Fear? Or Intuition?

May 7th, 2015

PTSD treatment“Trust your intuition.” We’ve all been told this. It’s nice to be able to trust yourself and your internal compass. However, a yoga teacher recently reminded me that trusting your intuition isn’t always that straightforward.

Recently, I was in a yoga class and we were in a somewhat demanding pose.  The teacher, an calm and intuitive woman, suggested that we explore taking the pose a little deeper.  Before doing so, she suggested that we pay attention to our intuition.  But then she added a nuance, asking “How do you know if your decision to not depeen your pose is your intuition or your fear talking?” She explained that the difference is important. Intuition would tell us that going deeper is a bad idea – we could be injured if we try to deepen the pose.  If it’s just fear that’s talking, then going deeper into the pose is not only possible, but maybe even beneficial.

That question really stuck with me. Intuition and fear can easily get confused, especially for people who’ve experienced trauma, whether it be physical or emotional violence. For example, for the man who was sexually abused, getting ready to have sex with his partner (one whom the survivor loves and trusts)  can induce feelings of stress and tension and thoughts of distrust. Is this his intuition? Is his intuition saying that he should not trust or have sex with his partner? Or is it fear installed by the trauma? A fear that makes every sexual situation seem dangerous?

In this example, knowing the difference is immensely important. If the difference isn’t apparent, feelings can get hurt and the man and his partner can get stuck in very unhealthy patterns.  But it’s not just knowing the difference that matters.  Once he knows the difference, he can then decide what to do? He learn to deal with fear when it’s not necessary. He can learn to once again trust himself and his intuition.

There’s many ways one can learn the difference between fear and intuition; primarily by being curious.  And once we know the difference, we can then make choices on what we will do.  For the man who’s been traumatized, he can choose to share this information with his partner so feelings don’t get hurt. He can then decide to see a therapist who can help him calm his fear down so he can actually hear his intuition. PTSD treatment – therapy developed to specifically work with symptoms of trauma – can help with this.

And once we’ve learned how to listen and trust ourselves, our fear no longer keeps us from missing opportunities.  Opportunities to deepen our yoga poses. Opportunities to connect intimately with our partners. And opportunities to truly know ourselves.

If you’re looking for a therapist with training in PTSD treatment, contact Mike Giordano, LICSW at 202-460-6384 or Mike.Giordano.MSW@gmail.com.


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