We all have that inner voice guiding us through life’s twists and turns. But sometimes, it gets a bit hazy, and we can’t tell if it’s our intuition or the echoes of past traumas playing tricks on us. It can be tricky figuring out whether we’re being guided by our gut or by fear. I’ve been making it a point to learn how to figure out which voice I’m actually hearing, and I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned so far.
First of all, what is intuition?
Intuition is like a tiny whisper from deep inside of you. Pulling from your inner wisdom and knowledge, it’s a powerful force that allows you to just ‘know’. This can be subtle but it’s strong, usually feeling calm, clear, and aligned with your values and desires. Intuition might not always come with a logical explanation, but it usually feels pretty firm and sound.
What is fear then?
Fear is usually loud and overpowering. It’s often rooted in past experiences, limiting beliefs, and self-protection mechanisms. Most of the time, our fear-based responses are driven by worry, anxiety, and a need for control or to avoid further pain. When we’re guided by fear, there’s usually indecision, hesitation, or making choices based solely on avoiding negative outcomes.
So how do I tell fear and intuition apart?
There are a few things to pay attention to here…
- Awareness of physical feelings: Pay attention to how your body reacts in different situations. Intuition often brings a sense of calmness, expansion, or lightness. Fear can bring tension, tightness, or a sense of constriction. The feelings from either can be subtle so you may need to concentrate to figure out exactly what’s happening.
- Clarity vs. Confusion: Intuition tends to bring clarity and a deep sense of knowing. Even if the path ahead is uncertain, you sort of just know what to do or feel like it will work out. Fear, on the other hand, can create confusion, doubt, and a clouded thought process. If you find yourself trapped in a loop of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s probably fear.
- Alignment with Authentic Self: This is a big one; intuition is tied to alignment. It’s lining things up with your core values, desires, and the person you want to be. Following your intuition will usually leave you feeling more fulfilled. Meanwhile, fear-based responses can push you away from your values and desires. You might be pulling back from what you really want because you’re afraid.
So what do I do to find clarity?
Work on mindfulness: practice being present and paying attention to your inner experiences. Tools and activities like meditation, journaling, or walking in nature are really helpful to quiet the mind and create space for your intuition to grow louder.
Reflect on past experiences: think about times where you followed your intuition as well as times when you were led by fear. Look at the outcomes and how they aligned with your long-term well-being and growth. How did it feel when making the choices and how did the outcomes match up with where you want to be in life?
Start small and pay attention: try making small decisions based on your intuition. Pay attention to the outcomes and how they make you feel. Gradually build confidence by celebrating the times when your intuition leads you in the right direction. If something feels off, pause and try to figure out why before making your decision. Is that voice purely operating out of fear or is there a valid reason behind the apprehension? As you continue on, you’ll become more confident in your ability to follow your intuition.
Practice self-compassion: if you’re having fear based responses, it usually means that you’ve gone through something difficult or scary. The fact that you’re taking the time to address it and working to overcome it speaks volumes about how strong you are! Give yourself grace during the process and remember that these things can take time. Be proud of every single step forward that you take.
It can be a process learning to tell the difference between intuition and fear.
The path involves a lot of work, self-discovery and growth- especially if you’ve got a traumatic past. By practicing your awareness, understanding the characteristics of intuition and fear, and applying practical techniques, you can sharpen your ability to discern between them. It’s normal to make mistakes along the way, but each step taken with self-awareness brings you closer to making choices that align with your truest self. The more you trust yourself, the easier it will be to embrace the journey of finding your authentic path and living a life of fulfillment.
I’ll leave you with some journal prompts
If you’ve been here before, you know I never pass up a chance to advocate for journaling! So here are some prompts to help you if you’re trying to discern whether that inner voice your hearing is your intuition or fear.
- Think about the relationship between intuition and self-trust. How does your level of self-trust impact your ability to discern between intuition and fear? What practices or beliefs can support the development of self-trust?
- How do you think your intuition might communicate with you? What are the signs, sensations, or messages you receive?
- What are some recurring fears or triggers that you notice in your life? How do they relate to past traumatic experiences? How do they impact your ability to trust your intuition? How might you differentiate between fear-based responses and genuine intuitive guidance?
- Describe a time when you ignored your intuition and later realized it was correct. What contributed to your decision to disregard it? What could you do differently next time to honor your intuition?
- Describe the warning signs or red flags that often arise when fear is influencing your decision-making process. How can you become more attuned to these signs? How can you recognize and address fear-based responses in the future?
- Consider a decision you’re currently facing. Take a few moments to consider any thoughts or feelings that come up when you think about the decision. How do they make you feel? Calm and collected or anxious? Write down anything that comes up and try to mark it as intuition or fear. What feels more aligned with your wants and desires?
Journaling is a great way to get to know yourself but it’s also a super personal experience, so you don’t have to follow these prompts exactly. Adapt them and make them work for you. Or simply read through them all and then take a few moments to breathe before pulling out your journal and just writing down whatever comes up. However you approach it, I hope this helps you on your journey.
Need a journal? I make custom journals and would love to help you to make the perfect safe space for getting to know yourself. Just shoot me a message or visit my etsy shop.
And if you’d like some guidance on your self-discovery journey, be sure to check out my Rise and Thrive Coaching program. I’d be happy to brainstorm together, share some of my tried and true tricks and tools, and hold space for you to grow and empower yourself as you embrace and celebrate the amazing woman that you are.