This is a new concept for most people as we don't often take the time to really dive in and listen to what is going on inside of us.
The fact is, many times we can be internally conflicted. Having a desire to try something new, say take singing lessons, but also having so much fear and internal chatter about why you can't do that new thing that you are paralyzed - "you won't be good enough", "people will think you are a bad singer" etc. The two sides of this tug-of-war is your ego and your intuition. Many other names could be used for each - such as inner critic, saboteur, vampire voices, superego for your ego and inner wisdom, your captain, your truth for your intuition - just pick the term that you like best.
Your ego is the part of you that wants you to be liked, be successful, fit in, taken care of and actively goes out of it's way to give you "helpful" thoughts to make sure you are safe. Thoughts like 'you need to be thinner', 'people won't like you if you do x..', 'people will think you are stupid, if you ask that question', etc. These thoughts are doing a great job of keeping you safe from hypothetical ridicule and were also necessary when you were a child to act in ways your parents approved of.. but now they are less than useful and are actually holding you back from what you truly want.
Your intuition is your inner wisdom, the part of you that knows what you truly want and need and just wants you to feel at peace. Often thought of as your gut or heart instincts. Your intuition has a softer voice than your ego and it can be easier to ignore at first. But over time, if you are not listening, your intuition will start to make a fuss and you'll have more internal resistance about where you are. You'll have a strong longing or feeling that you need to be doing this other thing, but your ego is going to justify reasons why that doesn't make sense. That feeling isn't going to go away until you start trusting and listening to your intuition.
Taming your Ego:
Great, so all we need to do is ignore our egos and do what our intuition says to do? Yes, but it will definitely take some practice to get there. We often don't realize our ego is criticizing us until we take a step back and look at our thoughts. The key to getting out from your ego's grasp is to be able to identify when it is speaking, and justify why that doesn't make sense.
Ways to know if your ego is currently beating on you:
- Do you feel bad for no apparent reason?
- Are you making excuses or justifications for not doing something you want?
- Are you holding some part of you back in your work or social interactions?
- Are you worrying about some future event?
In these situations it is helpful to write down the thoughts that are coming up. You can even draw a picture of your ego or 'saboteur' that is speaking these thoughts to you. Giving it a face and a name will help separate the thoughts from you. Meditation is also very helpful to observe sabotaging thoughts.
Once you've identified the thoughts you can come up with valid arguments for why they have absolutely no merit. "Thank you for your concern Mr. Ego but that thought does not hold up because....".
There are other techniques as well for toning down your ego but the important parts are to call it out and move past it.
Tuning into your Intuition:
Many people are not in practice of listening to their intuition. Their ego has been so bossy for so long that they've accepted its criticism as truth. Your intuition has all the love and knowledge in the universe and will tell you exactly what you need to know when you talk to it.
You can start to practice listening to it by practicing 'gut' decisions. Instead of pondering for a long time, when someone says "What do you want to do tonight?" or "What flavour of ice cream would you like?" just pick whatever comes to you first. Practice it in the little decisions that don't have true consequences. The more you do this, the easier it will be to answer questions with your gut instinct. You'll be able to fill out personal questionnaires quickly because you just know the answers already.
Another exercise for connecting to your intuition would be to simply ask it a question. Sit quietly, with your feet on the floor, place your hands on your heart or over your gut (where ever you connect to more), close your eyes. Ask your question and WAIT. Don't try to answer it - that's the ego... just wait for what comes to you. It will feel peaceful and resonant. You may have to start off with yes or no questions and work your way up to open ended.
Another popular exercise would be to journal to your intuition. Write down a question and again wait for the answer to come. Write down your next question. Have a conversation with it. If you are not used to connecting to your feelings and inner wisdom this will feel cheesy at first - the response from your intuition may seem cheesy to you as well.. but it will be real.
Responses I've received from my intuition have been "go help people" when I asked "what do I do next?", and "to be happy" when I've asked it "what do I want". Messages that may not mean much to outsiders but have actually created a lot of inspiration and movement in my life.
I'm also new to learning about intuition and ego but I find it fascinating. These are the two biggest concepts lately that have really helped shape my behaviour and move me into showing up in the world in an authentic way. I'd love to hear about your experiences with either of them and if any of the exercises worked for you. Leave a comment!