How to Tell the Difference Between Fear and Intuition?

How do you know whether you are tapping into your intuition, or simply engaging and entertaining unhelpful, fear-based thoughts? Is that inner voice your intuition or your fear speaking? This is a complex topic, and yet it represents a skill we need and can develop as highly sensitive people. I believe everyone can benefit from learning to differentiate between intuition and fear, but highly sensitive people even more because struggling to understand which one is speaking to us can lead us to an endless spiral of doubt and confusion.

Intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, a combination of in, which means “at, on”, and tueri, which means “to look at, watch over”. Intuition has been defined by De Quincey (1840) as the capacity to perceive directly without reasoning, know by immediate perception. In spiritual literature, it is often identified as our Higher or Wiser Self. This part of us offers us a broader vision of who we are, what we need, and the best way to make ends meet. It is a source of guidance and full alignment with our core essence.

On another hand, fear-based thoughts and beliefs come from our Ego Self. They result from unexamined experiences and the conditioning power of many external factors such as culture and family dynamics. They seem rampant and make us go into alert mode. They come almost automatically and with the sole aim of saving our most superficial identity and sense of self. Since both intuition and fear-based thoughts can arise within us very quickly, it takes some level of awareness and practice to learn to differentiate them.

The best way to go about it is to pay more attention to your own mental patterns. What is going on in your mind? Which part of you is talking? Embrace self-examination and self-discovery. Ask questions to yourself and observe what unfolds with no particular judgment. Pay attention to your body’s reactions too. With time and self-reflection, you will be able to discern whether you are being driven by fear or intuition. You will learn to observe how intuition comes as a soft and gentle inner voice, whereas ego-driven thoughts are often loud and sensory overwhelming.

As you pay more and more attention to the quality of your thoughts and feelings, I’m sure you will agree at some point that your intuition is stronger and clearer whenever you are calm and relaxed. That’s when we are able to hear it in the first place. When we are stressed, or feel that our well-being is threatened for some reason, we can’t connect so easily with that part of us that is intuitive and knowing. We tend to make it worse instead, feeding or fueling our Ego Self with more unhelpful thoughts.

Aim to practice and live with what Buddhists call “right mindfulness”, the ability to see and witness what is occurring inside and outside of yourself, with non-judgment, and from a place of acceptance of what is. Only then you will be able to hear and begin recognizing the soothing voice through which your intuition speaks to you. The more you practice and expand your awareness with mindfulness, the more you will be able to tune in and make decisions that are more aligned with who you truly are.

Is Happiness a Realistic Goal?

realistic goal and a desirable one. It is rather impossible to be happy all the time, of course, and it is rather difficult to be in a pure state of bliss on a regular basis. However, we can aim to develop skills and strategies that enhance our level of consciousness.

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BOOK REVIEW: Emotional Wisdom by Mantak Chia & Dena Saxer

What is the role of human emotions? What can they tell us about our health and well-being? Are they good or bad? Have you thought about emotions and how they impact your life? Should they be managed or prevented at all costs? These are some of the questions you will be invited to ask and seek answers to when you start reading the book Emotional Wisdom by Mantak Chia and Dena Saxer.

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One of the aspects I loved about this book is that it introduces you to Taoism, a Chinese philosophy that teaches us how to go through life in harmony. The most basic principle of Taoism is that there’s a universal cosmic force that flows through all things. This energy constantly binds and releases itself, contributing to the greater natural order of the cosmos. Emotions are not excluded from this dynamic.

There are positive and negative emotions. Positive emotions are usually an indicator that we are in harmony with cosmic energy. Negative emotions mean there is something out of balance and which needs some tender loving care. They help us identify when we are out of balance and need to recalibrate. They can also work as a sign or compass for decision-making and pursuing creative endeavors (e.g. painting).

Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain… you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain (Eckhart Tolle)

Emotions are a form of energy and they are part of our human existence, no matter how much we try to deny them. I would like to know exactly when human beings decide that emotions are ugly and bad. This false belief has taken a toll on us. We have grown to reject emotions and disregard the value of emotions, especially the negatives ones. Negative emotions are messages from our soul saying there is something that is just not right.

According to Chinese Philosophy, the internal root cause of ill-health is the existence of an emotional imbalance, and Western medicine has finally caught up with this valuable insight. Studies have shown that negative emotions make our blood thicker and more acidic, making it more difficult to circulate in the body. A lot of findings like this have been discovered in the field of Psychoimmunology, which studies the mind-body connection and its impact on health and well-being.

Today’s problem is that most of us don’t want to feel and process negative emotions. Instead of sitting with them and learning what they want to tell us, we either get paralyzed or seek ways to numb ourselves (e.g. food, violence, sex). In the long term, it is our body that pays the highest price through discomfort and disease. Emotional Wisdom addresses these emotions and teaches you techniques to deal with and release them. One of these techniques is the inner smile meditation.

The inner smile meditation is a Taoist practice that has you visualizing and experiencing an event that makes you smile in your mind’s eye and extend the energy of that smile to all your organs and body parts. It takes you about ten minutes to perform this practice and the result is that you will feel more relaxed, more at ease, and also kinder to yourself. This occurs because you will be helping your body reduce stress hormones: adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.

There are other very interesting and useful concepts and techniques in this book, Emotional Wisdom. I strongly recommend it if you are already familiar with eastern philosophy, or you want to learn more about it.

