The HSP World Podcast Ep. 16: Are We Overthinking Our Intuition?

Thomas: Hi and welcome to The HSP World Podcast. With each episode we invite a guest with the HSP Trait to have a conversation about a burning HSP-related question they have. We’re not coaches or therapists. We’re HSPs holding space with you, and I’m one of your hosts, Thomas. Your other hosts are:

Robyn: Robyn, 

Rayne: and Rayne.

Robyn: Welcome back everybody to another episode. With us today, we have Lynn. Hi Lynn.

Lynn: Hi.

Robyn: How’re you doing?

Lynn: I’m good.

Robyn: Lynn maybe you can get us started by sharing a little bit of your HSP story. How did you find out about the Trait?

Lynn: Right. Uh, okay. So hi, everyone listening. I’m Lynn from Malaysia. I discovered the HSP Trait, or rather than name itself when I was in my early twenties. At first, I came across the word empath when I was like searching for why I am the way I am. And then there was I believe a subsequent article by the same author that explained the difference between empaths and HSPs.

And then that was when I felt validated for the first time in my life. And, but it wasn’t until I think 2015 or something that I bought the book by Elaine Aron and read it. And it was just a joy to read. So yeah!

Robyn: Cool. Thanks. Um, so, okay, so you went through it, uh, first by talking about, uh, or looking at empaths. Okay. Yeah. It’s not exactly the same concept, but there is some overlap. Cool. So I believe you have a question for us around intuition today. Could you say a little bit more?

Lynn: Yeah. I have been wondering for a long time how we can learn to recognize when we’re having an intuitive nudge, versus like, our, brain is telling us to, you know, be rational and to go down this path rather than, yeah. So basically, uh, how do I say this? Yeah. How to differentiate between your head and your heart, because it’s something that I’ve had a lot of trouble with throughout my life, especially culturally, when I’ve been brought up to just be very logical, very  emotions-not-allowed, you know, that sort of thing. So, yeah. I’d love to explore that in this session.

Thomas: That’s a great question.

Robyn: Yeah.

Thomas: Yeah. Thank you.

Robyn: And I think you were also mentioning when we spoke a little bit before that it’s your, it’s your intuition, but I think it has been said many times before that, um, many HSPs feel that they have a strong, they get strong, intuitive messages, or they feel that they have strong senses that kind of push them in one direction or to act one way or the form one opinion or another.

And that it’s not always, so really what we would yeah, what we would call an, intuitive response to something. Um, yeah.

Rayne: And can, can I ask you, Lynn, what, what makes you ask this question? If, if, if I can, if I can ask, has, has there been, you were mentioning there were times where you felt like you followed your intuition and things didn’t kind of turn out so great.

Lynn: Yeah, where do I start? Okay. So for example, when it comes to my, what I would deem my life purpose, I guess, it’s something that I’m sure everyone I can really relate to. Like, we’re all trying fumbling around trying to find, find out why we’re here in this planet. And I, for the longest time, I think since childhood I’ve always had this sort of, I call it this little ball of light just kind of guiding me, just pulling me to what, something that I can’t quite explain.

And yeah so far it’s drawn me towards performing arts. Like that I would say, has been the love of my life and particularly musical theater and singing and things like that performing. So I have decided to follow this intuitive nudge because it still hasn’t left me after decades.

You know, it’s been following me around and every time I perform this, this joy, that just doesn’t… I, I can’t explain it, it’s the happiest I have ever been.

Rayne:  So positive, positive experiences following your intuition then?

Lynn: Yeah. Yeah. So there’s just the positive, but on the other hand, I’ve been lucky enough, I guess, to have had some experiences whilst fault while I was following my intuition regarding my life’s purpose and my love for performing arts. But, in pursuing it, I’ve been met with so many blocks that I’ve had to take multiple breaks.

And it’s just, you know, I’ve had so many nights where, and days and nights where I just question, why was I given this“gift”? If, if I can’t you know manifest it into being and why are there so many blocks?

So, yeah, so I, I guess that’s, uh, a good way to put it. So on one hand I got to experience the joy and it’s like deep, deep inside my heart I know, yes! This is what I’m supposed to be doing. But on the other hand, the outside world is like, no, you can’t make money. Um, you’re well, I’m Chinese and I’m Malaysian. So it’s like, no, you can’t do that. We only do careers that make money here. So, yeah, does that help?

