If you want to know the difference between gut instinct and fear, you will need to learn to listen to the difference in signs and thoughts between fear and instinct. Confusing both fear and instinct can lead to you making choices and decisions that restrict rather than broaden your life, that limit rather than expand whatever it is that you are looking to grow.
Although we all know in some form or another what fear is, what do we know about “Gut Instinct” also know as Intuition?
“Intuition” is such a buzzword that almost everyone has their own personal definition of what intuition is. But here is how Rosalle Pulman, Transformational Leadership Coach, describes the definition of intuition in her article Your Gut Feeling: Fear or Intuition that she wrote for the Huggington Post:
I did some research online, and found this straightforward definition:
“Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
And I think this is partly true, but intuition is more then just instinctive. There’s more to it then the instinctive urge to run from danger or to have food and water.
Even though I agree that intuition doesn’t need conscious reasoning, I believe it is not without cognitive elements. It’s more consideration than reasoning though. Intuition uses past knowledge and experiences to assess a situation, as well as a very quick assessment of the present, based on clues and details that may not be obvious to the rational mind, but are definitely there.
Is Your Gut Instinct Telling You Something Is The Right Thing To Do?
As an entrepreneur — or a person who has to take important decisions on a regular basis — fear is a normal process. You may sometimes fear taking a chance on a certain business model. You may fear to spend too much time and effort on something new that doesn’t turn out all that well. And all through life there are a million different situations where fear and gut instinct, or intuition can get mixed up.
Some fears might come from not enough self-esteem, confidence, or simply the unknown… and they hold you back. While other fears are beneficial as they try to protect you against real danger.
However, if your gut instinct tells you something is the right thing to do, but you feel some kind of “fear” you’ll have to work through the fear. The fastest and most effective way to do that is to take immediate action. Your gut instinct (also known as intuition) rarely leads you down the wrong path — and you can learn to hone your intuition so that you really listen when it’s trying to tell you something.
Sometimes your fear can get the best of you and hold you back, even though you’ve prepared, researched and are ready to embark on a new and different way of doing things.
Your instinct tells you that you’ve done everything you can to make the project a success, but there’s that little kernel of fear holding you back. Fear may be based on false evidence, such as someone telling you that your idea won’t work, fear of criticism after your idea is launched or a fear of failing and having to start all over again.
How To Tell The Difference Between Fear and Gut Instinct?
It’s important that you analyze whether your fears are real — or not — and learn how to tell the difference between real fear and a gut instinct. When you’re confused about whether you’re feeling fear or intuition, think about the reality of the situation.
Do your feelings consist of the “fight or flight” sensation that includes a rush of adrenaline, pounding heart and sweating — or, is it your mind doing a number on your emotions?
Here is a video where Oprah Winfrey talks to a victim that was kidnapped and brutally raped by her husband. Moments before the event, she felt her intuition trying to tell her something but neglected to react on it:
It is clear that if the hair on the back of your neck stands up, or you think to yourself, “Hmm, something is off,” you’ll better react immediately and “instinctively” or at least pay extra attention. However, so many times in our lives we will be fooled by fear that is unrealistic, something that has nothing to do with real life threatening danger.
It’s Easy to Mistake Fear for a Gut Instinct
Running and hiding from your feelings won’t do a thing for your emotions or your future success. After all, if you’re not running from a bear in the woods or a real life threatening situation — what you’re really feeling is likely a lack of confidence in yourself, the confidence that you’re doing the right thing.
If your intuition is guiding you forward, it’s best to heed the “advice” and gather up the strength to face and deal with any negative occurrence that might happen. It’s easy to mistake fear for a gut instinct.
Sometimes the symptoms are the same. When you’re faced with false evidence, which appears real to you, you can make the mistake of ignoring your gut instinct and going along with the negative thoughts of fear and failure.
Remember these three things next time you’re faced with wondering whether your feelings are a gut instinct or rational fear:
A fear is often irrational and emotionally draining
A reliable gut instinct conveys information without you really consciously understanding where it comes from
Gut instincts rely on information based on clues and details that may not be obvious to the rational mind, but are definitely there — fear is irrational and involves lack of confidence and self-doubt.
When you suspect that a feeling is an irrational fear rather than a gut instinct, try to transform the fear into a rational thought process by taking action. There’s also a saying you might want to keep handy whenever you’re faced with fear. “Do it afraid — courage will come later.”
Here is a short video from Dimitra Tziova we thought you might appreciate, because she does a really marvelous job at explaining the difference between fear versus instinct. Enjoy:
Huffington Post published a great article by Rosalle Pulman, Transformational Leadership Coach, with some great tips on how to practice and learn to listen to your gut feeling and analyze the difference between Fear or Intuition. You can read it here: Your Gut Feeling: Fear or Intuition