A question that frequently arises in coaching sessions is, “How do I know if my thought or feeling is intuition or fear?” While there are big differences between the two, it can be difficult to distinguish – especially when it is regarding something that we already have fear about: the wellbeing of our children, committing to a new relationship, being taken advantage of, and so forth.
The Difference Between Intuition and Fear
When we experience intuition, it comes as a desire, a feeling of wanting to do something, or as an idea of an action to take.
Intuition is experienced as desire or action. Fear, on the other hand, is experienced as an inability to take action, anger, sadness, or self-pity (everyone’s least liked concept). Fear is experienced as a problem without a solution.
Intuition and Fear in Our Daily Lives
My favorite example of intuition takes place on an uneventful Tuesday morning. I love this example because it exemplifies the fact that intuition is a part of our day-to-day existence. It is a part of us always and doesn’t just serve major life events or decisions but allows us to move through life easily and enjoyably.
On this particular Tuesday morning, I went to the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee as I usually do. It was a clear and sunny day, and I was enjoying staring out at the mountains through the sliding glass door. I suddenly felt a desire to take out the trash. In our home, this is not something I usually do – my partner is in charge or the trash just as I’m in charge of keeping items stocked – we are clear on what our responsibilities are.
Since I had the desire to take out the trash, I went ahead and tied the bag, opened the sliding door, and walked around back to add it to the bin. When I turned the corner toward the bins, I realized the back gate was open. I was able to close it before our Husky (infamous escape artists) had realized and ran out. This was a miracle.
Our dog runs freely in the backyard every day and I had never before checked if the gate is open or not. If I had let her out without having gone back with the trash, she would have surely gotten out – at best, I would have missed meetings or been distracted, at worst, we may have not had her with us anymore. All of this was averted, my day continued productively and we went on with our lives.
Following Our Intuition
My desire to take out the trash was my intuition. Intuition doesn’t usually come in as a thunderous voice that says “Go close the back gate!” Intuition is a series of desires and actions that place us in the life and way of movement that is aligned with our highest potential.
Another important note that this example helps us recognize is that intuition and fear are not always exclusive. They can, and often do, both exist in the same situation or experience. We are the ones who choose whether we are going to allow intuition to empower us or give our power to fear.
The chart below demonstrates how this situation could have gone either way:
I feel the desire to take out the trash.
I want to take out the trash and suddenly feel angry that the trash hasn’t already been taken out. (Fear of my partner not contributing equally)
I follow my desire to take out the trash.
I refuse to follow my desire to take out the trash and leave it there to prove a point to my partner. (Fear of being taken advantage of)
I find the gate open.
Our dog gets out before I realize the gate is open. (Fear prevented me from taking intuitive action)
I am grateful I realized the gate is open.
I am furious that the vendor who was there earlier in the morning left the gate open. (Fear of not being able to rely on others)
I know the vendor is kind and reliable and these things happen sometimes.
I develop distrust and relations with my regular vendor grow unfriendly. (Fear of being taken advantage of)
I have not since found the gate open.
I attract more situations of distrust and unexpected issues. (Whatever we give our power to increases)
When we choose to give our power to our intuition and thereby become empowered to take action, we live intuitively. When we live intuitively, we: think clearly, expand our resources, and enjoy deeper connections.