Fear vs. Intuition: How do you tell the difference? Once you start to turn inward for your truth and direction, inevitably there’s the task of discerning between the narration of your fear-based ego and the divine wisdom of your intuition.
There are a few ways to tell them apart, one of which is paying attention to how the message is delivered. Fear is the chatty-cathy voice in your head carrying on and on and on. It will rarely stop talking without your conscious intervention as it presents the arguments for its position in a repeating loop, persistently trying to compel you into doing (or not doing) something.
In order to hear intuition you have to get quiet. Usually its insight is concise and to the point—on average using only a few words or a sentence or two at most. Intuition doesn’t feel like it’s trying to sell you on something, rather it’s simply connecting you to what feels like your own inherent knowing.
You can make room for accessing intuition more readily through the process of meditation, which is largely the practice of not being so attached to all the noisy chatter in your head. You can also access it by simply sitting still, taking a deep breath and asking your highest consciousness, heart, god, whatever resonates with you: “What is my loving truth right now?”
Fear generally motivates more talking, more seeking information outside of yourself, and more restlessness and agitation. Whereas guidance from your intuition will only feel surprising or uncomfortable if it requires you to consider or do things that are outside of what you currently allow yourself. When you connect with intuition there won’t be any confusion about what the most authentic you would choose, it will only be a question of whether you’re going to take action in alignment with your soul rather than try to take refuge in the mandates of your ego.
It’s the assumption that some of the basic tenants of being human are WRONG, combined with running, avoidance, and distraction from these experiences that truly drives our suffering.
What we resist or try to work around will only scream at us louder and push on our lives harder. I know there are dark chapters that make this nearly impossible to believe, but there is nothing that you cannot face. Your soul is infinitely powerful and loving. It’s the fragile human ego that confuses you about your unyielding capacity for courage, grace and evolution.
When you find yourself holding your breath, stop to BREATHE. Relax the body. Ask yourself what it is you are resisting. Trust yourself enough to move beyond what you believe your limits are.
We will never know true peace or fulfillment by hiding, waiting for “better” or “safer” circumstances, or holding out for more ideal versions of ourselves or lives to appear FIRST.
Whatever is in front of you right now is going to show you the glory of who you really are. It’s in consciously walking through the things you’re most scared to face that you’ll find the greatest liberation possible. Know that through every step of it, you are surrounded by profound love.
On a flight home last week there was an infant in the row behind me making every amazing infant noise and expression. This was on the eve of my oldest’s 10th birthday, and my heart began to reminisce about how mothering a newborn on a plane felt both like something that happened last week and like something that happened to a different woman entirely.
Time is such a strange mystery this way. Things can feel simultaneously like they just happened and like they were a lifetime ago… because both are true. Linear time, if you believe in such a thing, does seem to move quickly, especially the older we get. And along the way, each week, month and year, new and different you’s are being born and shed, created and lost. The you that experienced that memory of a year or a decade or several decades ago was a different lifetime of sorts because it was experienced by a different you.
Given these inevitable changes, I think we’d find more fulfillment and liberation in celebrating time’s fluidity and evasiveness. Let’s respect its magic by obsessing less about controlling, managing and balancing it all and more about simply giving ourselves permission to live fully in the moment. The clichés are true: the present is all we actually have and we will never again have the opportunity to experience its unique and precious gifts.
Your brain is a constant meaning maker. It takes a stimulus and attaches to it the nearest narrative it can grab hold of. The problem is that your brain’s fastest association with a feeling, urge or idea isn’t necessarily the most helpful or accurate.
For example, every so often I become exceptionally preoccupied with rescuing another animal. This impulse usually comes when life is bursting at the seams, and so as much as I feel compelled to go to the animal shelter, I try to resist. I’ve come to realize that this sense of urgency will pass with time but it wasn’t until this weekend that I realized why it happens in the first place.
When I feel the call to care-take during chapters of stress, it seems my brain most often interprets that urge as the desire to care-take for another. The drive to act on love for others is a neurological pathway well developed over the course of my life, so my brain quickly links “care-take” with “another” and off to the shelter I am inclined to go. However, when I stopped to reconsider what might more appropriately be motivating that feeling, I realized the urge to care-take when I feel depleted is meant to be a call to take care of MYSELF, not someone or something else. Since consciousness about self-care hasn’t been practiced as often as other-care, my brain hadn’t been trained to make that interpretation as readily.
Even though loving and connecting with others is healthy and fulfilling, it was worth slowing down to realize that some of the energy I was eager to give away needed to be given to myself.
I see inaccurate associations between feelings and meaning every day in my practice, ultimately trapping people in old stories and patterns. As a consciously growing and evolving person, you’re bound to have new ideas and experiences your brain doesn’t yet have the programming to interpret. Vigilantly challenge narratives written that may no longer hold value.
When you’ve done your due diligence with the first three steps to reclaiming empowerment in life, the final one is without a doubt the most underrated: celebrating! As much stress and anxiety as you suffer in self-doubt and anticipation of doing something unknown, new or avoided, you’d think you’d allow yourself at least as much energy by way of relief, enthusiasm and celebration.
Yet, when was the last time you took real pause to acknowledge getting something crossed off the to do list? How often in a week or month do you invite people to listen as witnesses and cheerleaders to crossing another threshold in the pursuit of your dreams?
Most of us hardly ever do. Our productivity-driven brains tell us that’s silly, a waste of time, and maybe even selfish or too egocentric, so at nearly the same moment we get one thing done, our consciousness is redirected to focusing on the next with little to no fanfare in between.
Yet think about when children learn something new—to walk, read, ride a bike— those endeavors are going to require courage and risk. Mistakes and falls are going to happen, a lot of them in fact, so it’s intuitively understood that they need people to cheer them on at each and every turn. “Hooray!” is cried when they start to stand up on their own, generous loving encouragement is heard when they fall down to ensure they have the nerve to get back up, and everyone near and dear is notified when the first steps are finally taken! It’s exhilarating to watch children grow and develop into each evolution of who they are, and the children who have people wholeheartedly witnessing and honoring all the chapters of life grow up to be some of the most loved and sincerely confident.
It’s not any different when we’re adults, except that now we are the ones responsible for keeping watch, for celebrating, and for letting those we trust know what next thing we’ve just had the nerve to try. This practice of holding sacred space for our growth builds the confidence for taking risks, anchors us in our true power and potential, and replenishes vital energy stores for next steps… just the same as it does for children and puppies and probably plants and all other living things.