I think we all deal with fear at some level, some more than others. For many of us, that spirit has been with us so long that we have a hard time making a distinction between it and the natural way our minds and bodies warn us to be aware that danger may be near.
But, living your life in fear can cause you to ignore best measure of what is right for you versus what is wrong: your gut. So, I wanted to write you this quick note about the four steps our brains ususally go through when fearful thoughts are competing with our intuitive ones:
- FEAR: YOU HAVE IMMEDIATE THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT COULD HAPPEN, OR WHAT COULD GO WRONG
This is such a subtle way that fear keeps us bound. Of course you are supposed to consider the risks of any new venture, or any life altering decision. But when it is fear talking, rather than wisdom, fear will ONLY speak to you about what could go wrong, or provide you with reasons why you shouldn’t do something to the point of talking yourself out of it. You will go back and forth with yourself to the point of exhaustion, and then give up, or relax on pursuing the idea altogether, satisfied with the mental exercise that fear has tricked you into believing is work towards the imagined goal. Yes, wisdom admonishes to prepare your field before building your house (Proverbs 24:27), and that no one starts building without counting the cost (Luke 14:28), but at some point you actually have to start building.
INTUITION: More of a knowing (a gut feeling) rather than a thought.
When it’s your intuition kicking in, you will just know that it is something you should or shouldn’t do. And oftentimes, you will have little to no evidence to support this feeling. For example, I have a friend who I have known for several years. We met in the most coincidental way, got along well. However, the more time we spent together, this nagging feeling inside me grew, telling me that something about her was off…like she was not someone who I could trust like that. However, she never did or said anything that would lead to me to this conclusion; in fact, by all accounts, it was quite the opposite! This nagging feeling in my gut went on for several years in our friendship, until one day, I had the rare opportunity to experience her in a more personal way I never had before and in just one moment, I realized what my intuition had picked up on that I could not see with my eyes.
Fear brings anxiety, but intuition is more of a silent conviction.
2. FEAR: GIVES YOU REASON NOT TO DO SOMETHING
As I stated earlier, fear will speak to you about all the reasons why you should not do something you have decided you want to do until you arrive at the point of talking yourself out of it. And many times, the reasons are legit- I mean, if you want to become an entrepreneur, the part many people often fail to truly anticipate is how much money it takes to make money, especially when you want to make it on your own terms. It can be a scary thought to leave your job to pursue your dreams, especially when you have a family to provide for. And fear will be the main one reminding you of that. Fear will not tell you how possible it is to achieve this goal and how successful you could be, but it will tell you about how such and such tried starting a business and failed in the first year. Fear will not tell you about how the internet provides you with a great starting point to learn more about your given industry, but it will remind you about how little you know about the ins and out of managing a business. Just imagine fear as the hatin’ ass friend or family member that likes pointing out the obstacles to your goals…but the trick is, fear makes you do it to yourself, therefore making it harder for you to realize it’s holding you back.
INTUITION: Usually, you will want to do it, but something is telling you not to.
When your intuition is kicking in to protect you, it operates differently from fear because it will be more like pumping the brakes, rather than making you afraid of what could happen if you moved forward. There are times where you may feel like, “Yes okay, I can do this and I am ready to do it now,” but something is telling you to slow down. Again, it will be more of a conviction that you should slow yourself down, rather than what fear does, which is holding you back by keeping you from moving forward in the first place.
3. FEAR: YOU WILL EVENTUALLY TALK YOURSELF OUT OF IT
A great trick of fear is mentally exhausting you to the point where you tell yourself, “Okay, well after doing a little research and thinking it over, maybe I am not ready to move forward with this thing.” But really, all fear has done is played every reason in your mind why what you want to do will fail, and then overwhelmed you with the thoughts and feelings of how much you don’t have what you need to accomplish your goal, which effectively prevents you from moving forward. And by the way-perfectionism is just another mask that fear wears. By making you think that because what you have to present to the world may not be as polished and as well put together as what someone else has done, you will feel as if you might as well wait until you can line your ducks up in a row before pursuing your goal.
INTUITION: You will try to talk yourself into doing it, even though something is telling you not to.
When it’s your intuition, you usually will find yourself trying to seek out a way to make the small positives outweight the large negatives.
4. FEAR: MAKES YOU OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT OTHERS MAY THINK
I really hate this about fear. As an entrepreneur, I have to be aware of what people are thinking and feeling if I am going to make money. But fear makes me wonder too deeply about what others may think to the point of me missing money. For example, I will purposely not mention work I have written in fear that the people I am talking to may think I am bragging, or judge me for not having a larger platform. And while I am working out in my head what I should do, I become paralyzed with fear to the point of doing nothing.
INTUITION: Usually overlooked and quieted by a fear of missing out
When intuition is kicking in rather than fear, it may quietly speak to you about why you shouldn’t make a decision or move forward with something, while fear is yelling at you to ‘do it now!’ by evoking FOMO.
My hope is that the next time you are faced with a big decision, you are able to recognize your brain going through these steps and are more prepared to make a quick decision to distinguish between fear and intuition. When in doubt, always follow the path that leaves you with the most peace!