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BOOK REVIEW: Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick

I did enjoy Stephanie’s book a lot and I strongly recommend you to peek on it, if you are into journaling and writing as a method of self-expression and personal transformation. You will find many interesting prompts across the entire book so that you can work your writing flow and perhaps discover more about yourself within specific topics to which you never really paid much attention to.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Resilience Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi

What is Resilience, and why does it seem so important in today’s fast-paced society? Have you considered what resilience means to you? Do you think you are resilient enough? Is it possible to have more resilience? And if so, how can you build more of it? These are some of the questions you will see answered once you pick The Resilience Workbook written by Gleen R. Schiraldi, one of the books I selected to read throughout 2022.

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Personal Musings: The Power of Words

We use the word to curse, to blame, to find guilt, to destroy. Of course, we also use it in the right way, but not too often. Mostly we use the word to spread our personal poison – to express anger, jealousy, envy, and hate. The word is pure magic – the most powerful gift we have as humans – and we use it against ourselves.

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements

The power of words. According to Brené Brown, language is what allows us to tap into our emotions, and words are the building blocks that shape and give meaning to what we experience as human beings. Words can heal, and words can also destroy. Back in 2017, when I started this blog, I was just coming through a difficult realization. I saw that my decisions had been made out of fear and led me to unhappiness. I was living based on rationality and logic, pursuing an international career in academia while ignoring my dreams of writing, and the need to explore difficult questions. What are we doing here? Why do we look like rats in a cage? Are we alive, or are we pretending to live?

I felt really anguished at that time and yet, at some point, I reminded myself of the questions I had to make to leave such a dark place. What makes me happy? What brings me joy? What do I really love to do? I knew that if I could answer these questions, I would find a way to feel whole again, and overcome the disconnection I was feeling and being haunted by. The disconnection was the fruit of living a life based not on my dreams, talents, and potential, but on what was socially more acceptable and reasonable. The reasonable way seemed to be to buckle up and press forward. It felt wrong deep inside me, but there was no one around to validate my inner vision – and that was my big mistake.

I knew I didn’t fit in, but I presumed I had to keep on trying. The world kept me thinking there was no place for dreamers and wanderers. Books told me otherwise, but then there was reality. I tried to compromise and turned back to writing, which was my happiest place. To write was to go within and dissect what was going on. It was my source of meditation because my writing was close to automatic. I would stare at a blank screen, feel my heart, and then let my fingers do the work. That’s how I found my well-being, and that’s how I started blogging more consistently. The more I wrote and shared my existential quests with others, the more I could understand myself. In the process, I met people with similar experiences, and, when you find yourself on a path less traveled, it’s very rewarding when you find fellow travelers along the way.

Writing became my portal to find resonance and, through that portal, I began to make other changes in my life. I noticed it was up to me to create and shape the world I wished I could live in. I didn’t have to put my ideas and aspirations in a bag. They were not that outrageous and there were people who also wanted to live in a world where reason and emotion meet to provide a more balanced life. It was not silly to want to slow down and craft a different lifestyle. I was not ridiculous for being different and wanting different experiences in my life. These ideas started to boil, and they set me on a path toward moving from survival to thriving.

My writing grew, and so did my audience. I never wrote for numbers, because the real magic was when someone would say my words had resonated and provided some dose of healing. I was first and foremost writing to understand myself better but, through that process, I was also providing a healing space for others, and that’s when I saw, once again, that words have power. The more I wrote, the more I reflected. The more I reflected, the more I healed. The more I healed, the more aligned my decisions were, and it was nice to share the journey with my audience.

I went from what my supervisor called a star-rising mindfulness researcher to a Ph.D. dropout. I swapped a well-paid job as an assistant lecturer in a luxurious university for a low-paid job as a school monitor in a toxic school. I left England and moved back to Portugal. I became happier with each decision I took toward living a life more aligned with who I am. I knew writing and teaching about what I loved the most, the human experience, was deeply carved in my destiny from an early age and it was time to take a leap of faith.

Then the last two years happened. The world confirmed every premise ever written in a social psychology textbook, and my life got to a halt. I didn’t give in to the same fears people around me were choosing to face, but I did let fear rule my life and my decisions. I realized my words could heal others but also hurt those close to me, or even be turned into weapons to hurt me. When you write and share about existential matters, and you bring forward examples of your own journey, you will likely hurt people, so I began limiting myself to more informative blogs.

I didn’t come back to the beginning, because I now know more about myself and what makes me happy, but I have experienced a sort of disconnection from myself, and my well-being has suffered. While writing these words, I now realize I had another important lesson waiting for me. Although I knew my inner vision was shared by some, I hadn’t fully grasped that you can’t live your life waiting on the external world to back you up. You can’t wait on external validation to feel confident or comfortable about the path you know in your gut that is yours to take.

You can’t choose to live in fear and expect to achieve great lengths in your happiness and well-being journey. You can’t wait on other people to reassure you of who you are or to let you know what, when, and how you should go about meeting your personal legend. My calling is to write about human existence and share it with others. That gives me a reason to wake up excited about life, so why on earth would anyone give up on that? Only because of fear! Fear of hurting others, fear of being rejected, fear of being hurt!

So many fears. No human being can be whole by choosing to live in fear. Fear splits us. I’ve done a disservice to you and myself by living in fear for my own words. My words are my journey and my journey is part of my identity. I’m now choosing to live by the first agreement stated in the book The Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word. This means I will allow myself to use my words again, assuming the responsibility that comes with it, and I will also do my best to have them guided by truth and love. Great responsibility comes when we use our words, but so does great liberation. Thank you for reading my words.

Is Happiness a Realistic Goal?

realistic goal and a desirable one. It is rather impossible to be happy all the time, of course, and it is rather difficult to be in a pure state of bliss on a regular basis. However, we can aim to develop skills and strategies that enhance our level of consciousness.

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