Robyn: Uh, Lynn, thank you so much for describing it this way. Like I think, um, I appreciate the way that you render the struggle, the way you’ve articulated it. I was kinda nodding along to some of the ways that you framed your story.

This tension between, okay, intuition and what we would think of as more like, you know, factual or rational approaches, and this idea that your, maybe your artistic creative side is at odds with what a lot of social pressures would have you do, or even just, you know, real material pressures as well.

Yeah. And this, this self doubt, the self doubt and also the flipping between joy and, and confusion and difficulty, right? Cause there are lots of moments where you’re like, huh, I followed my intuition or my intuition has brought me someplace beautiful.

You know, I think I can relate to that idea, but then having lots of moments of doubting and just feeling lost. Rayne I know you’ve thought a lot about this one. I’d love to hear. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Rayne: Um well, I, you know, I think for me there’s almost this expectation… I mean, it, it feels to me like the, the outside world seems to… This sounds so weird. The outside world seems to feel like intuition will always lead you to beautiful places.

You know, happiness, you know, that kind of thing. But, um, that’s not been my experience and I’m very, very grateful for that.

Because first and foremost, like you, Lynn I’ve known about my intuition, you know, for a long time and it’s one of those things and it’s, it’s not a very well, I, I’m not sure what, I guess it’s not common. But I guess I always knew that, um, this life is not my final destination.

You know, like I came in, I came here to learn, you know, I came here to experience and to learn and to continue growing my soul. And that’s, you know, that’s not always fun. You know? It’s just not, um, but it’s like learning to ride a bike. You know, you fall off a lot in the beginning and you scrape yourself and you have scabs, you know, and it hurts, right? 

But you end up getting really good at it, you know, the more you practice. And that’s how it, that’s how it feels to me. Um, that there’s so much growth. And I guess for me, I just, I don’t know. I don’t really, I don’t really think about how, how it looks from the outside looking in. Like, I know it looks odd.

Like if somebody, you know, if, if, you know, if I were to talk about my life, I know someone would be like, Holy cow, you know, that’s such a different thing to do or different way to go about things. But for me my intuition is closely, very, very closely tied to my relationship with, I don’t know what people want to call, if you want to call it God or the universe, or, I call it The Light, you know.

And, you know, if, if I, if I didn’t have anything to learn, it wouldn’t be difficult. It wouldn’t be a challenge, you know, and that would be really boring. 

So, so it’s, it’s kind of, and there’s so much, so much beauty and richness and diversity and  polarity and juxtapositions and, uh, irony and humor and, you know, all kinds of things. That it’s, I just find it very, very interesting, very interesting, because there’s, there’s so much to learn. You know, I there’s just it’s… to me, it sort of feels like, um, stairs that go up.

But there’s, there’s no end, you know, it just, it just keeps going up and up and up and up and up. And you can stop and sit on the steps here and there and take breaks and you know, do what you need to do.

But I, I really do believe that, you know, especially when you’re, when you’re trying to find, because those nudges that my intuition gives, and they’re always quiet. They’re always really quiet, but they they boom, if that makes sense, you know, they’re very quiet, but they’re very strong messages that it’s sort of like, you know…

And you have a choice, you don’t have to listen, you know, to your intuition, you don’t have to. But, for me, I’ve found that it’s, it’s helped me immensely towards moving closer and closer to the things I love to do, the people I love to spend time with, the, you know, the subjects I want to explore, you know, that kind of thing. So I don’t know if any of that made sense. I know I look at things a little differently. So.

Lynn: That’s great.

Rayne:  How about you, Thomas?

Thomas: Wow. So much to say so much to talk about. I mean, this is such a great topic.

Robyn: We’re all processing, I think.

Thomas: That’s what I wanted to that’s what I wanted to talk about is that, you know, HSPs have a tendency to overthink and overprocess. We get in our heads adds a lot and, and sometimes we mistake that for intuition. Right?

I tend to think of intuition, when I think about my intuition, I tend to think of it as a compass, as like a pointing, and I’m always looking for my intuition to point North, you know, to my, my true North. But I tend to treat it just as that. It’s like, okay, the compass is pointing this way so that’s where I need to look further. I need to explore further.

But I know that I tend to overthink so much. And that will lead me astray sometimes. Right? So part of what I’ve been doing is doing a meditation practice to quiet that part of me down, and I guess to relax a little bit about my intuition. If I, if I can put it that way.

