Q: I have a difficulty distinguishing between accurate intuition and pointless fear/anxiety. I’m often flooded with emotions and I don’t know when I should follow them and when I should ignore them. For example, I often feel uneasy of something or someone. I’m unsure when I should trust my heart because it’s telling me the truth and when I should ignore it because it’s just my hyper-vigilant traumatized mind scaring me of everything. I have made mistakes by following my feelings when I shouldn't have & ignoring them when I shouldn't have. Please give me some insight as to how to tell the difference between intuition & fear.
A: Thanks for writing. Your question is a very good one. Very simply, the truth is whatever opens your heart and quiets the mind. If something has the opposite effect of contracting your heart and making your mind very busy, then it is not very true. There is always some truth to our fears and doubts, but not very much truth. In contrast an intuition may have a lot of truth to it, and so it will have this quality of softening or opening your heart. The truth does not always feel good and is not always what we might call positive, but it does always have this effect of opening the heart. For example, finding out that your romantic partner is in love with someone else will not feel good, but it will allow you to relax and be more open inside because you now know what is really going on.
In the case of comparing a mind generated fear and a deeper intuition, you can also be curious as to where the thought or feeling comes from. We are very strongly conditioned to focus on the content of our thoughts and feelings, but you can also sense where they are coming from. Is the thought or feeling arising on the surface, or does it seem to be coming from somewhere much deeper? There are thoughts and feelings that are simply triggered by the superficial activity of our mind. These thoughts feel very ephemeral and have no depth or substantiality. In contrast when a deeper knowing is appearing, it can also trigger thoughts, but these thoughts will have a depth and solidity. There is a sense of this when someone says that something "rings true", or that the truth "hit me like a ton of bricks".
It is also helpful in detemining how true an impulse is to compare it to something else. For a simple example, you might be walking at night and you have a fearful thought that "maybe I shouldn't go down that street". If you just look at that thought in isolation, it might seem to be an important message from your intuition. All there is, is truth, so even a fear that is not very true at all has a little truth. It is actually possible that something bad would happen if you walk down that street, but it might not be very likely. Another small truth is a lottery ticket: it is true that you could win. Unfortunately, it is not very true. So your fear about walking down that street might be a small truth like a lottery ticket. And again if that is all you consider, it is difficult to distinguish how true it is. But if you take a moment and imagine changing course and walking down a different street, you then have something to compare it to. You can check how your heart responds when you consider walking down the first street to how it responds when you consider walking down the second street, and even then compare it to stopping and calling a taxi. This gives you something to compare and contrast, and it will be easier to notice any shift in your heart's openness.
There are subtleties to this process in that your heart is always responding to whatever you are experiencing right now. So if you are purely imagining walking down the street, your heart will reflect how true or important or meaningful that experience is for you right now. However, if you have another thought about how you "should" be brave, or a judgment of how fearful you are, then your heart will show you how true the judgment is. With any big decision, it is helpful to give yourself as much time as possible to get a sense of the overall climate of truth of all of the possible choices, since each of the possibilities will also trigger fears and judgments that might not be very true, even if the choice itself is very true for you. And similarly, your desires and preferences may get triggered and make a choice that is not very true for you seem more compelling than it really is. Does considering that thing that you really, really want actually open your heart? Or is the desire actually a place of contraction? It was surprising to me when I first noticed how contracted and painful my romantic infatuations really were!
Finally, it can be helpful to be gentle with yourself. The good news is that your consciousness cannot be harmed no matter how many "wrong" choices you make. It turns out that what happens as a result of our choices is usually not that important or true. Our soul or essence is enriched by every experience in life, so the difficulties we encounter are not really so bad. You can allow yourself to explore all of this without taking it too seriously, and also be kind to yourself when you seem to make a wrong choice. The biggest truth is that your soul is fine no matter what happens in this life.
And even if we do go down some wrong streets in life, our inner guidance follows us and gently steers us back in the right direction. I had a friend who had a navigation system in his car. I asked him what happens if you don't turn where it tells you to. He said it just calculates a new route to the destination. Your intution is like that: if you do not hear it the first time, it simply calculates a new route to your ultimate destination.
I hope this is helpful, and you can read more about listening to your Heart's inner guidance in the free download of part two of Living from the Heart available here. or you can receive a free download of the entire ebook by signing up for my newsletter here.