How to Tell When Your Premonitions Are Real

Many people get premonitions, from the ordinary to the life changing. A week before the World Trade Towers were hit, I dreamed I was in one of the towers rushing about looking for an escape. There was a hole in the side and a dizzying drop below. People were rushing about trying to find a way down in the vast building. The dream was vivid, a quality I’ve come to associate with prophetic dreams.

Some premonitions are more ordinary and less emotion-infused. Yesterday morning  I was making coffee when  a client popped into my mind, someone I haven’t spoken to in years. This thought tells me she is thinking about me and will probably contact me, and sure enough, I get an email today. It tells me that we are receiving thoughts from people long before they actually contact us.  I have to wonder if I’m sending something to them too, like healing or a warm embrace.

Everyone including you, is hardwired with the ability to sense the future.  So even if you aren’t aware it, you have probably have had intuitive signals coming to you that get mixed in with your other thoughts. The more you become aware of the possibility of having premonitions, the more you will notice them happening to you.

Premonitions are part of our evolutionary advantage. Cornell professor Daryl Bem, one of the most respected social scientists of his generation, has been studying psychic ability in ordinary people for 20 years. His studies show that the average person does in fact sense the future before it happens. He noticed that men are especially adept at sensing future sexual opportunities and women at sensing future danger.   He calls this capacity an evolutionary advantage that has enabled our species to survive. In other words, we might not have made it as a species these 200,000 years without men’s exceptional  ability to sense reproductive advantage  or women’s ability to sense danger to themselves and their young.

The Difference between true premonitions and anxiety.  As security specialist Gavin DeBekker pointed out in his book, the Gift of Fear, when you are really in danger, there is a powerful knowing that fills you and directs you.  Signs of resonance will arise in your nervous system, like goosebumps,  hairs standing on end, or chills. You will become hyper alert, and you may feel that someone is guiding you through the danger.

The rest of the time, what you are feeling might be unnecessary worry, neurotic fears, or just plain anxiety.  Anxiety is energy in your body that has nowhere to go. You’re like a horse in the starting gate. It is not necessarily psychic.  More likely it’s an over reaction to something that originated in a trauma years before.

How can you increase your chance of having premonitions? Intuition happens when we are not distracted.  If you want to receive those signals more, then work on quieting your mind.  You do this by unplugging from the day to day stress.  Go into meditation where you are focusing more on your senses.  Take a walk or go for a jog or a swim.  Try closing your eyes and taking a nice breath right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel whatever your hands are touching; feel your feet on the ground;  and notice your breath going in and out.   You are now listening, via your body’s senses, to the energies of consciousness around you.  You now have a heightened awareness of the energies around you.

Your senses are like antenna to the world. The more you practice these moments of presence, the more intuitive you will become.  I get the strongest visions when I’ve been on a meditation retreat for several days, or when I sit in meditation before bed.  I use meditation to get visions of the future. But this is not the same as premonitions. Reading the future is a conscious process where you focus on a target, i.e., your country at a certain point in time.

Premonitions happen to you. You don’t just create them by meditating on the future.  When I get premonitions,  I try to react to them with wisdom and perspective. For that I need to be present and calm. Otherwise, I when I feel energies on the horizon, I may react to them fearfully which is not productive. In other words, if I don’t unplug and breathe, then the intuitions I get, will fly through my mind which will then take off like a runaway train.

Symbols that come in visions. Ever since I first started meditating for visions 35 years ago, I noticed that many came in symbols and metaphors.  Over time I began to understand the symbols. For example, I see a cactus as a symbol for drought. Last year I was returning to Massachusetts from Europe when  I noticed upon waking that I was seeing the cactus.  I thought, Mass in having drought. It turned out to be  true. I also see fire, rain, stock market graphs going up and down, tears (for public grieving), hearts, and square root signs for market corrections.  I also have a set of symbols for reading an individual’s personal future.  Carl Jung wrote about the symbols we get in Man and His Symbols. He suggested that we have universal symbols that we all get, cultural symbols particular to our culture, and personal symbols.

If you begin meditating for visions of the future, you are likely to also get a set of symbols.  Notice what thoughts you get when the symbols appear, and write it down.  You will learn an alphabet of consciousness.

Some people don’t see visions when they meditate on the future. Instead they hear words, or get a thought.  Whatever comes into your mind, write it down!

