How to Tell the Difference Between Intuition and Fear



While recently discussing a personal problem with a friend, she asked me: “Do you think you feel this way because your spidey senses are going off or is it your fear controlling the situation?” A brilliant and challenging question that naturally led me to another one: How do we tell the difference between intuition and fear?

It’s very easy in the heat of the moment to believe we’re drawing a certain conclusion because our intuition is guiding us in that direction, but that’s not always the case. Fear takes over our decision-making powers a lot more often than we give it credit for, leading us to potentially damaging choices that are based on old hurts and past grievances. Because of that, it’s a good idea if we stop in the moment to ask ourselves whether it’s our intuition or fear leading the way, before making any major life changes.

Fear and intuition are often confused with one another, in part because they can both be described as a “gut feeling.” However, an important distinction between the two is that intuition is more of a knowing sensation, rather than a feeling one.

Another consideration is that intuition does not reside in the past or future — it only involves the present. While fear can conjure up worries of “what if this” and “what if that,” intuition is pretty straightforward.

Intuition is generally unemotional and neutral. You instantly know something in the moment — it comes quickly and feels like a confirmation. Fear, on the other hand, is heavy with emotion. It drips darkness all over the place, feels negative, and often comes with a whole lot of other follow-up concerns.

Fear builds, often turning into physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweaty palms, and a racing mind. And it delivers a decision that brings massive relief. Intuition, however, sounds like a light inner wisdom and doesn’t stick around to activate your amygdala. Instead, intuition points us towards an outcome that makes us feel more comfortable, even if it’s uncertain.

Both intuition and fear are beneficial to our existence. While fear often gets a bad rap, it can protect us in dangerous situations and serve as an excellent motivator to overcoming difficulties and taking risks. But it’s valuable to know whether or not you’re allowing it to rule the way in which you view certain situations. When making choices, taking the time to ask yourself whether it’s fear or intuition guiding you can lead you to a healthier state of well-being.


Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash
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Natasha Ganes is a co-founder of the artists' community TreeHouse, writer, and marketing director. She is a graduate of Chapman University in Southern California, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English Literature. She received her BA in English/Journalism from Madonna University in Michigan. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Pyrokinection, quarter after, Elephant Tree, Every Writer's Resource, and Poetry Pacific. Her nonfiction has appeared all over the place. Visit the TreeHouse site at: