I’m having trouble distinguishing between my gut instinct and a reaction based on fear/anxiety.
For example, someone new wants to collaborate with you on a proposed work project. It sounds like a great opportunity.
But there’s a feeling there that things may not be as peachy as they seem.
You wonder if the feeling is a gut reaction to the person/situation actually being too good to be true/something being off but you can’t pinpoint why. OR if the feeling is just you overthinking things (even if it’s only been a minute), jumping to fear-based conclusions that you normally fall back on to keep yourself down subconsciously.
Like the situation really could be one of those too good to be true but it’s actually true if you have the courage to go for it situations.
OR, it could end up being too good to be true and you end up screwed in the end. Hindsight is 20/20 but very unhelpful when trying to make decisions.
– Shifting out of Hindsight
This is such a great question! And something that I often have clients ask me about.
Gut feeling, or intuition, is one of the most powerful forces in your toolkit for life. Yet many people don’t know how to use it effectively.
They may often get nudges that tell them something.
But more often than not they come up with reasons that they’re nudges are wrong.
One way this shows up is telling yourself you’re “being judgmental” when someone doesn’t feel right or you aren’t quite sure why you don’t like someone.
Instead of leaning into the self-trust that says “this is a sign and I need to step back and observe“, we often brush our intuition aside, criticize ourselves for being judgmental, and then find out later that the person in question was not someone we wanted to get involved with.
I especially see this with people when they encounter a narcissist. They feel something is “off” but the person “seems so nice” and is so charming they convince themselves that they’re wrong and that they can’t trust themselves.
Yep, you guessed it, following your intuition comes down to self-trust.
Do you trust your judgment?
Do you trust yourself?
Do you trust the universe (source, divine, God – or whatever resonates for you)?
When you come from a background of Toxicity and Trauma you’ve often been taught not to trust yourself. This happens because of years of invalidation.
What’s invalidation? It’s when someone tells you that your inner feelings are wrong. To “suck it up” because you can’t possibly be hungry, you just ate. You can’t possibly be tired, you got plenty of sleep. You shouldn’t be sad, that’s stupid. Or you can’t trust your gut instinct, that’s stupid.
Your faith in yourself, and your trust in your gut, gets slowly stripped away by years of conditioning that tells you ever so subtly that you cannot be trusted. And that you absolutely cannot, and should not, trust your inner world.
So what happens? You discount it. You find reasons that your gut, or your intuition is wrong. You find ways to invalidate yourself even after those people are gone who gave you those subtle messages all your life.
So now, back to your specific question about whether it’s a nudge/ intuition/ gut or it’s fear because of self-sabotage… Yes, self-sabotage is a real issue.
Many people are afraid of success and so find ways to find “reasonable excuses” for not following through on opportunities that would lead to really amazing things for them.
But at the end of the day, both of these things are a false internal dialogue that’s telling you “you’re wrong. You can’t trust yourself. You can’t trust the world”.
When you get an intuitive nudge it feels like something is off. There’s not a good reason for it. The way I like to explain it is it almost feels like you put the movie on slow motion. Things slow down and you wonder if they should speed up.
So how do you differentiate this from fear? You sit with it. That’s right. You sit with the feeling that you’re getting and you have a chat with it. You ask it “what am I afraid of? What is it about this situation that doesn’t feel right? How do I actually feel right now? What’s the worst case scenario?”
You give the fear a voice so that you can actually hear what it’s trying to tell you. Only when you look that feeling straight in the face can you hear what it’s saying.
Only then can you collect data on what the feeling is telling you. You see, feelings are data. They are communicating information to us. And when we don’t trust our feelings and are disconnected from them, we’re losing out on a whole source of information that can help us on our path.
So when you close your eyes, slow down, take a breath and feel into it – how do you feel?(now this “how do you feel” exercise will look very different for a man walking toward you in a dark alley than a business opportunity. So keep in mind that this example isn’t meant to be blanketly applied to everything in your life).
Maybe you feel an irrational level of fear, a fear of annihilation. That you’ll die. Why on earth would you feel that way for a business opportunity? That indicates that there’s very likely a subconscious fear motivating this that has nothing to do with the opportunity and has everything to do with your fears about what will happen if you succeed (or fail).
Maybe you feel a small fear and are able to easily identify what it’s about. Perhaps this person has a history of biting off more than they can chew and shirking their responsibilities and making others pick up the slack. And your fear is telling you that this person may very well do this exact thing again during this collaboration. This is good data that can empower you to either not choose to collaborate or be VERY clear and get a contract with the person about who is responsible for what.
Or perhaps when you really sit with the feeling it’s not exactly fear you’re feeling. It’s a sense of your feet being stuck on the floor and being unable to move forward. This can be two things. It can be resistance (which is often an indicator of #1 above). OR, it can be intuition telling you that this opportunity is not ideal for you. How do you tell the difference? Resistance looks like avoidance, like denial, like an inability to look at the thing that you’re considering. Intuition feels like a calm certainty. Even if the calm certainty is saying “don’t move” it actually wouldn’t feel like fear (in this example). It would feel like an inner knowing.
Some other things to consider:
Connect with where you feel your intuition in your body. And get to know what your intuitive nudges feel like so you can easily identify them. The more you practice the easier this gets.
Wait. Breathe. Slow down. And even ask yourself multiple times. Do not rush into a decision as the adrenaline of “I have to choose right now!” can often mask itself as anxiety, excitement, and fear. I will often step away from an opportunity and just let my emotions settle down so that I can really feel into how the situation feels to me before I make a decision rather than impulsively choosing based on adrenaline. I highly recommend you try this too.
“Following your intuition comes down to self-trust.”
Got a Question?
Got a question for Dr. Ash? Send them to [email protected] and you may find your question featured in one of the upcoming editions!