When we let our ego steer the ship, we run the risk of chasing goals that don’t matter and creating a life that is not aligned with our true values. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill your soul’s purpose and live a full and meaningful life if you are not listening to your intuition.
But when it comes to making choices in life, how can we tell which is which? I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost sleep over this question.
Here’s how I have learned to tell the difference between my ego and intuition.
First, what is the difference between ego and intuition?
First, let’s get to know ego and intuition a bit more.
What is the ego’s job?
The ego’s job is our survival so its identity is rooted in fear and a scarcity mindset. It assumes everything is out to get us, so it creates a persona that it believes will keep us alive in the scary, unsafe, untrustworthy, judgmental world.
Because of our ego’s scarcity mindset, it is competitive and focuses on getting ahead in the external world. How does this affect us? The ego tries to preoccupy us with how to appear like a wealthy, attractive, successful winner to the rest of the world.
So, when you feel a stab of jealousy when your friend announces she is engaged or just bought a house, that doesn’t mean you don’t care about your friend’s happiness. It means your ego, which automatically compares others’ success and accomplishments with your own, is getting in the way.
What is intuition’s job?
Intuition’s job is to help us live our truth and live the most authentic, loving, and joyful life possible. Unlike the ego, intuition operates from a place of love and abundance.
It does not preoccupy itself with the external world (it knows our ego has that covered, and then some!), so it focuses on showing us what truly makes us happy from within and encourages us to share our joy and love and creative expression with the world.
So, when you were ten years old and wanted to be a teacher more than anything in the world because you couldn’t think of anything more enjoyable than reading and learning and sharing that knowledge with others, that was your intuition. When you grew older and realized that being a teacher is not the most prestigious (and certainly not the highest paying) job in the world and you started to set your sights on law school, that was your ego taking over.
Okay, so how can we tell which is talking to us at any given time?
In the words of renowned speaker, author, and law of attraction coach Bob Proctor, “ego speaks loudest and first.” Especially if you deal with fear, low self-esteem, or depression, since negative thought patterns and self-talk are amped up in those states.
It takes practice to learn to sit tight and dig a little deeper to see if a more authentic truth lies beneath our obnoxious ego. But the distinction is perceptible and gets more so with attention and practice (and, let’s be honest, therapy).
Ego is in the head; intuition is not.
If we pay attention, we will notice that the ego resides in our head. It is analytical, seemingly logical, and when egoic thoughts are taking place, it is a heady feeling. We feel like our thoughts are racing, like we are creating lists and pro-con columns in our head.
Intuition, on the other hand, comes from the heart or the gut. It is a safe, warm, deep-down knowing, rather than a rushed, rationalizing feeling. In fact, intuition sometimes seems irrational or inexplicable when it speaks to us. You just “know.”
For example, when you’re watching TV and a character reminds you of an old college friend and you instinctively grab for your phone to shoot them a brief “thinking of you” text, that’s your intuition. When you type out your message and then reread it four times wondering, “What if they think I’m weird? It’s been three years. This is too random. What if they think I’m trying to flirt with them!? Or need money or something?” that’s your ego.
If it feels negative, it’s probably your ego.
Like I said above, intuition is a warm, safe feeling. Even when intuition is nudging you out of your comfort zone, it is usually accompanied by a positive, thrilling feeling, rather than a rush of fear or panic. In fact, even when your intuition is telling you to do something scary or hard (like leave a job or a relationship), there will be a sense of light and liberation that comes with it.
This difference in quality can be sensed in the “volume” of the message too. Ego shouts and demands your attention. But intuition nudges and whispers. That’s why it’s harder to listen to your intuition in our fast-paced and competitive world.
And finally, here’s an essential question to ask yourself when you are not sure if a message you are receiving is from your intuition or just your ego:
“Is this message one of abundance that will lead me to the highest and best version of myself, or is it one of fear, based on an outcome or situation that I’m afraid may happen?”
If you have more tips and tricks for telling the difference between your ego and intuition, drop them in the comments below!