requires being open to it and trusting yourself.
To receive divine guidance, you need to use your intuitive skill. Some people call it being psychic. Whatever you want to call it, that inner voice is a response to the questions you’re asking guidance for.
Why Do We Question Our Intuition?
How often do you find yourself hearing or seeing something and then quickly shrugging it off as, “There goes my wild imagination again!!!”? Why do we question our intuition? Both your imagination and intuition use the same medium – your mind. And, they both follow similar sensory patterns.
When you’re using your imagination, you’re tapping into the creative center of your mind which is full of words, images, sounds, and memories all based on your personal experiences.
The same creative center is used to interpret your intuition. However, this time the universe, your soul, Higher Being, or spirit guides are telling you the story using the resources available in your mind’s creative center.
This creation happens in a split second and this is when you start to question our intuition. Was it really information coming through from vibrational energies? Or, was it your vivid imagination having a field day in your creative center?
How to Receive Intuitive Messages
One of the best ways of receiving intuitive messages is through meditation or being silent. Praying is another way of receiving divine guidance. Reaching out and asking your spirit guide, God, or Higher Being requires tapping into your intuition to hear and interpret the messages being sent to you. I often get intuitive information just before I go to sleep. These often come in the form of images.
Each one of us uses a different method to receive intuitive information which comes in form of energetic vibrations.
You could be:
Clairsentience: You’re sensitive to and recognized different feelings. If you can rely on your “gut instincts”, can pick up on other people’s emotions easily, or can walk into a room and immediately “feel” the energy, then you’re clairsentience.
Clairvoyant: Your ability to see images created by the vibratory form is a sign that you’re clairvoyant. These images often pop into your mind, out of the blue, and you’ve learned to translate their symbolic meanings about certain people or situations.
Clairaudient: While I often get clairvoyant images, my clairaudient skill is highly active. This is having the ability to hear voices in my mind. When I work with clients, I will often hear a short message that I must share with them. I’ve learned to trust these messages as they always resonate with my clients.
When using your intuition, the key factor is to NEVER doubt it. I learned to stop questioning everything I heard during my meditations. If a voice popped into my mind while I was working with a client, I spoke the words out immediately instead of holding back. Every time, what I said astounded my client and made a huge impact on them as being the truth.
However, if you still find yourself doubting then ask yourself the following questions:
Did I hear or see or feel the information or message immediately without any time for imagination to play a role?
Do I feel a deep connection, on a soul level, with the information being relayed to you? Does it resonate with you?
Did the message suddenly come out of nowhere? Did it lead to more information without me letting my imagination take over?
If you’re emotionally caught up in the information being relayed to you, then it could be your imagination. So, be aware of how your emotions may be playing a role in the information you’re trying to interpret.
Read this book by Amisha Ghadiali, "Intuition: Access Your Inner Wisdom. Trust Your Instincts. Find Your Path." for more tips on how to tap grown your intuition.
When Is Your Intuition Strongest?
Your intuition is always strongest when the following is happening:
You’re In the presence of your loved ones.
Doing what you love doing (e.g., my intuition is heightened when I’m doing tarot readings or working with coaching clients)
When you're in danger.
Your energy vibrations are elevated during these times which means your intuition is fully tuned in.
5 Ways to Confirm It’s Your Intuition Talking
Here are five ways to confirm it’s your intuition talking and not your imagination.
1. Practice Your Intuition
Practice with your intuition by taking action when the message gives you something to do. If the result is correct, then you’ve been listening to your intuition. Don’t be disheartened if you get it wrong sometimes. Practice, practice, practice.
2. Recognize the Feeling
Intuitive information has a certain “vibration” to it. This is also recognized as a “feeling” or simply as a “knowing” that you’re receiving intuitive messages and it’s not your imagination. I learned to recognize this feeling when I was doing tarot readings. I was able to, very quickly, pick up on the “energy” accompanying the message and identify it as my intuition working.
3. Listen to Your Emotions
Very much like the feeling mentioned above, I rely on my emotions to tell me if it’s my intuition talking or my imagination taking over. When the message or information doesn’t feel “emotionally” right then I know it’s my imagination. I feel good when I convey the right messages and I feel wrong when the message feels off-kilter.
3. Hear the Tone and Words of the Voice
If the voice is gentle, even-toned, and consistent, then you can be sure it’s your intuition clicking in. However, if you hear the voice as being angry, elevated, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it’s your imagination (and your ego) talking. An intuitive voice is loving and full of guidance. It would never scold you, belittle you, or make you feel like a bad person.
4. It’s Clear and Concise
Intuitive information is always clear and concise. Imaginative information is often vague and doesn’t make sense to you, especially when you're asking for specific help or guidance. If the information you’re getting is completely off-track, then it’s best to ignore it and treat it as your imagination.
5. It’s Not Prescriptive
Your intuition will never tell you what you HAVE to do. While intuitive messages are always full of wisdom and guidance, and at times, suggestions are made on what you could do to take action, you should never feel coerced into doing something. Your spirit guides, Higher Being, or God knows you have a free will to make your own choices.
I know I am using my intuitive abilities when I recognize “that” feeling and a thought suddenly pops into my mind for no reason at all. I’ve learned to recognize my intuitive voice compared to my imaginative voice which is often more demanding and strident! I have no doubt whenever I get a vision – that’s intuitive information flowing through me and it’s always proved right down the line.
While scary at times, tapping into my intuition is an exciting and wonderful tool when doing healing work or trying to unpack a puzzle. It allows me to stay spiritually connected on all levels and convey the correct messages to my clients and anyone else I'm working with.
Everyone has this ability and the more you practice and trust your intuition, the more empowered you become.
This post was originally updated on June 6th, 2021, and updated on March 30th. 2022.
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