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ego or intuition how to tell the difference

Ego or Intuition? How To Tell The Difference

Being able to tell the difference between your ego and your intuition is a really important skill on the spiritual journey. If you want to lead a more intentional life, being able to distinguish between your egoic voice and your intuitive voice is essential so you can make the best choices for yourself. Of course, you want to avoid making choices out of ego, fear, and self-limiting beliefs as much as possible. Making choices that are aligned with your intuitive guidance and that arise from a place of love, expansion, and freedom will help you create the life you want moving forward.

This post outlines 4 major differences between the voice of your ego and the voice of your intuition. You might also be able to identify specific ways in which your ego and your intuition speak to you based on your own experiences, background, fears, and belief system. Being mindful of these key differences between ego and intuition will make it easier for you to make decisions, set boundaries in relationships, ask for what you want, and act from a place of love instead of fear.

Let’s dive in!


DIFFERENCE #1: Contraction versus expansion

There’s just no getting around this — your ego, like everyone else’s ego, is a selfish being. Your ego’s main goal and purpose is to help you stay alive, make sure you look presentable and are socially accepted, and keep you from taking any risks that might result in a “negative” outcome (for example, trying to write your book or start a new business).

From this place of selfishness, your ego’s objective is to keep you safe and small. To prevent you from causing any conflicts. This means that your ego will often get in the way when you want to stand up for yourself, speak up for yourself, try something new in your life, or ask for what you want. Your ego might say: “Don’t you dare ask for that – you don’t deserve it” or “You better not look stupid – just stay exactly where you are and you’ll be fine.”

Your ego wants you to stay confined and constricted, right where you are. The ego fears change, above all, because it equates change with death. This is why you feel such pain and grief when things end or change in your life – because your ego is perceiving those changes (even if they’re positive!) as its own death.

Your intuition, on the other hand, is aligned with your Higher Self. Actually, your intuition is the method of communication used by Spirit and your Higher Self to send you relevant messages. So the information you receive through this channel will always be about expansion, rather than contraction. This is because your Higher Self you to thrive, and it knows you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Where your ego sees you as a limited, frail, flawed being, your Higher Self sees you as infinitely resourceful, beautiful, and capable of anything.

So, the messages you receive through your intuition will always be about expansion and abundance. For example, your intuitive voice might say: “Yes, try something new – you can do it” or “You are beautiful and successful regardless of the outcome of this – go for it!”

Where your ego makes you doubt yourself and retreat back into your comfort zone, your intuition encourages you to go for your dreams. Your intuition will send you specific guidance so you can take aligned actions in the pursuit of those dreams. For example, your intuition might lead you to a specific book or website or podcast that contains important information for you. Or your intuition might nag at you to send out an email to a mentor who might have great advice for you. Even if taking these actions feels a bit scary, because you’re stepping beyond your comfort zone, your intuition will encourage you to take them anyway.


DIFFERENCE #2: Inner critic versus inner ally

Here are some of the most common statements the ego will use to prevent you from playing big and to keep you small:

  • “You don’t deserve this.”
  • “You’ve always been unlucky.”
  • “You’re inherently flawed, so this will never work.”
  • “Everyone else is more accomplished, smarter, more beautiful, more put together than you.”
  • “You will never amount to anything.”
  • “You better not look stupid.”
  • “You better blend in and be socially accepted.”
  • “Don’t speak up – you’re not smart enough.”
  • “Don’t ask for what you want – you will never get it.”
  • “You’re too [fat, thin, stupid, sick, needy, damaged, lazy, etc] to [make money, have a healthy relationship, make new friends, find a good job, etc].”

As these harsh words reveal, the ego can be a brutal inner critic who puts you down and makes you feel worthless. A sense of unworthiness can only come from your ego, because your Higher Self knows that you’re inherently valuable and lovable, regardless of your past or what you’re currently experiencing.

By speaking these harsh words to you, your ego keeps you playing small and prevents you from trying anything that could transform your life for the better.

Your intuition, in contrast, speaks in a language of self-acceptance, unconditional love for yourself, support, and encouragement. Your intuition speaks gently, sometimes in whispers or hunches. A great way to distinguish between ego and intuition is by noticing how you FEEL when you hear these two voices. The voice of the ego will often make you feel horrible about yourself, as though you’ll never amount to anything and you’re totally flawed. The voice of your intuition will make you feel hope, excitement, and a sense that you CAN try new things in your life.

Your intuition will sound more like this:

  • “You can do this.”
  • “You can try this and see what happens.”
  • “You have the inner resources to deal with this.”
  • “You are inherently loving and lovable.”
  • “It’s ok to make a mistake – you’re human.”
  • “There’s no such thing as failure – only life lessons.”
  • “You can be authentically yourself and not worry about other people’s reactions.”
  • “It’s ok to not conform to society’s expectations.”
  • “You are a trailblazer and a truth teller.”
  • “Asking for what you want is a powerful form of self-care – go for it!”
  • “You deserve beautiful, amazing things in your life.”

