Go with your gut, right? Well, it’s not as simple as that, says guest writer and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner Olivia Chitty – why understanding how intuition and ego need to work together to help you make the best decisions possible (and check out her previous stories on how to boost your self-confidence and how to work with your cycle – not against – for optimal health.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘go with your gut’, but what we’re really saying is follow your intuition. You know, that feeling of just knowing something. The internal pull to go one way, when the other direction may seem like the logical decision, or the gentle voice in your head, telling you to be cautious about something is a truly powerful thing.
It’s your intuition but unfortunately, it’s often ignored because Its soft and subtle nature is easily overpowered by the ‘bigger bully’ of the mind – the ego.
Differentiating between intuition and ego can be a challenging task and sadly most people unconsciously let their ego hold them back from living their life to the fullest.
So what’s the difference?
Simply put, your ego wants you to survive but your intuition wants you to THRIVE!
Your ego is like an overprotective parent, it wants to keep you safe and convinces you that everything new or unknown is dangerous. Its main job is to protect you – physically, mentally and emotionally. It plays an important role but because the ego is largely influenced by the outside world, our conditioning, past pains and the opinions of others, it becomes overbearing and distracts us from our true sense of self.
It may be the louder voice in our head but it’s often fueled by fear and tends to hold us back from pursuing those deeper desires or embracing the challenges that will help us grow.
Your intuition, on the other hand, wants you to break free from your limitations, try new things, follow your passions, learn, grow and create a life that lights you up – not drags you down.
But what is this mystical intuition thing anyway? Where does it come from and can we really trust it?
Some call it a superpower or a secret ‘spidey sense’ but it’s not magic, it’s the unconscious mind. Researchers from Leeds University describe it as a “psychological process where the brain uses past experiences and cues from the self and the environment to make a decision without any conscious thought”.
Imagine your unconscious mind is like a library storing all of the information that you’ve collected over the years, your intuition is the helpful librarian offering you the necessary books to support you with a particular situation. It’s the messenger between the unconscious and the conscious mind.
We all have access to this wisdom within us, but its up to you to build that connection and learn to trust it’s messages. The more you listen, the stronger it becomes and it will confidently guide you towards true fulfilment in your life.
So how do you embrace your intuition?
First of all, you need to be able to identify when your thoughts are being manipulated by your ego so you can quiet the noise and tune into your intuition.
Here are a few sure-tell signs that your ego is at work:
- Fear – If your inner voice is speaking in a fearful or anxious way, you can bet it’s ego. The ego focuses on threats and your intuition focuses on opportunities
- Scarcity – If your mind defaults to the ‘glass half empty’ perspective, or you constantly compare your life to others and feel like you’re lacking… it’s the ego. Intuition is confident and secure
- Overthinking – Constantly changing ideas and inconsistent self-talk are characteristics of the ego. Intuition is steady and certain.
- External – Your ego tries to boost itself up through external validation. Your intuition needs nothing
- Justification – The ego backs up its decisions with a laundry list of reasons. Intuition gives you just one simple answer. No explanation needed
- Judgment – If your inner voice speaks in a judgmental, competitive or bitter tone, it’s definitely ego. Intuition comes from a place of love.
The human brain processes information through these two ‘operating systems’ and then presents the conclusions for you to consider. The first response is your intuition, it’s immediate and instinctual. It can come across as a gentle and supportive nudge and it’s often felt as a physical sensation or a pull towards something.
The second response (from the ego), comes later because it’s taken time to consult with the opinions of the outside world, as it’s more concerned with how the decision will be seen through the eyes of others. When it finally shows up, its loud, analytical and sometimes a little naggy.
Your ego usually pushes you towards the ‘safe’ option, the thing you apparently ‘should’ do to keep the peace and avoid any disruption. However, your intuition knows that there may be some initial discomfort, but it recognises the long-term benefits and will push you towards the things you truly want or what it knows is best for you.
Most of the time, what we truly want lies just outside of the comfort zone and your intuition is your loving guide, nudging you to go for it!
Here are 6 tips to help you rebuild the trust with your intuition:
1: Create space to listen!
It can’t communicate with you if you’re too busy to stop and listen, so quiet the mind and tune in! Meditation and mindfulness practices will help you slow down, be present and allow the answers to flow through without friction.
2: Let go of limiting beliefs
Do the inner work to ditch self-doubts and the stories that keep you stuck. This mental mess only clouds your judgement and blocks you from trusting your intuition.
3: Care less about the opinion of others
Stop handing your power over to others and letting them make your decisions for you. Build confidence in yourself and the connection with your intuition will start to thrive.
4: Practice with small questions
Ask your intuition for guidance on smaller decisions that don’t hold as much weight like “What should I eat for dinner?” or “Should I go out with my friends tonight?”. Remember your intuition is the first immediate response so don’t overthink it – just trust. This will start to build the evidence that you can trust your intuition and it will become easier to make those bigger decisions.
5: Focus on the feeling
Take notice of your body cues when you’re in different situations and environments. A tight chest, a racing heart or a shiver down your spine might be a sign that something is off. You’ll know when something feels right, even if it doesn’t make logical sense – you might feel free, excited or warm.
6: Build your EQ
Develop your emotional intelligence: strengthen your self-awareness and the ability to acknowledge, feel and release your emotions – research shows, that when you’re in a positive frame of mind it’s easier for those intuitive messages to come through. Advance your social awareness skills to gain a better understanding of the non-verbal cues (tone, volume, body language and gestures) that will inform your intuition.
If you need support to let go of those limiting beliefs and build confidence in yourself and your intuition, I’d be happy to help. Check out my one-on-one coaching offers here.