Those who follow their intuition tend to have a more enjoyable and meaningful life. Those who follow their ego may well be successful in many ways, but they’re more likely to find themselves wondering why they’re not as happy as they think they should be.
Learning to determine whether you’re being guided by intuition or ego can make a huge difference in your life. While there are no hard and fast rules to make the distinction, there are tendencies that can serve as a guide.
1. Ego-based decisions are fear-based and focused on keeping you safe. If you find yourself sat at your desk thinking resentful thoughts such as “this place would fall apart without me”, that’s ego. If you choose not to ask your boss for a pay rise, that’s ego.
2. Ego-based decisions typically have emotion connected to them.
A choice made from a place of intuition feels “right” and often lacks logic. You might be doing the dishes and have a brain wave for a new business idea. The resulting battle in your head is your ego fighting back.
3. Ego-based decisions consider external results.
Are you starting a business because you want to be rich? Or are you starting a business because you’re excited about the process and the product/service you’re bringing into the world? Are you taking action to gain certain results, or does the action itself provide sufficient satisfaction?
4. Ego-based decisions involve rationalisation.
Your ego is excellent at convincing you that its choice is the right one. “I shouldn’t write that business plan; the bank won’t lend me the money. I’m not deserving of this. That kind of ambition isn’t for people like me. I should stay at my corporate job. I’ll have a nice life this way. Less risk.”
5. Intuition doesn’t judge. A thought or decision arising from intuition doesn’t involve judgment statements about right or wrong, good or bad. Intuitive ideas feel calm, relaxed, and peaceful, ego-based statements tend to be more aggressive, insistent and louder.
6. Is the expected gratification coming from within, or is it external? Would you make the same choice if no one would ever know? Would you purchase that Chanel handbag if no one ever knew you owned it? Or do you simply love the designer and love the idea of owning a beautiful high-quality bag? Are you driven by money and admiration or by personal satisfaction?
While the ego can be very limiting, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s wrong. Remember that the ego’s motivation is based mainly on self-preservation; it believes that it has your best interests at heart and wants to keep you safe. Ignoring the ego can be challenging as it uses fear to influence you – it’s only natural to avoid anything anxiety-inducing and retreat to a place of comfort.
The takeaway is to realise when fear is holding you back from something bigger and better – when pushing yourself will reap the greatest reward. Sometimes fear is keeping you from doing something foolish, but more often than not, it just wants to keep you in the comfort zone.
Before choosing which voice to follow, review these tips to help make a decision that will bring you lasting happiness.
Unsure on how to get started tuning into your Inner Voice? Click here to learn more about Inner Voice Sessions.
Sam is the founder of Small and Mighty Co. A transformational coaching business and marketing consultancy specialising in supporting small and mighty creatives grow with confidence and achieve their dreams, in business and beyond.
An accredited NLP Practitioner Sam’s specialities include mindset, motivation, marketing and modern-day consumer behaviour and is well known across the small business industry for her savvy straight-talking advice; with regular speaking appearances at major events across the UK and features on the BBC and Channel 5 News.