How to Harness Intuitive Decision Making for Life Changing Results

Unlocking the power of intuition and recognising urges, fear and ego.

Dr. Louise Rix
The Mental Game
6 min readJun 27, 2023

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Digital art by Dall-e 2, OpenAI

If you have any thoughts, want some help making a decision or would like to share your own intuitive process I’d love to hear from you! You can find my contact details here. I also work with a number of companies as an advisor.

Intuitive Decision Making

Intuition is an incredibly powerful tool, although it’s not always the easiest to tap into. Other thoughts and emotions can make it hard to recognise, especially urges (compulsions to do something that usually results from an unmet need), fear and desires based on ego (more on these below). Understanding the subtle differences can often make the difference between a blunder and a step forward which can be crucial for entrepreneurs. This is especially relevant when moving fast, probably overworking and perhaps not taking enough time to pause and listen.

Introducing Intuition

For the left-brained thinkers out there, intuition, from a scientific perspective, can be understood as the brain’s ability to draw on internal and external cues, past experiences and inherent knowledge to make decisions or form conclusions without conscious reasoning.

Although it might sound like a woo concept, it’s widely accepted among neuroscientists and psychologists that our brain is constantly absorbing and processing information, even when we’re not consciously aware of it. This includes sensory input, memories, emotions and learned patterns of recognition. When we have an intuitive thought or feeling, it’s often because our brain has rapidly processed these subtle cues and has come up with a response or judgement.

So our intuitive abilities are the result of complex cognitive processes that allow us to make quick, and often remarkably accurate, judgments and decisions. However, in our society, we put a lot of emphasis on analytical decision-making, such as using frameworks like pros and cons or SWOT analysis, and deprioritise intuition. While careful analysis is essential, not factoring in intuition can result in missed possibilities, limited self-awareness, neglecting holistic perspectives, ignoring risk assessment and stifling creativity and innovation.

Integrating intuition into the decision-making process enables a more comprehensive and enriching approach, leading to broader opportunities, deeper understanding and more meaningful outcomes.

Even with the awareness of the power of intuition, recognising it isn’t always easy. In this post, I’m going to cover the difference between intuition and its unhelpful neighbours, urges, fear and ego. However, our intuition is unique so I invite you to reflect and write down your intuitive process.

Intuition, urges, fear and ego

Understanding Intuition

Intuition is often experienced as a gentle nudge or inner voice. It may feel like a deep sense of knowing. It often arises unexpectedly and feels light, yet its impact can be profound, sparking new ideas and prompting important decisions.

Unlike the conscious mind, which tends to provide a multitude of reasons, intuition doesn’t typically explain itself and doesn’t usually offer a detailed plan (the ‘how’), but it emphasises the action (the ‘what’). What it is telling you to do may also not make sense.

Intuition also tends to be absent of strong emotions and desires. When you experience it you don’t feel compelled to follow it, unlike urges or egoic desires. Intuition often speaks first, although it can be quickly followed by fear.

If you don’t listen to your intuition, it may persist, resurfacing until acknowledged or acted upon. It tends to be action-oriented, prompting you to take steps forward.

Intuition checklist

If the answer to these questions is yes, it may be your intuition:

  • Does it feel calm, light or fun?
  • Does it feel like a ‘little knowing’ or a sense-based intuition, like smell?
  • Is it action-orientated?
  • Is it absent of strong emotions?
  • Do you feel like you aren’t ‘compelled’ to follow it?
  • Did it seem to come out of nowhere when it first came to you?
  • Did it also not make much sense?
  • Is it nudging you to what you should do but not focusing on the how or spinning off into wishful thinking about how it might turn out?
  • Did it just speak once and then not return or is it saying the same message over and over?

Recognising Urges

Unlike intuition, urges can carry a sense of desperation, or be accompanied by desire or excitement. They can paint a tantalising picture of potential outcomes, promising fulfilment or rectification. Urges focus on the ‘how’ — the method, the plan, the approach. You may also find yourself focusing on what you hope to gain from following them — for instance some form of gratification.

However, it’s essential to be wary of urges that may lead us astray, driven by short-term desires or imagined scenarios that distract from long-term goals. Often urges are for a corrective experience — for instance trying to prove yourself to someone because they hurt you in the past.

To understand an urge, remember the last time you felt compelled to drink or eat or smoke or [insert vice] as a way to avoid a negative feeling or situation. An urge may also feel good before but then feel bad afterwards.

Urges checklist

If the answer to these questions is yes, it may be an urge:

  • Would you describe the voice or what you feel like you want as a desire?
  • Does it feel like a kind of high when you think about the outcome?
  • Does it feel like you’re trying to have a corrective experience?
  • Does it mirror any of your core wounds or patterns?
  • Are you thinking through scenarios of how it will work out?
  • Is there any wishful thinking present?
  • Do you feel compelled to follow it?

Fear: The Deceptive Guide

Fear, on the other hand, often camouflages itself, blurring the lines between caution and restraint. Fear is rooted in the past or the future, preoccupied with what has been or what might be. Unlike intuition which tends to be more action-orientated, fear leans towards maintaining the status quo.

Fear tends to spiral, expanding a single decision into a web of potential consequences, and amplifying uncertainty and doubt.

A unique quality of fear is that it diminishes once confronted. Walking through fear often leads to its dissipation, revealing its often exaggerated influence.

Fear checklist

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be dealing with fear:

  • Does it focus on the past or the future?
  • Is it status quo orientated i.e don’t change how things are?
  • Is it playing into any core wounds or blocks?
  • Does it feel unsafe or ungrounded in your body?
  • Does it feel like it’s coming from a place of lack or scarcity?
  • Is there any worst-case scenario thinking happening? Or ‘what if’ thinking?
  • Is there an over-focus on barriers?

Examining Ego

The ego often operates in alignment with societal standards, placing importance on wealth, status, or power as driving factors in decision-making. It may steer decisions based on fear, insecurity, or a scarcity mindset, prioritising self-preservation over true growth and fulfilment.

The ego seeks external validation and may be swayed by the anticipation of recognition or approval from others.

Ego checklist

If the answer to these questions is yes, ego may be playing a role:

  • Does it align with societal standards, such as wealth, status or power?(How much are these driving your decision? Are any authentic to you?)
  • Do you feel you are deciding for fear, insecurity or scarcity? (Or do you feel you are deciding on love, growth, fulfilment)
  • Are you anticipating external validation? Is this swaying your decision-making?
  • Would you still want to do it if no one ever knew you’d done it?

Comparative overview

Because of the subtle differences in these concepts, I think it’s helpful to see them in comparison to one another.

In conclusion, incorporating intuition into decision-making is essential for a more comprehensive and enriching approach.

Intuition, characterised by a gentle nudge and a sense of knowing, offers profound insights and prompts important decisions. By recognising the calmness, action-oriented nature, and absence of strong emotions in intuition, we can differentiate it from urges, which often carry desperation and focus on immediate gratification. Fear, rooted in the past or future, tends to spiral and magnify uncertainties, while ego-driven decisions may prioritise societal standards and external validation over personal fulfilment.

I hope by being aware of these factors and utilising the checklists above, you can better navigate intuitive decision-making. Watch out for part two where we’ll cover things that get in the way of intuition and how to overcome them.

If you have any thoughts, want some help making a decision or would like to share your own intuitive process I’d love to hear from you! You can find my contact details here.

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Dr. Louise Rix
The Mental Game

Female Health, Product, ex-Chief Medical Officer at Béa Fertility, Founder, VC. 🧠 Writing about health tech, female health and The Mental Game 💡 louiserix.com