Dreams:  I know when I’m having a prophetic dream because it is particularly vivid and doesn’t seem to apply to my life. For example, in April I had a horrible dream of a woman being killed in a terrorist attack.  Just the one woman, no one else. I saw her vividly on the ground, with others trying to come to her aid. It was jarring, the vision was ghastly, but I didn’t feel fear for myself.  I posted it on my website and a few weeks later a British member of Parliament was viciously murdered in the street.  My hope is that I unconsciously sent healing to her in her terrible moment.  Perhaps others also felt the event before it happened and also sent soothing thoughts to her. But the reason for my seeing her tragedy is a mystery.  We are all connected, so her pain is everyone’s pain.

When we are dreaming, our intuition is not drowned out by everyday noise of people’s thoughts. When we are awake, there is a non stop ticker tape of thinking flowing through our heads, most of it is just junk we expose ourselves to in books, the Internet, and the media.

Most of the dreams we have are about our own lives. When it’s a prophetic dream about the world, it may feel different. You may feel like an observer. But this distinction is tricky since you are part of the world, and even when a dream is just about you, you can experience yourself as an observer.   The best way to tell the difference is to keep a dream diary and start checking it over time for accuracy.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.



About the Author:

Jeanne Mayell is a professional intuitive and author who gives private life readings and offers tools to help people develop their psychic abilities. In 2015, Mayell was named by Coast to Coast AM radio as one of America’s most gifted Tarot readers. Holding Master Degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an MA in Counseling Psychology from Framingham State University, and published in The Atlantic and other national journals, she is not only a gifted intuitive, but brings an academic and intellectual perspective to the world of psychic readings and intuition training. Sensing that an era of profound and accelerated change is upon us, Mayell has been teaching people to expand the intuitive gifts we are all born with. In this way, we will be able to navigate the coming changes for ourselves, our families and others. She teaches classes in Tarot, Prophecy, Positive Psychology, and mindfulness — all ways to find inner guidance. Mayell has also worked as a health writer (Atlantic Monthly, American Health Magazine, and EastWest Journal), and was the Massachusetts Medicaid Director, a policy analyst for the City of New York’s health and welfare programs, and a research consultant on national health and welfare programs. She has co-authored two books on health and welfare and is currently writing a book on intuition and the Tarot.


  1. Rosalba Garcia 05/04/2019 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Well i been having premonitions dreams left and right well one of them actually happen was about my ex bf next thing u know i saw him april 12,2019 i knew he was stalking me or should i say sense his energy from the horizon in my neighborhood and long story short we hang out in the park one last time he told me he leaving the the job where i live and then he try to flirt with me so i had courage tell him we aren’t together and then before we left he say am i single i say in an hesitant way y.ea..h.Also i had another premonition dream last week about the new guy how he look like i was in his house and he was wearing red shirt and black capris pants. and yesterday i had another dream about me in the kitchen saw some random things angels from as doll and in the kitchen top cabinet was a red cardinal meaning is symbol about future romantic encounter, and good omen etc.

  2. Laura 05/03/2019 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    What do you think about premonitions or dreams that do have to do with our own lives ? I’ve had it happen but I know they say it gets trickier with our own lives

  3. Eroan 05/01/2019 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your post. As I’ve been struggling for years trying to find anything concrete to not to feel crazy or unnatural.
    But the experiences I have with premenitions are usually strange and don’t make much sense to me. Most of them come while im dreaming, usually right before I fall asleep or the short moments right after I’ve fallen asleep. When you wrote about being the “observer” it instantly clicked in my head. I remember as a child dreaming that I was flying over buildings desperately wishing I could come down and save the people in those burning buildings. As I was a child I can’t remember when this was, but I do know that it was before the towers came down. Maybe thats what I saw.
    Most of the things I dream come true in some shape or form or exactly what I saw happens but somehow with an alternative ending instead of what my dream was. It’s very rarely sad or horrible things.

    I’ve had a terrible migraine the past few days so I felt like I needed a short nap today. Twisting and turning for a few Moments then all of a sudden I felt as if something grabbed my arm and broke it. It was a dream but not like a normal one. I couldn’t see or really hear. But I could hear the bone snap. Instantly woke up in a moment of terror to check if it actually happened. Of course it didn’t.
    What’s your take on that “premenition”

  4. Melissa 04/27/2019 at 12:05 am - Reply

    I recently had a premonition about a person I had just met. I was doing my embroidery when an image of this person came into my view and they were surrounded by an inky blackness. I felt a strong sense of foreboding but I’m not sure if it was for them or from this person.

    • Chris 04/30/2019 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Two days before 911 I was standing directly under the North tower where the plane impacted. I was suddenly overcome with panic. I looked up and instinctively covered my head with my arms as if debris were falling on me. I ran and ran as fast as I could without explanation until I felt a safe distance away. I had no idea a plane would strike in two days. I was completely and utterly perplexed and frightened by what occurred. This type of incident has happened many times in my life along with other incidents where I was able to see exactly what was happening when it was happening. The north town event is the only event in my life that happened while I was fully awake.