One thing I wanted to respond to you Lynn, about is this sort of tension between art and rationality, and science and making money and all that kind of stuff. You know what I’m hearing as I’m doing, as I’m researching what I’m doing is there’s definitely a change happening where liberal arts is becoming a much more respected and desired, even in, in certain companies, they’re looking for more liberal arts majors and people who are in, in the arts, because what they’re finding is, is that it’s great to have somebody who’s more well-rounded in terms of their skills and their, their disciplines and things like that.

So I just wanted to say is like, you know, keep that in mind when people come to you and say, well, you know, that’s, that’s not something that, you know, you can’t make money in arts. That’s absolutely not true. You know? So, you call it the ball of light. And I would definitely pay attention to that ball of light.

I mean, if that’s what lights, you up, that’s what you are meant to do. I mean, in my opinion, so… 

Robyn: Can I come back to something you said Thomas? About, I want to bring up the word overthinking.

It’s interesting because I’m starting to think differently about overthinking. I often used to bristle at that term when people would tell me, Oh, you’re overthinking. because I think sometimes that word gets levelled against HSPs for having any kind of sensitive reaction.

So I think there’s there’s moments when we might tell ourselves or other people might tell ourselves that we’re overthinking when, when we’re not, we’re just having a more deeper or more extensive response to a situation. But I think there are moments that I would generally genuinely qualify as overthinking.

And I suspect that it’s the moments where I’m having a battle between my more intuitive side and what reason might tell me to do, right? And I don’t like dichotomies. I don’t like pitting reason and emotion against each other because they actually aren’t, they don’t work that way.

We’re not designed to… This is a very old trope in, in philosophy and psychology that, you know, a well functioning, high functioning person is someone who beats their emotions into submission under their reason, right? Like this is a kind of classical view of that. And it’s not… um, uh, I don’t think it’s accurate and I don’t think it’s helpful.

So reason and emotion should be working in concert with each other. And I think… Now I’ll just speak for myself. But I think my moments of overthinking really come from when I recognize that my intuition is showing me things, not like pushing me in a direction, not necessarily telling me to act on something. Right?

Um, every once in a while I do have an intuition that says, you know, do this, or don’t do that.  When it’s very strong then, okay, I’ve learned if I get a strong, clear sense, I really have to heed it, but it’s rare. Often it’s more like a subtle nudge, like just telling me. And I think this is how you really feel about this, or I’m not, I’m not convinced about this path for you. Right?

And I think what I’m trying to learn to do is to at least give the intuitive voice sufficient space to make its opinion known. And to take it very seriously. So I recently had a couple of choices where I felt my intuition was pushing me in one way. And let’s say logic or reason would push me more in another direction.

And, um, both decisions I think worked out fairly well. I’m actually happy with the way they’ve worked out or at least I don’t know how the workout, but the decision that I took and my first step really was to fully entertain the intuition. Was to give like a full day of saying like, huh, you know what, maybe I’m going to say, uh, I know this looks crazy, but this is what I want to do.

So to really explore that, to really say, you know, where is this coming from? Why is this happening? And then I kind of went back to the other side and I said, Hmm, okay, well, what would it look like for me if I didn’t go with the path that my intuition is telling me, “Uh, I think you want this, right?”

And it’s interesting, I think the result, because actually in both cases, I ended up taking the path that I think would be recommended by a logical perspective. But I don’t have the same perspective that I may have had I not given so much room to the intuition. Right? So like, cause now I find myself in these situations and I’m like, huh, I understand what my intuition was warning me about.

I understand what the hesitation was for me to be here. So I don’t, like, I think at the end of the day, it was right for me to take these situations, basically I’m ending up in, you know, imperfect situations that don’t serve all my needs, but because I was able to fully voice the need that was not being met necessarily.

I don’t inhabit these choices in the same way. So like, I’m not going to…  I’m not in resignation, for example, I’m not saying, well, that’s just how life is and I can’t heed my intuition and Oh, well. I’m telling myself I’m doing this for a specific purpose. I know it’s not going to fulfill all my needs.

