Learn to Discern

I have had so many conversations with colleagues and clients in recent weeks about how to know when fear is directing our lives or when we are being guided by our intuition to follow a certain path.

Maybe you’re experiencing this too or have had an experience of it in the past – you make a big decision for your life and take steps in that direction and even though you are confident it’s what you want, you become paralysed by fear or doubt:

  • What if I’ve made an awful mistake?
  • What if this has really bad ramifications for my family?
  • Am I just being selfish?

I’ve had these experiences several times in my life. The first that I remember vividly was when my now husband and I bought our first house. At the time, the mortgage seemed huge, but we’d lived in the area for over a year and really liked it and found what we thought was our perfect first home. The first night we moved in people nearby threw an all-night party. I sat up all night, exhausted from the move, emotional about what buying a house together meant for us as a couple and traumatised that we’d made a terrible mistake and had inherited neighbours from hell.

Another example was when we moved from England back to Ireland after what turned out to be several happy years in the above home. We had all the usual hassles of moving country, house and job all at the same time. I remember sitting on the stairs in our rented house in Cork lamenting to a friend back in Bradford that perhaps we’d made a big mistake and wasn’t it so good that we’d kept our house in Bradford so we could go back!

And of course, there is the example from when I left my previous job to start my own business. During quiet weeks or moments when a company cancelled or delayed a project, I’d be overcome with doubt and wonder if I’d made a terrible mistake. And worse, I plagued myself with the thought that these experiences were the Universe telling me I should never have left my job and put our finances at risk…

I could share several more examples from my life journey and I know you have your own examples because this is a normal part of any change process. Even when the changes are desired and intentional, we experience the fear that accompanies all change.

The problem is that sometimes that fear is so overwhelming, we fail to recognize that it’s just part of the change process. And worse, sometimes when it has been a big decision, maybe involving some risk, we layer on pressure by asking ourselves ‘Is this a sign from the Universe that I’ve made the wrong choice? Am I being guided to go back to the way things were?’

Dr Claire Zammit, a coach in the USA has done great work on distinguishing between the voice of fear and the voice of intuition. She breaks things down so we can actually have clear, concrete ways of distinguishing and discerning between the two. Much of what follows here, draws on her work.

😨 The voice of fear sounds or feels like:

  • Intellect and logic driven – constrictive energy, trying to figure things out, e.g., how can I afford that? Where will I get the time for that?
  • Can only judge you by what you know so far and what has happened in the past
  • Afraid of ANYTHING new – Always trying to protect
  • Needs to be given direction

The kind of “knowing” that goes with this is typically felt in the head, throat or in the belly as a knot. It is not a fully body experience and the energy isn’t connecting all the way through the body. The sensations that accompany fear can be heavy or cold, a feeling of dread or efforting, tiredness, feeling disconnected or deflated. And the voice or tone can be loud, argumentative, persistent, pushy and/or critical.

😌 The voice of our intuition is quite different. It sounds or feels like it is:

  • Growth driven
  • Able to tap into possibility, inspiration
  • Not fearful of anything
  • More like a satellite, broadcasting a signal

The kind of “knowing” that accompanies our intuition is typically felt in the navel and/or the heart centre. It can be felt throughout the body , “all over all at once”. The sensations that accompany it are warm, unfolding, fresh, bright, expansive, easeful. And the voice or tone can be matter of fact, kind, joyful, wise, light-hearted.

We are always being guided, instructed, informed by our intuition. Essentially, it is always pointing us towards growth.
If I’m denying my intuition and not growing, it does get expressed as unlived life, and we often experience that as challenge. It’s the proverbial wake up call to start doing things differently, in better, healthier, more growth oriented ways.
The question that always helps with discernment is what would I love? While I might feel some momentary relief at the thought of going back to my old job or where I used to live previously, in the long run, what will make me happiest? A year from now, three years from now, 5 or 10 years from now, will that still feel like the best move?

If I had given up on my business all those years ago and gone back to a job that I knew wasn’t fulfilling me but gave me some security, I believe it would not have enhanced my life in the long run. I would not have grown nor been empowered through that move to have had any of the successes I’ve achieved by staying the course and following the soul signals I was being given to take a chance, to follow my dreams and to grow.

What about you? What is your voice of intuition signally to you to change in your health, your relationships, your career, your time and money freedom? Where are you being called to grow? And how is fear showing up and keeping you stuck? Hopefully the insights above will empower you to discern between the two and the courage to choose growth.

If you would love to lean in to your intuitive prompts and learn how to dial down the voice of fear, save the date for our next Live, In-person Vision Workshop – 19-21 April in the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel in Cork, Ireland.

The life you love is calling you and trying to make itself aware to you. Tune in!