  5. Amanda 04/18/2019 at 1:11 am - Reply

    I regularly have premonitions, prophetic dreams and intuition things. Sept 2017 I had a dream – one of THOSE – that foresaw my kids and I getting ready to leave our apt with my sister. My husband not only wasn’t present but not there. I know it was Spring based off the direction the sun came in the window. I had that dream before we moved into the apartment the dream showed. Now we live there though. Here is the crux of my problem and why I am trying to find answers at 11pm instead of sleeping. I just happened to figure out that my husband of 8 years is emotionally and mentally abusive but as I went to break up with him the other night (I am strong and wouldn’t stay in an identified abusive relationship), my intuition told me that something was off. I felt an irrepressible urge to wait for another puzzle piece, like the timing isnt right. So I dont know if he is going to die or we will break up or what is going to happen but I am super anxious as to why I should wait. I just know better than to second-guess my intuition, especially when it speaks up so strongly against something I feel strongly about.

  6. Sam Lopez 04/12/2019 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    How do you control and or decipher these ‘visions’, ‘dreams’ or I don’t know how to explain it but when talking to someone you say something out of the blue that comes true?

    • Jeanne Mayell 04/13/2019 at 11:55 pm - Reply

      You may say things without knowing cognitively about the things you say thinking and then are surprised it comes true.

      That is because your”knowing” is come from your unconscious mind. Your senses, i.e., your hearing, seeing, touch, olfactory, and emotion are constantly detecting the energy in the world, especially the collective conscience of people but also the earth and the animals. Your senses do this work automatically without your realizing it.

      So you may find that you know things Without any conscious awareness. You aren’t aware of what you sense. Then occasionally you will utter something that later comes true.

      The fact that you are seeing the the future is because we simply have this ability. Some psychologists have postulated that it’s an ability we developed in order to enable our species to survive.

      You can sense the future and the past as well as have awareness of thoughts and events far away from you. It works according to the laws of physics.

      This is not my best explanation of this phenomenon but frankly it takes more than a short post to explain it. It helps to understand the physics and the fact that humans think time is linear but it is not. Time actually changes with speed and mass.

  7. Nala 03/31/2019 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    All of what you have described has been happening to me my whole life! Sometime it has served as a warning system for me when I was willing to listen. Thank you for putting it into words.

  8. Jamie Norman 03/23/2019 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I’ve had lots of premonitions, but v rarely are they things related to me, I’ll say about something and it’ll appear in a paper. But one I had in was in front of a group of people and I was awake. We sitting in the lounge with my brother, his girlfriend and my parents, I look out of the window and see my wife’s car been broken into, rush outside and it’s all ok. The following morning I go outside and my wife car had been broken into just as I’d seen it the day before.

    I know when something bad is gonna happen, I get extreme butterflies. And when something good is gonna happen I’m buzzing. I can tell most times if I’ve bought a winning scratch card before I scratch, it just feels goods.

    All in all they’re fairly useless, you can’t do anything with them. Pretty sure our paths our mapped out already and occasionally we get glimpse of the road ahead.

  9. TRU HILL 03/17/2019 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    So I can say is I can certainly concur the stories and I can certainly see where each of them are true and I prefer to be true Beyond anything else! God bless nameste, Tru♡

  10. Mary 03/08/2019 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Very interesting read…I have been trying to find a deeper meaning to my dreams, I will sometimes have what I like to call “technicolor dreams”…mostly because they involve very random, sometimes bizarre and very colorful images. I used to chalk it up to too much sugar before bed. Once in a blue moon I will have someone who has passed away come to me in my dreams to tell me something…I think that’s probably the only time they figure I will really listen, because I’m sleeping?? I’m going to try your meditation suggestion and see if that helps. Thank you

    • Mon 04/26/2019 at 1:48 am - Reply

      I once read that souls find it easier to integrate into dreams. Also you are more susceptible to receiving message in sleep due to not being bombarded with distractions as we are in our waking life.

  11. Jane b 03/07/2019 at 2:54 am - Reply

    I at times get day vision like a day dream out of the blue can be random things like I suddenly thought of a friend having a car accident I messaged them that night and they had a car bump into the back of them .
    My husband and sister always listen to me as they have both been on the recieving end of things I’ve seen my husband lost both his parents in separate ways but both quickly and unexpected and I had visions of these things happening my husband always says if you ever have one about me please let me know .