And I know I have to be attuned for moments in other ways and openings. And I also didn’t think that these would block me from following the more intuitive path. That would be another reason, that’d be another moment where I would say, “You know what? Intuition is more important here.” If I felt I was somehow cutting myself off of it forever. Then I would say, let’s go, okay. You know, let me… 

So I dunno, it’s a little bit about balance. It’s a little bit about just listening, right? I, and I think, correct me if I’m wrong, Rayne, but I think sometimes when you’ve described your interaction with your intuitive side, it’s not always telling you what to do, but it’s asking you to listen to something or to be aware of something, is that right?

Lynn: Yeah, I was just about to, uh, after, after listening to each of you speak, I wanted to touch on emotion and how that ties in with intuition. So HSPs are known to feel very strongly about things and have very, very strong like waves of emotion.

So, for me in particular, like I mentioned earlier, it comes with either like strong red flags I get this like pit in my stomach. And when it comes to positive things, I feel, uh, you know light and happy and excited. 

So with regards to your intuition, how do you know, um, because, uh, I think for me, okay.

I’m going to touch on something else here where I find my intuition to be very, very well practiced or it’s something that I don’t even have to think about, when it comes to people for example.

And I think, again, this is something that a lot of HSPs can relate to when it comes to reading people. We are so good at it. We can see right through the BS you know, like if someone’s putting on a front, if someone’s lying, it’s just people who aren’t as sensitive they’ve they would miss it, you know, like the red flags, the subtle micro-expressions or changes in tone and things like that.

And whereas for me, it’s just, I can just see right through people. And I have found that that has scared a lot of people away because they don’t like to be seen. People don’t like to be seen. And that’s, that’s always frustrated and also confused me. It’s like, why? Why not? Why, why wouldn’t you like to be seen as you are and not the, the mask that you put on everyday?

Rayne: Yeah, for sure. I think it’s, it’s really important… I know for me, it was a phase I kind of went through when I realized that was something. But it’s also about, um, you know, we wear masks when we’re hiding shame or guilt or fear, you know, anything like that. Right?

And, um, like that, that’s how I feel. And it’s once, you know, and those are difficult emotions and growth periods for people to go through. So, and you know, if they haven’t, and, and sometimes that’s, you know, maybe a clue for us to, to look at ourselves at where, you know, maybe if we’re seeing it so easily with other people, maybe that’s something for us to look at, you know, within ourselves.

Um, and look at where we can heal. You know, it’s an opportunity for us to heal those things within ourselves. Right? Because that will just lighten our spirit more, you know? It’s, it’s an opportunity for growth.

So that’s sort of, that’s kind of how I feel about, about that.

For me, Robyn, I, I was listening to it what you were talking about. And I don’t know, there’ve been quite a few times where my intuition has acted on like instinct. Like it was completely opposite to what logic would have dictated.

But it was very, a very snap, you know, a very quick, thing, and it turned out to be the right thing, you know, but it wouldn’t have been anything… I mean, if I would have sat and thought about it, there’s no way I would’ve come up with whatever it was, you know, whatever that intuition was, was telling me.

So. I get what you’re saying though, about the overthinking, because like you were saying, and, and you too, Thomas, it really is drilled into us to be logical. You know, and always come up with logical, solutions and things like that.

But life is not a logical. Life is organized chaos. You know, that’s kind of what it is, you know? That’s… so.

Robyn: Yeah, well, I mean, and I can, I can vouch as well that there are moments where I did not take the more “rational” path and followed a certain intuition and it paid off.  There are definitely some moments where I did that. I think my point was just that I’m, I’m experimenting with this, but I think that we can kind of ease up on the overthinking by making sure that we fully allow intuition to have a voice.

I could almost see it like a council of advisors. Right? And intuition has to have a prime place right alongside with reason. And then I guess the more practiced you become at listening to your intuition, the more, you know when intuition is telling you something that you absolutely, you know, can act on right away without even looking at anything else. Right?

It’s still new for me to look at it this way. So I, I don’t, there, there are some moments where I’ll do it really on a very fast, where that process will be fast for me. But in general, I still need to take a little bit of time to just sit with them and unpack them.

Cause I mean, the other thing too is I don’t, I don’t always understand what my intuition is telling me, so that’s, I think that’s another reason why it’s good to  listen and to engage the intuition in almost in dialogue. 

There are some some people who talk about like doing dream work. Right? Where they talk about there’s certain figures in your dreams that might appear, and you can almost have a conversation with them?

So, that for me is one thing that, I mean, this won’t be true for everybody, but I do sometimes take, if I notice I’m having strong recurring themes or characters in my dreams, I will sometimes take that as an intuitive sign of, you know, something that’s important to me or a direction that I’m being pushed towards or away from.

