How can we decipher between intuition and fear or ego-based thinking? The most important, obvious and overlooked step is this; when you ask for guidance, you have to be committed to listening to the answer. The truth/God/the universe/intuition is not usually miked up. It’s more like a whisper – sometimes a stage whisper in church that nobody could ignore and sometimes it’s a whisper in a nightclub on NYE, that you can’t hear unless you zone out, shut your eyes tune in with everything you’ve got.
There are so many times in my life where the problem wasn’t that I didn’t hear God or the universe, but that I didn’t like what I was hearing! I’m not special; a higher power speaks to us all. We all have the direct radio link – we don’t need to be transferred through a third-party, be it a Priest, Rabbi, Imam, or Guru. Nobody’s link is broken, it’s just that it’s dusty and being interfered with by so many outside forces and there’s so much static that the messages seem inaudible often.
If you’re struggling to ‘hear’ the answer, pay attention to your visceral reaction as it’s much louder. Intuition is often in the body, not the mind. Talk or think about the options, how does the body feel when you do this? Constricted or expansive? If you feel expansive and open, your intuition is pro the option, if you’re constricted in your abdomen or chest, then your instincts are saying ‘nooo!’.
We’ve all had experiences when something looked great on paper but we had a feeling it wasn’t right and we turned out to be right. Think about times it has happened to you, when your intuition was right. It doesn’t matter if you ignored it at the time or not, just write it down. This reinforces the idea and makes you more aware the next time that feeling comes up.
Next, think about your current conundrum. Write down possibilities – and think outside the box. This gets the issue out of your head and is relieving. Ask questions! What is the result you most desire in this area? Be honest, outlandish, and unrealistic. Imagine ‘big’. This is just a game so don’t be self-conscious. List all the options you can think of. They don’t have to be ideal, just have to be options. Next write upsides and downsides for each. this is important as we often hugely exaggerate worst case scenarios in our head and when we write them down we are more honest about them and our capabilities to cope with these worst case scenarios. Think of the worst case scenario but don’t fixate. If you then face it you’ll only have lived it at the point, in reality, and the time you decided you could cope with it, in your imagination. Don’t live it 3000 times.
Now write down who else will it impact. Will this impact your team, family, customers, friends? This often makes us confront things that are morally or ethically wrong or questionable when we see who else will be impacted. It’s true that you can’t keep everyone happy and it’s a losing game to try, but don’t let your decision undermine your integrity. You will usually regret this but you’re less likely to ignore the long-term ramifications if you’ve written it down rather than shoved it to the very back of your mind.
The following step is to script setbacks. “What will I do when ‘x’ happens? What will I say? Who will I call? Who will support me?” This is a fantastic reference point if you decide to go for it – whatever it is.
By this stage in the exercise you should know whether it’s fear or intuition that’s telling you to do something or not do something. Don’t be frustrated if it is fear that’s stopped you. Remember that fear is utterly essential. It’s the reason you’re alive. Fearlessness only exists in psychopaths and toddlers and we don’t want to emulate either of these groups! Everyone is fearful; Olympians, rock stars, CEO’s. They may have renamed it – As Tony Robbins likes to point out, ‘stress’ is the achievers word for fear but if you follow the stress and you’ll reach fear at the core of it.
Remember that fear is utterly essential. We are all alive because fear stopped us being killed somewhere along the way so we have to stop demonizing fear. Be kind to it, treat it as a friend, don’t assault it, just thank it politely and move on. Fear can come in the boat but it’s not in the control room – relegate it to the lower deck. Don’t let it choose the itinerary or who’s allowed aboard. A good sailor isn’t controlled by a passenger. Three things make a good sailor – knowledge, preparation and courage to face the sea.
It was a chiropractic adjustment of the mind when I realised Ego (fear) will probably always speak first and loudest. The voices of ego and fear are identical. One doesn’t have a French accent and one an Irish (mores the pity, who doesn’t love an accent?!). It’s the pitch, tone, volume that are different. The ego is pushy, loud, frenzied, angry, talking ten to the dozen and going off on a thousand tangents. Truth stands back, a faint voice in the background, calmly saying “this is okay, you are okay”. Don’t be scared that you’re not getting spirituality if you have a lot of fear, it’s just a trigger to put your ear to the ground for the truthful voice.
I have two favourite quotes that I look to when I am questioning my fear or intuition. One is Mark Twain’s, ‘I am a very old man and I look back at my life I’ve had so many difficulties. Most of them never happened’ and the other is Nelson Mandela’s ‘may your choices reflect your hopes not your fears’. They are so simple but say everything.
I’ve advised you to do many things about but my last piece of advice is this; do not listen to me – listen to yourself, the unique voice inside. Trust your instincts. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, but you think it’s a bird, then it’s a bird. Don’t be too afraid to fly with it – your intuition will teach you how.