    Yet I find it very hard to know the difference between vision and fiction .
    I search online for any one who can help guide me . But so far I haven’t found any help .

    Perhaps I just worry too much about wanting to know the difference haha

  12. Kasturai Sheena Gayadheen 02/22/2019 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Hello,I do have dreams that have most often come true,also of major natural disasters,I have dreamt of them and days later I read about it. I have also thought of people and then they have contacted me. It is all so baffling to me. This morning i had finished chant my mantra and sat outside and looked at sky. After a few seconds I found myself travelling through the universe. Then I saw a bridge like a tower and on one side of it,the water was breaking away from it. The earth was splitting and I could see the water gushing down like a waterfall. Then I heard myself say its the Thames River Bridge. I have never been to any other country before nor have I ever seen a picture of this bridge. When I googled it just now,the bridge in my premonition is the Thames River Tower Bridge. I am sure the split was on the side that faces the sea. I don’t know what to make of this. I have never been out of my country nor have I ever had any discussion about this bridge or of London. Please can you tell me if this is a premonition?

    • Jeanne Mayell 03/07/2019 at 11:08 am - Reply

      Hi Kastural, It sounds like a premonition but the only way to gain insight on your process is to track your visions through time see which ones come true. After a while, you will begin to understand how your own psyche works. I notice that the dreams I have that come true are especially vivid. But they don’t always come true literally. Often they are symbolic. Also sometimes your psyche mixes different events and you think it’s one event. The more aware you are of your own process, the more accurate you become because you pay closer attention to the visions and their quality and then you watch the outcome.

      There recently were one or two people who felt that a bridge would break but I don’t remember if they specified London. Also remember that sometimes Youtube psychics put out visions of disasters and those visions, although not accurate, start to get buzz in the collective and soon other imaginative people feel they are getting those visions too even though all are wrong.

  13. Kathleen McGreal 02/17/2019 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    I’ve been having these intuitions often lately. I saw my son’s overdose (death) about a week before it happened. I felt my daughter was struggling with alcohol and she just passed on Valentine’s Day as a result of alcohol. All of the issues surrounding Trump I began seeing the day after the election in 2016. What’s going on? Why does this happen? It’s freaking me out.

    • Bronwyn 04/08/2019 at 6:41 am - Reply

      You are not alone, I know exactly how you feel. Maybe they happen to you so that you can be strong for the others when it eventually happens. You are not weird, there are others out there exactly like you. Try talking to your priest or pastor about them. They themselves can offer more insight on them

  14. Sheene Puertollano 02/08/2019 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Hi, Im Sheene from the Philippines. Today, while i was going to the city via a van, a song on my playlist suddenly played, “We are the Fire, and we Are Coming” and then all of a sudden, we paased by this Billboard of what it seems to be an ad about fire resistant paint, with a fire on the corner. I was uneasy, thay strange feeling that something is creeping you up, yet you dont know what it meant, just the gut feeling. Right now, as we speak, my whole body is sweating, it feelins like im burning. Tried to go outside the house to check the humidty, but its cold since its already past 2 am. Im really super sleepy, but my gut says dont just yet. It also happened to me months ago, me and my colleagues went out to eat. There were five of us, and then it happened again, the uneasy feeling, the ligjts, the people around. I wasnt able to eat properly. Then is guy out of nowhere wearing black shirt with a print that says “This is the End” . I was super nervous, like my hands were shaking and my peers kept asking whats wrong with me. So i just told them I had a Hunch. Im not sure, who, when and where but Im pretty sure its one of us, so please be careful when you go home. I thought it was over because i felt reliefe. By 11pm, when I got home, I got a text from one of my peers, the one Who keeps asking if I was okay, that he and his friend was robbed, and to make matters worse, a gun was held to his forehead before taking everything they have. Good thing the culprit never pulled the trigger, othwrwise i wont be able to forgive myself. I just hope im over reacting now.

    Sorry for bothering you guys and thanks for listening.

  15. Amber Morrison 02/04/2019 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    I often have dreams of people in my life but don’t know who they are in my dreams. I guess you could say premonitions, I don’t know because whatever I dream of happens to someone else or myself or someone around me.I don’t talk about my dreams because I feel like I’m bringing bad luck upon someone or myself.My 9 year old son has expressed to me that he has dreams that comes true as well.should I start writing this stuff down?

  16. Jeanne Mayell 01/27/2019 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss. Many people see catastrophic events that happen in advance to their most beloved family members. It is bewildering and a mystery to us all. May you find peace, Kassi, and may we all surround you and your sweet daughter with angels.

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