And I think again, like taking it seriously and, and giving it as much of a vote, if not more than than reason and logic, again, I don’t know if I’d be prepared to say I would, I would live only on my intuition. That seems I… I’ve had conversations with people about this…

I had a friend who said he made it, he made it, he gave himself a personal experiment to follow his intuition unyieldingly only for like two years.

Thomas:  Oh wow! 

Robyn: Yeah, it was really intense to watch it. I was like, wow, you’re brave, man. Really brave. But I remember thinking like, I’m not ready to do that myself, you know, and I’m still not there.

Um, but I have progressed to the point where I’m… I deeply value that side of things. And I, I.. this is how I’ve come to see it is that if you don’t listen to it, it’s going to just keep coming. It’s kind of like pain, right? Pain is a physical messenger from your body telling you that something’s not right.

And, you know, you don’t have to always to feel dictated by pain, right? There’s certain like if you go to the gym and you’re a bit sore, like the conclusion is not, well, I’m never going to the gym again. Right? But you do have to take that pain seriously. You do have to think, well, Why, you know, maybe my technique is not right, or maybe I pushed myself too hard.

And I think like an intuition, if you ignore pain, it’s just going to keep coming back stronger and stronger. So either you listen to it now and do what you gotta do, or you pay the price when it’s very strong and debilitating. Right? So I think that’s where, I think that’s where I’m at personally with my intuition.

Thomas: You know, this conversation reminds me of a book that I read a while ago called A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity and he talks about the importance of listening to the various voices in your mind, and he likens it to this; he says, there’s the continent, which is like the editor, the logical part. And then there’s all these different islands that you have inside that want to speak up and tell you things.

But the continent or the editor sorta shuts them down, right? Because it’s, he’s sort of like control the controlling… you know, it’s like, “Nope, we’re not going to talk about that.” The book is about writing, about creative writing. So he talks about this in a way to release your creativity.

I do something similar. When I need to surface something that, when I’m doing whatever it is, whatever task it is, whether it’s a creative task or something for my work, for client work, I use a mindmap.

And the idea behind the mindmap is that you start with a topic and then you really rapidly start writing down everything that comes up in your mind without filtering, without editing. And so in a way, that’s, I think that’s what we’re speaking to is, is to listen to the wisdom that’s already there. And intuition is part of that wisdom.

Robyn: Yes.

Rayne: It’s really your heart. It’s really listening to your heart. Right? Which is, which is a muscle, just like our brain. Right? And just because we’ve been taught to rely and mostly, you know, use our brain, um, you know, as opposed to our heart, it does it, it, it’s, it’s like you have to practice using your heart, you know?

Thomas:  You have to practice turning off the editor, the logic, the logical part, not, not that the logical part is bad or anything, it’s just that it, you know, it takes shortcuts. It’s like, you know, the, the editor has like learned over the years, this is the way to do things. And that’s, that’s oftentimes not useful because you don’t want to always be taking those shortcuts.

Robyn: Well, it’s only one perspective, right? So I think, I think what intuition, listening to intuition and making room for it, what it does is it gives you access to something much fuller and truer to you, you know. So…

Thomas: Well Lynn, I want to thank you for today’s conversation. And I’m curious how you feel about it? Were there some points that resonated with you?

Lynn: Yeah, for sure. It’s been interesting to hear all your different perspectives and it’s given me some food for thought as well. Thank you for having me. It’s been exciting.

Thomas: Well, thank you for joining us.

Rayne: Thank you very much Lynn. I feel like we could have talked about this for a lot longer. There’s so many, so many facets to it, you know, expectations around it, all kinds of things. So thank you so much for, for, you know, bringing this up. I think it’s gonna, it’s gonna open, open things up for, you know, at least more conversations to be had about it. So thank you. 

Lynn: Thank you.

Robyn: Yeah, I agree. I think this was a very important one. So thank you so much everybody. And thank you to our listeners. Please join us for our next episode where we’ll be having another interesting HSP conversation.

And to any Highly Sensitives out there who have a burning HSP-related question, big or small, we invite you to ask it on The HSP World Podcast.

Just email info@hsp.world. And a friendly reminder to visit the HSP world website at hsp.world.

 

Photo credit by diane.grytsku

 

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