How To Trust Your Intuition When You Are Anxious

Because sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference

Deb Knobelman, PhD
6 min readFeb 3, 2021


A close friend’s stepson spent all summer desperate for a pandemic puppy.

Because I am such a dog person, I became Jake’s go-to on the topic. He researched nearby breeders and was constantly sending me adorable pictures. Finally in late August, he got lucky when a breeder told him there was one puppy remaining in the litter, did he want it?

So Jake bought puppy toys and watched You Tube videos on potty training. He felt like he was prepared. He couldn’t wait for this little bundle of fur to join his home.

I drove with him to the breeders house. The breeder brought the puppy out for us and she was adorable. Small, floppy, snuggly, with that great puppy smell. We were both in love. I nestled her in my lap while Jake drove the hour home. Although my 8 year old dog, Rosie, is the best, I will admit I was a little jealous of that fresh bundle of fluff.

Thirty six hours later, Jake called me in a panic. He had to take the puppy out a few times last night to go to the bathroom and he was exhausted, he said. It was really hard to concentrate on work with the puppy in the house. Jake was freaking out.

I told him that a puppy is a big responsibility, to be sure. It will take a few days or even weeks to adjust to the new routine. She will have a lot of needs in the beginning, like all puppies, and it can be overwhelming in the beginning. But long term, it will be worth it. There is nothing like the love that a dog brings into your life.

We hung up, and an hour later Jake called me again. He was in front of the breeder’s house. About to return the puppy. He said his intuition was telling him that this wasn’t the right time to bring a dog into his life, and he had to listen to it.

It is possible that the responsibility of the puppy was more than Jake could manage at this point in his life. That is valid — he works a lot, and puppies need so much attention in the beginning. But from his breathless voice and the speed he returned to the breeder, I could tell that it wasn’t his intuition.

It was anxiety.

The difference between intuition…



Deb Knobelman, PhD

Neuroscience. Wall Street. C-Suite. Parent. Recovering Nervous Nelly.