[Case Study]: Emotions vs Intuition

So how can you tell when to listen to your emotions and when not to?

It’s another one of those great questions that came up in a recent webinar.

Because there are times when your emotions are going, “Yeah, go do it” and it feels right and you just go do it. But then there are times that they are going “No, this is bad for you” and it might stop you in your tracks. But in reality, if you can get past the feeling, it turns out to be a good thing.

So how do you reconcile the difference?

How do you know when it’s a feeling that you’ve just got to work your way through?

Or when it’s your intuition and you should stop and listen.

I think that there’s a vast difference between your emotions and your intuition. And we need to understand that first before we can come to some solutions.

Which gives us a great opportunity to explore some really deep stuff.

In my view what happens with emotions is that they come and they go. We get angry for a period of time. Probably you should be angry for fifteen minutes, but we can be angry for hours, or weeks, and even months.

But emotions, they do pass through.

Unless of course we hang on to them, or we fight them too much, or involve ourselves in them.

But an emotion should pass through.

The classic illustration that I use is when a comedian cracks a joke, we don’t laugh for two weeks. We laugh for a couple of minutes. Then they’ve got to crack another one.

Humour or joy is experienced like any other emotion.

It comes along. You feel it, and it passes.

Emotions are energy in motion. You have them, and they move on.

A lot of us get confused because when the emotion passes then we say, “I wasn’t really feeling it because now I’m not.”

The truth is those six basic emotions; joy, peace, love, anger, sadness, fear – all versions of them – are meant to surge through you. That’s the way you are, and that’s the way you’re responding to the world.

And each of them serves a really good function.

Fear for example is great because it stops you picking up rattle-snakes. And it stops you playing with traffic. And it stops you jumping off things. And all sorts of other stuff. If we were totally fearless we would probably be dead fairly quickly.

Anger is to stop us from being walked on.

And sadness is because we’ve lost something. We’re grieving because something we value is missing or gone.

The three so-called negative emotions have really important functions in our life.

But emotions are meant to be experienced and then we move on.

Intuition on the other hand is something that doesn’t go away.

You’ve probably heard it said a thousand times, “I knew that guy was no good.”

What people mean when they say this is they finally got proof. It was something which was not an emotion, it was instead a sense of knowing in the background – an awareness if you like – that things weren’t right. But they couldn’t put their finger on it.

The reason they weren’t saying anything is because there was no logical reason behind it. They couldn’t explain what they felt. It was just there.

Where we get confused is we call both of these things ‘feelings’ because they all go through the same mechanism, which is your body.

When we meet someone who is dishonest then you might be aware of a slight anxiety. That’s actually your body, through your emotions, letting you know everything is not cool, everything is not right. Your intuition should be reluctant to make deals with this person, be reluctant to trust this person. Check that what they’re saying is actually is true, that kind of thing. To make sure you don’t necessarily run with what you hear.

That’s why you hear people saying things like, “Well everything you said was fine, but I just didn’t trust it. It just didn’t work for me.”

I would think that this is the distinction between emotions which are shorter lived and intuition which is this deep inner knowingness that actually doesn’t have a specific feeling. It’s just that you can’t put your finger on it. You can’t say it’s sadness or it’s anger or it’s fear or it’s whatever. It’s kind of like ‘I think I know something here but I can’t explain why I know’.

The thing is I think that we want our intuition to speak up like a stop sign or a go sign. But in actual fact it’s just this tap on the shoulder.

So in order to notice this gentle tapping, in order to recognise the difference between our emotions and our intuition, I quite often recommend exercises.

If we go back thirty years when we came across this material I also had to realise or practice the difference between these things. What I had to do was learn how to let anger go. Let anger come along, do its thing and pass on. Because it tended to be my background position. Any background position tends to blur everything. How can you be sensitive to all the other feelings when you’ve got one that’s sort of running all the time? I did all of that. Then when it came to intuition it was a question of how do I put myself in a position where I need to make a call to go left or right when it’s going to affect the outcome.

We came across a couple of things and basically Mary did this.

I found her one day in Woolies, in front of the cabinet with all the margarine and butter and all that stuff in it.

And she was just standing there.

As a pretty efficient person I’m thinking to myself, “This is a bit of a waste of time.” So I said “What are you doing?”

And Mary said, “I’m waiting for one of these things to talk to me.”

Naturally I said, “What????”

She said, “Well, it doesn’t matter what margarine you take home, it’s all the same crap probably out of the same factory, probably with the same ingredients. And it doesn’t matter which butter you take because it’s all primarily a cow and probably the only variance is how much salt that kind of thing. It’s not a life changing decision. I can’t lose here, so I’m just waiting to see how my intuition talks to me. Does it talk to me in terms of I like the one that’s yellow with the green writing? Does it talk to me in term of get that one?”

And Mary was prepared to wait until she got some physical sensation.

Because what she was saying to her intuition was, “I want you to speak a bit more clearly and a bit more loudly. I’m willing to listen to what the signals are.”

She was prepared to stand there for quite a long time.

So look for any exercises where you can make a choice between left or right, but you’re not going to suffer any loss by either one.

Most of us wait until there are big momentous decisions to make and then go, “I wish my intuition would tell me”.

But we need to prepare ahead of time with little exercises that there’s no real consequence.

We were driving in the country one time and we were lost. So at the T intersection Mary just pulled up. I said, “Are you going left or right?” She said, “I don’t know yet. I’m waiting till there’s a sign”.

And Mary was prepared to sit there until she got an urge to go one way or the other.

So give yourself exercises to practise.

Which seat do I sit on in a bus?

Which car are we going to buy?

Which beach will we go to today?

If it’s which beach are we going to go to day, it’s probably logic kicks in. So why don’t you just dump the logic and go, “I don’t know. I’m just going to toss a coin,” or “I’m just going wait and see what I feel”.

We need to put ourselves in situations where, you’re still going out to the beach, but which one you go to shouldn’t mess up what you wanted to do. Instead it’s a chance for your intuition to have a role in the decision making so that you are actually training your intuition.

Well you’re actually training yourself in hearing the voice because there’s not going to be a voice.

The difference between an emotion and your intuition is difficult to tell because they’re both emotions, they speak through the emotional language. But you can train yourself to know the difference.