Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

Telling the Difference Between Intuition and Fear

 
Judith Orloff - Monday, October 17, 2011

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

In "Emotional Freedom" my approach to transforming fear has two stages. First, take stock of what makes you afraid and distinguish irrational fears from legitimate intuitions. Second, take appropriate steps to heed protective fears and transform the others with courage. At times you may foresee real danger, but more frequently unproductive fears clobber you. Therefore as a general rule, train yourself to question fears tied to low self-esteem; we’re all worthy of what’s extraordinary. For example, it’s right to question the fear that you’re too emotionally damaged to love; even the severely wounded can have their hearts opened again. True intuitions will never put you down or support destructive attitudes or behavior. Here are some guidelines for distinguishing legitimate fears from irrational ones:

How To Tell Fear From Intuition

Signs of a Reliable Intuition

  • Conveys information neutrally, unemotionally  
  • Feels right in your gut
  • Has a compassionate, affirming tone
  • Gives crisp, clear impressions that are “seen” first, then felt
  • Conveys a detached sensation, like you’re in a theater watching a movie
  • Signs of an Irrational Fear

  • Is highly emotionally charged
  • Has cruel, demeaning, or delusional content
  • Conveys no gut-centered confirmation or on-target feeling
  • Reflects past psychological wounds
  • Diminishes centeredness and perspective
  • For comparison’s sake, I’ll share radically different examples of how I use the above criteria. One morning I got two calls from frightened patients who both claimed to be hearing voices. Truly a typical day in my office! The first came from Bill, a schizophrenic who’d been skimping on his meds. Bill’s inner “voice” kept haranguing him, insisting he was a bad person, that his food was poisoned, that his son was being raped again by the grandmotherly babysitter. Believing these “delusions” (false beliefs unsubstantiated by fact), he was absolutely unhinged. So Bill kept calling the cops, who sent a squad car out twice, but found no threat. Tolerant but tiring of this, the officers warned that if he contacted them again, they’d haul him off to a psychiatric hospital. My other patient, Jean, had been coping with despair about her brother suffering from end-stage AIDS. Jean’s inner “voice” said to immediately fly to New York to join him, though he’d recently been stable. True of authentic intuitions, it came through clear-as-a-bell, oddly matter-of-fact and followed the typical progression of being “seen first,” then felt.

    Both patients asked me, “What should I do?’ I urged Bill to take his meds and offered reassurance about his safety, a tack that had lessened his fear many times in our decade of working together. Jean, however, I supported in buying a plane ticket because her intuition felt so imminent, so right. Fortunately, she did, despite the expense and inconvenience to her job. That week her brother took a sudden turn for the worse, slipped into a coma and died within hours. Heart-breaking as witnessing his death was for Jean, she was able to be at her brother’s side in those precious last moments.  

    Try to separate unhealthy fears from intuition. Though Bill’s case was extreme, you may also have some fears that belittle you or cause you to misinterpret danger. Perhaps in a fit of anger your ex-wife called you “useless” and you believed it. This is not intuition. Nor is being frightened of having cancer whenever a brown spot appears on your skin. Also, be skeptical of long-standing fears, say of heights; these are typically not premonitions.

    If you’re en emotional empath, it can be especially tricky to ascertain which fears are authentic, helpful intuitions. Because you tend to absorb other people’s emotions, you may pick up their fear and think it’s your own. To avoid this, always ask yourself, “Is the fear mine or someone else’s?” One dependable way to find out is to distance yourself from the source. Move at least twenty feet away. If you experience relief, it’s likely you’re perceiving another’s fear. Although it’s fine to absorb courage and all positive emotions from others because they’ll strengthen you, you don’t want to absorb negativity. Move away, and keep releasing extraneous fear by exhaling it until the feeling passes.

    While some apprehensions may be empathically linked to another’s feelings or, like Jean’s, are distinct intuitive warnings, the more garden variety ones reflect ingrained negative psychological patterns. To resolve these, you must know where they come from and do what’s necessary to loosen their hold.

    Watch Dr. Orloff's Video on How to Transform Fear

    SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

     
    Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

    Comments
    Lori Glier commented on 20-Feb-2012 10:22 AM
    Love this book and you inspire me so, Judith! Great blog, for me my fear here is being accepted within the arts community, as for I have no background or education within the arts . Just lived experiences and have healed profoundly through the arts , and
    therapy, and meds. My intuition says to leap and bound and speak from my inner heart and soul . Not to worry about what others think and with giving my healing arts a voice I believe that will be a very powerful tool of self growth and also education for many.
    Thanks for listening! Love , light , Lori
    Farra commented on 21-Mar-2012 10:09 AM
    Thank you so much for this inspirational article Judith! Understanding the difference between fear and intuition can be the best way to boost our confidence in making the right decision. Marie Forleo also tackles this same hot issue which you can check
    on this link http://marieforleo.com/2011/08/fear-intuition-difference/
    Dermatologist brisbane commented on 25-Jun-2012 04:36 AM
    You have some great information, I am grateful you have decided to share it with the rest of us. Thank you.
    beats by dre outlet commented on 03-Jul-2012 03:34 AM
    At the network’s I wandered. By chance after your web site, read your post. Very fruitful,thank you for sharing. On the Internet, it is hard to find useful information. Thank you
    beats by dre outlet commented on 03-Jul-2012 03:37 AM
    I agree with your Blog and I will be back to check it more in the future so please keep up your work. I love your content & the way that you write. It looks like you have been doing this for a while now, how long have you been blogging for?
    Teri commented on 10-Jul-2012 04:40 PM
    Thank you for sharing the gifts you have, Dear Doctor. I am very much an emotional empath and your work has helped me tremendously in identifying with all that I am. Compassion for myself and others is now my immediate default when stray emotion bombards
    and confuses me. I am able to gently center myself in peace when I am overwhelmed with emotion I don't understand knowing it has nothing to do with me. Thank you very much. Teri
    Monster Beats commented on 27-Sep-2012 07:01 AM
    It's in fact very difficult in this active life to listen news on Television, thus I only use internet for that reason, and take the latest news.
    Anonymous commented on 11-Jan-2013 11:27 PM
    I was finding some other stuff but suddenly i see this website so when i read just one line and i am impressed.

    Post A Comment





    Captcha Image

    CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE DR ORLOFF'S BLOGS WITH A RSS FEED

    Empaths / Highly Sensitive People

    Intuition & Dreams

    Relationships

    Energy Vampires

    Emotions

    Personal Growth

    Health / Well-Being

    Recent Posts

    Archive