If you want to explore how to clearly communicate with your Guides through your intuition, check out my post on 5 Ways to Access Your Intuition and Communicate With Your Spirit Guides.


DIFFERENCE #3: Focused on the past/future versus focused on the present moment

Your ego often uses material from the past – like memories and past experiences – to keep you hostage in the present and scare you from taking risks. For example, if you had a negative or toxic relationship in the past, your ego might tell you that you’re flawed and damaged and that you’ll never have a healthy relationship in the present.

In this way, your ego uses whatever memories and images it can dig up to remind you of your inadequacy and keep you stuck in the past. Your ego also digs up these painful memories to keep you in a victimhood mentality, blaming others (or yourself) for whatever happened.

Your ego might also conjure up images of a catastrophic future. It might use fear to keep you small in the present moment. These negative visions of the future — such as losing your job, getting sick, or ending up broke and alone – prevent you from stepping beyond your comfort zone to try something new in the present, for fear that you will make poor choices or make a mistake.

Your intuition is much more attuned to the present moment. It speaks about where you currently are and how you can move forward from this point in time. Your intuition doesn’t care about the past and will never use past events to keep you from taking action in the present.

Your ego might say to you, “Remember what happened when you tried to speak up last time? Better not do it again!” In contrast, your intuition is much more likely to say, “Whatever happened in the past is in the past. How can you find a way to speak up today and really be heard? You deserve that.”


DIFFERENCE #4: Confusion versus clarity

Overall, the biggest difference between the voice of your ego and the voice of your intuition is confusion versus clarity. Another one of your ego’s goals is to keep you distracted and focused on petty things that don’t really matter. This prevents you from opening yourself up to greater visibility in your life and to the possibility of rejection.

One of the ego’s most effective tools to keep you distracted is confusion. If you’re trying to make a decision about something, but there are multiple voices in your head telling you contradictory things, it’s very possible that ALL of those voices are coming from your ego. Or it might be that your ego is trying to get in the way of your intuitive voice, so that you can’t hear it.

If you feel confused, mentally overwhelmed, burned out, and totally unclear about how to move forward or how to make a choice – then your ego is getting in the way.

Instead, if you feel a sense of clarity, ease, and confidence, then you can be sure that you’re listening to the voice of your intuition. It’s not that your intuition will always give you pleasant information that’s easy to hear. This not always the case. Sometimes your intuition helps you see a red flag or makes you feel uneasy about something, which is your inner cue that whatever that thing is, it’s not properly aligned with you. Sometimes your intuition lets you know that a specific job or relationship isn’t right for you.

These aren’t comfortable truths to hear, but they must be acknowledged. The point is that your intuition will communicate information to you in a clear and easy way. The message will just come through and you will KNOW it in your gut and in your heart. There won’t be any thinking or overanalyzing, even if the truth you receive isn’t exactly something you wanted to hear.

What are the differences you’ve noticed in your own life between your ego voice and your intuitive voice? How do you distinguish between the two? Please leave a message in the comments. I’d love to hear from you about this!

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6 thoughts on “Ego or Intuition? How To Tell The Difference”

  1. This is an excellent article that has given me an “aha” moment. The clarity provided is giving me new found wisdom I am going to try to use daily. I realized how many times I have listened to my ego thinking it was my intuition. Thank you Josephine!

    1. Josephine Hardman

      Hi Vickie! I’m so glad the article was helpful. We all fall into the trap of listening to that insidious ego voice. It’s a daily practice to move beyond it and listen to our intuition instead!

  2. Pingback: How Your Beliefs Create Your Reality | Rose Colored Life

  3. This is interesting, but how does it apply to the id’s “‘want candy!” drive? I mean, wanting to go out of your way to a place you’ve never been to buy something you really can’t afford ticks the boxes for “expansion”(This is something new!), “playing big” (So what if it costs a lot?), and “focus on the future” (This’ll be great!), and still be a really bad decision. All you’ve got left is whether the clamor about a pending course of action is your ego trying to distract you from the action, or your ego trying to distract you from your intuition’s warning about the action.

    1. Josephine Hardman

      Hi Wendy! Thank you for reading this and for your thought-provoking comment. In my view, an id- or ego-based impulse towards self-destruction (for example, as you say, a destructive impulse to buy something we can’t afford just for the sake of newness) is not an aligned, healthy desire coming from our Higher Self or Soul. True expansion is an experience of following our Soul’s calling, which always moves us towards greater peace, well-being, and abundance. An ego-based “expansion”, as you mention, is a false kind of expansion where we are seduced by our ego’s agenda. In other words, I don’t believe our intuition – if we are really listening to it without getting distracted or confused by the ego – would ever lead us towards a place of harm.

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