Here’s a scenario: Intuition tells you something is a no—maybe you get a gut feeling of anxiety or nausea, or you repeatedly dread or feel drained by something/someone, or resistance shows up for you in some other way—but when you think about it, ego tells you that the likeable, good, right, comfortable or rational thing to do would be to say yes, what do you do?
They say we teach what we need to learn. It’s easy for me to write about what it means to trust myself and tap into my intuition (the voice of the soul). And I can authentically say that I feel connected to myself in this way; guided, clear on my path, purpose and the work I am here to do. But there is a big difference between feeling and hearing intuitive pings and acting on them. For me, acting on those sensations and whispers, especially when they’re at odds with the conditioning I’ve received, has been a big learning path.
I’ve noticed that this friction between intuition and what I think I should do shows up most strongly when the intuitive choice feels like the hard choice—i.e., when doing or saying the thing that feels true also feels wrong because it goes against deeply engrained (learned) personality traits, family throughlines, ways of relating, what feels safe/stable, or what I think someone else wants for or from me.
Ego is Just the Surface of Who You Are
I like to think of my ego like a shell that I wear that is made up of all of the things I have been admired or rewarded for throughout my life, especially as a child. I love my ego, it’s a necessary part of my humanity and has served me greatly, but I get into trouble when I mistake it for my guiding light.
There’s a Buddhist analogy that I find helpful: Imagine you’re looking out at the ocean from the shore. Sometimes the ocean appears turbulent, other times there are small ripples, other times its completely still, but no matter how it appears, there is always so much more than meets the eye. There is a depth and complexity that we cannot see unless we dive in, intentionally with goggles, and are willing to take the time to bravely explore its depths.
In this analogy, you are the ocean and your ego the surface of the ocean. It’s often all we see when we look at ourselves, all we hear when making choices in life, but it’s just the surface, just a protective shell. I’ve noticed that when I’m not doing work to connect with the deeper aspects of my being, my shell feels empty and brittle; my perspective becomes limited, closed, linear, and much is missing, unincorporated, unexpressed, unfelt.
I’ve also noticed that when my ego is dominating the conversation, it feels impossible to trust my intuitive pings when they feel like the hard choice because my mind keeps coming up with reasons why I should, shouldn’t or can’t.
Listening To Our Intuition is An Important Part of Wellbeing
When we’re not speaking and acting in alignment with our soul and intuitive knowing, it puts a strain on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. At least this has been my experience.
When I am showing the world something that internally I feel at odds with, no matter how healthy I eat and well take care of my body, my skin breaks out. I feel stressed, anxious, stagnant, unable to move projects forward in a meaningful way, or do my work well. Life generally feels harder.
For me, cultivating a two-way dialogue between my mind (ego, thinking) and my intuition (soul, feeling) through writing, meditation, embodiment, and spiritual practice, while integrating and honoring both, has been crucial in developing a more holistic picture of what is true for me; what I choose to let go of, say, do, not do. And this inner work has helped me learn how to bravely trust my intuition and what life is showing me, even when it feels like the harder thing to do.
Women, if you’re looking for more support, check out my Self-Care Series from Busy Women.
About the Author
Allie Andrews is founder/ owner of OmBody Health. A recovering busy addict herself, she is passionate about teaching busy people to rush less, create space for self-care, and mindfully flow between doing and being to be more effective, creative, and purposeful. She is a Certified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach, and experienced meditator who has been practicing regularly for 10 years.