Anxiety/Fear vs. Intuition
Understanding Anxiety/Fear And Intuition
At first glance, anxiety or fear and intuition might seem unrelated, distinct from each other in their influence on our behavior, choices, and overall lives. However, when we take a deeper look, we find a unique correlation between these psychological feelings.
Anxiety and fear are often physiological responses to perceived threats in our environment. Fear is an emotional response to an immediate threat and is more associated with a fight or flight reaction, either to confront the fear or escape from it. Anxiety, on the other hand, is an anticipation of a future threat. It is often characterized by feelings of unease, such as worry or fear, and physical symptoms such as increased heart rate.
These responses are hardwired into our biology to protect us, as part of our instinct for self-preservation but when these reactions become chronic or disproportionate to the reality of the threat, they can escalate into anxiety disorders which can have a debilitating effect on our lives.
Intuition, on the other hand, is a mental process where we make decisions or form perceptions without conscious reasoning. It's often experienced as a gut feeling or an instinctual understanding without knowing why. Our intuition is not baseless; it is formed from prior learning and experiences, patterns and nuances that we've unconsciously picked up on.
The challenge lies in differentiating whether the 'gut-feeling' is stemming from an intuitive understanding or is it, in fact, a fear or anxious response. Intuition usually speaks first and is based on clear, unbiased perception. It doesn't bring a sense of doom or panic with it — it simply feels 'right.' This feeling remains consistent even with time. However, fear or anxiety may mask itself as intuition, but it usually comes with an intense emotional response, a sense of dread, and restlessness that tends to fluctuate or change over time.
Knowing how to tell the difference between these two can significantly impact your decision-making process and overall quality of life.
Practical Ways to Tune Into Intuition and Manage Anxiety/Fear
Practice: Engage in regular mindfulness meditation to enhance your awareness. Mindfulness helps in recognizing the nature of your thoughts and whether they originate from a place of anxiety or a place of inner wisdom.
Manage: When you feel a strong emotional reaction, take a step back and observe these emotions without judgment to determine if they are fear-based or intuitive.
Body Sensations Check
Practice: Pay attention to physical cues. Anxiety is usually accompanied by tense muscles, shallow breathing, or an upset stomach. Intuition might be felt as a sense of openness, or a "gut feeling" that doesn't cause physical distress.
Manage: Practice deep breathing or relaxation when the physical symptoms of anxiety come forward to help reset your nervous system.
Practice: Keep a journal to record instances when you felt a gut feeling and what the outcome was. Reflecting on past experiences can sharpen intuitive understanding.
Manage: Write down your fearful thoughts. Seeing them on paper can sometimes diminish their power and help you to analyze them more objectively.
Practice: Work on becoming more emotionally intelligent. Being able to label and understand your emotions can clarify their source.
Manage: If an emotion like fear arises, name it, acknowledge it, and reassure yourself if it isn't based on immediate danger.
Practice the Pause
Practice: One powerful strategy when confronted with challenging decisions is to 'practice the pause'. Especially when emotions are high, allow yourself a breather for the initial response to settle so you can consult a calmer, more intuitive state.
Manage: Incorporate this into your response mechanism. If emotions seem overpowering, hit the pause button on responding. Use this paused moment to examine and process your feelings before taking any action.
Handling Contradictions Between Feelings and Desires
It's not uncommon for your intuition or fear to suggest a course of action that seems at odds with what you believe you want. In times like these:
- Take a moment to reflect on why you want the particular outcome you're fixated on; is it truly in line with your values and long-term goals?
- Contemplate whether your desire might be influenced by external pressures or temporary emotions.
- Trust that sometimes your intuition sees a broader picture, acknowledge that your conscious desires may not always align with your subconscious understanding.
- Recognize that fear might be protecting you from perceived risks, but also consider that taking some risks is essential for growth.
Learning to listen to your intuition while recognizing and managing fear and anxiety can empower you to make choices that align with your highests elf. It is a skill that helps you to navigate through life's challenges with grace and courage, allowing you to #CreateYourFuture.