On Intuition and Fear… My Surprising Results from a Risky Experiment

I went through a period recently where I tried not listening to my intuition. To be clear, I did this on purpose.

I know this sounds counterproductive, but I am certain that this was a necessary experience — or perhaps better put, experiment — for me.

Intuition is a hot topic, particularly with the spiritually inclined among us. What is its role? How do we tune into it? How do we discern between what is intuition and what isn’t?

It is this last question that, in my view, creates a lot of confusion and anxiety. I find this to be especially so when we are trying to discern between intuition and what seems like her exact opposite. Fear.

To be honest, I thought I had this one figured out. I am no stranger to what fear feels like in my body, with her constricted and urgent grip. And, gratefully, I am also well aquatinted with intuition, marked by her clarity and gentle affirmative touch.

With the somatics on lock, I thought I was good to go. No need to grapple with this question ever again. Right?

But when it comes to something as subtle as intuition, fear can very easily muddy this watery realm.

And like so many lessons in this life, we very rarely learn the whole thing all at once. Most of the time we learn in layers and spirals, moving forward and back, forward and back, in the great dance of becoming.

The thing to know about fear is that she only shows up when the emotional stakes are high. She can’t be bothered by our apathy or disinterest. There is nothing for her to hook into here. 

But when it comes to the parts of our lives that we care for deeply, this is ideal territory for fear to take root. Like an invasive species, she can overwhelm us with her vines of doubt and uncertainty.  The more we try to twist and writhe our way to freedom by attempting to “figure things out,” the tighter and tighter those vines become. 

The irony here, and perhaps intentionally so, is that this invasion cuts us off from the instrument of intuitive discernment itself. Our heart.

So the question then becomes, “Is this fear, or is this intuition?” 

And round and round we go.

I imagine you may be wondering by now how my experiment turned out. I suppose my honest answer is that I am still trying to make sense of it. But, one thing I can say for sure is that I learned a lot about fear. And she isn’t quite what she seems…

Fear may be one of the most misunderstood parts of us. In fact, after this experiment, I don’t think she is an ‘invasive species,’ at all. I think that she is just as integral to our being as any other part of us, including our intuition. Which she may not be so separate from after all. 

Like so many matters relating to psyche, there are no hard and fast rules. There are no rigid categories or boundaries that say that fear is never intuition or that intuition is always free from fear. 

What if they can actually work together? What if fear is not so much the enemy of intuition, but rather her ally? One that is here to attune us even more finely to that small, quiet voice inside?

For most of us, when fear shows up the first thing we want to do is anything to get her to go away. We rationalize, convince ourselves she isn’t there, or even throw every single spiritual practice in the books at her in hopes she’ll flee. 

But if fear is a part us — a true and genuine aspect of our being — then doesn’t that mean she deserves to be listened to? To be heard? Tended to? Even honored?

I know it seems so simple and obvious, but if fear is present then this means there is a part of us that is scared. And it is likely that this scared part is a much younger version of ourselves who has been feeling this way for a very, very long time. 

When we shift our perspective on fear in this way, how can we not soften to her? How can we not reach out our hand and help to free her from those gnarled and twisted vines that have held her so tight? 

This is how we liberate the fear within us. By listening. Really, really listening. 

In fact, this may be all she ever needed in the first place. 

Fear cannot be steamrolled or powered through or white knuckled. She must be given the space to exist and to speak. To let us know what she is so afraid of. And what she might need to move forward in a way that feels right and good and true. 

This is exactly how fear points the way right into the heart of our own intuition. 

I have a feeling that the results of this experiment may always be emerging and shifting and changing. But I now know that fear is a holy presence within me. And I will try to receive her with a little more grace next time she comes around.

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