No doubt: learning the difference between ego and intuition

Survival-based fear is helpful; it's the kind that is ignited by a frightening episode. Ego-based fear is more like you getting in your own way.
Survival-based fear is helpful; it’s the kind that’s ignited by a frightening episode. Ego-based fear is more like you getting in your own way.
Note to Self - Faye Armstrong
Note to Self – Faye Armstrong

I was recently chatting with a young woman who asked, “How do I know what’s my gut feeling and what’s just me doubting myself?”
We’ve all heard this gem of wisdom before: “Go with your gut.” There’s a lot to be said for paying attention to what your body is telling you. But, in order to tune into our divine selves, we sometimes have to clear through that filter known as the ego, and it can be tricky to differentiate between the two.
When you feel resistance, is it fear, or intuition? In order to properly explore that question, let’s look at a couple types of fear.
The first is survival-based. This is the innate, fight or flight, bear-chasing-you-in-the-woods kind of fear. Survival-based fear is instinctual and necessary to keep us safe. This type of fear is important, but it’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about here.
What I want to talk about is ego-based fear. This is the fear that we create based on past experiences and the stories that we tell ourselves based on our perceptions.
You know that nagging voice in your head that takes the worst-case scenario, regardless of how unlikely, and plays it over and over in your mind? That’s ego-fear – and it’s also the type of fear that can be confused with intuition.
Imagine you’ve been asked out on a date (you sexy thing, you). Assuming that your suitor has piqued your interest and shows no obvious signs of being a complete psychopath, you consider the offer. But then, a familiar feeling shows up. Are you nervous, or is it something more?
Examine the evidence
One way to tell is by looking at the nature of the resistance you are getting. Intuitive guidance is usually abrupt, subtle (unless you are in immediate danger) and happens right away. Did you get that “hmm, something seems off” feeling the moment McHottie started putting on the moves? Chances are it’s your intuition. But if the feelings crept in gradually and sounded more like, “My hair totally doesn’t even look cute today/all relationships just end badly anyway…” this is most likely self-limiting doubt stemming from ego-based fear.
Ask yourself
Here’s another scenario: you’ve just been offered a job (score!), but instead of being psyched, you’re having second thoughts. You think, “Am I qualified? Am I setting myself up for failure?”
Consider this: when you think about the opportunity, how do you feel? Did you have a negative physical reaction? Are you hesitant to share the news with your besties in your normally tell-all Facebook message feed? If so, your intuition may be telling you to think twice. Take some time to evaluate before making a decision.
On the flip side: while you’re nervous about making a change, are you still super pumped to update your LinkedIn profile and take on a new challenge? If so, it could just be jitters causing you to doubt your talented self.
Talk it out
Still not sure? Take a trusted friend for coffee, put any “what ifs” aside, and talk about the thing you’re questioning. Ask your buddy to evaluate your tone of voice and body language. Did you speak passionately? Did you get animated and seem excited?
Or, did you shut down physically, crossing your arms and lowering your voice? Try this in the mirror if you’re feeling shy or if your pals aren’t around. You can also try meditating, focusing on the question and quieting the other dialogue going on in your mind.
Our intuition is a powerful, valuable tool which can keep us from dangerous or undesirable situations and keep us on the right path. When it comes to what’s best for us, we usually know the answer deep down. Try these strategies and really dig deep, trusting that you have the power within yourself to choose your best path.

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