Understanding intuition vs ego. How to know the guidance from within.
One question I often get asked by my students when I teach yoga philosophy is how can we tell if the inner guidance we receive is intuitive or from the ego. I’m sure most of us have received intuitive nudges at times, actually we almost always do I believe. And we also experience ego driven perception, but how do we recognise the two?
The truth is that it is indeed quite difficult, at least in the beginning. Both are very convincing and feel like the right thing to do at the time. But with patience and practicing meditation, stillness and silence, we can tune into our intuition more and feel more connected with it. Therefore once we realise its vibration, we know.
Let’s look at some key differences between ego vs intuitive guidance.
Intuition is often the first or initial inner response or impression we get of a person or a situation. It is the first nudge we receive when making a difficult decision or trying to make sense of something. It’s like an instant knowledge that comes to us, most of the time felt in our gut. Ego is what follows. Ego is based on fear and individual safety, doing something to remain comfortable and not wanting to recognise anything beyond it. Often intuition is very quick but also profound. Ego keeps lingering and it feels almost like an alarm. Ego comes after the initial intuitive guidance because it does not recognise anything higher than itself, so it quickly comes in to defend itself.
Sometimes intuition simply doesn’t make sense. And it’s not meant to because it comes from our higher self/the soul and not from our mental faculties. This is where the confusion starts and when we can make fear based decisions. We receive a gut feel that something feels or doesn’t feel right, but it usually lasts only for a few seconds. Because the ego is so quick to act, it starts to interfere. Then the intellect comes in and starts to analyse the situation to try and make sense of it based on previous experiences. But intuition is not something we can analyse, it is an inner knowing and the moment it comes, we feel certain it is true. Only when the mind gets involved, we lose this awareness. So staying present and open is very important.
Intuition always guides us towards the best possible situation for our soul’s evolution and growth. Even if it means taking a “risk”, although this is perceived as a risk only by the mind because it is based on fear/ego. So the ego wants to us remain the same, comfortable, defensive, stuck in a pattern because it doesn’t like or feel comfortable with change. Only our higher self wants the best for the journey, because it recognises no fear or any other mental based constructs or conditioning. Intuition knows, ego runs away from.
When we intuitively receive guidance to make big decisions of transformation, which ask us to change some things about how we live or perceive the world, we somehow surrender and trust the unknown. And we feel certain that it will work out, even if we don’t have it all figured out yet. This is intuition. The consistency of these changes depends on how well we use our will-power and not let ego interfere because it will and it will try to stop us. And at some point we will talk ourselves out of it and make sense that it is better to remain in the same situation, just so that we don’t have to effort all these new aspects.
Often when we get an intuitive guidance, we instantly trust it. There is no rush to do anything, it doesn’t alarm us. It just feels right. There is an inner knowing to the realisation. Ego driven behaviour and decisions are usually quite impulsive and we tend to react quickly. We want to rush into it because there is an underlying aspect of fear. Even the body will start to feel this fear by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, in the same way that we would if we were feeling in danger or defensive.
In some cases, intuition can also give us physical clues if for example we are around somebody who can cause us harm (verbally, physically or through their intention). Or maybe that something doesn’t feel right if we say yes to an offer. But there is still a sense of mental clarity. It’s just that the feeling is slightly unsteady.
The best way to improve our intuitive connection is to practice daily stillness in silence. Only when the mind is clear, we can access this incredible inner wisdom within.