Is Your Gut Feeling Real or Is That Just Fear?

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Is Your Gut Feeling Real or Is That Just Fear
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Your gut is valuable to your life: both as a literal part of your body and as a figurative force that guides you.

How many times in your life have you almost attempted something, or met someone, only to have a feeling that something isn’t quite right? That something feels a little off and you need to reconsider?

Or perhaps you went against that feeling and everything went perfectly—or horribly—and you were left wondering about the alternative outcome of your decision.

Evolution has brought us quite far in terms of this gut feeling—from helping humans survive by sensing danger to being the basis of major entrepreneurial risks and decisions.

Gut Feeling, Intuition, Fear—What’s the Difference?

The terms intuition and gut feeling are often used interchangeably, though some would argue that even they are different. However, for the sake of simplicity, when defining them, the easiest explanation is knowing something on the basis of instinct or feeling without needing concrete, tangible facts and information.

Fear, on the other hand, stems from anxiety. You don’t need to have clinical anxiety or an anxiety disorder to experience it. It comes and goes at different times of your life, such as work-related situations, near exams or when starting something new. Millions of people around the world experience this, so you’re not alone.

Gut Feeling, Intuition, Fear

The question still remains though: how can you tell the difference?

Their timing makes a difference—intuition is selective, fear is persistent

This is perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two. Are you in a particular situation that’s causing you to feel concern, worry or tension and question your next step? Is there any potential threat in the now?

Fear and anxiety are more consistent; they disrupt your day-to-day life, are marked by worry for the future and a fixation on the past and more.

Set them apart by when they seem to emerge and you’ll be able to tell them apart with more ease. For instance, if you’re about to start a new project or introduce a new policy, but you can’t shake the nagging feeling that’s telling you something is wrong, you might want to trust your instinct.

However, fearing and second-guessing every decision you make or questioning your capabilities and abilities, that’s fear and anxiety talking to you.

Comfort vs. relief

Intuition will show you what comfort looks like; whereas, fear pushes you toward relief. Is a situation going to cause you discomfort or harm? Intuition will sense that. An investment that will end in losses is a form of harm that can come your way.

Comfort vs. relief

However, relief from hard work or uncertainty are what anxiety will direct you toward. When you find yourself escaping from challenges instead of real threats, you know it’s the fear talking. Challenges are a normal part of a person’s professional growth—you can’t escape them, whether it’s an entry-level internship or an executive-level job. You’re seeking shelter and an escape from putting in the work and trying to stay in your comfort zone—and that’s where you need to draw the line and take decisive action.

Heightened emotions vs. emotional neutrality

Again, intuition comes from a place of neutrality and level-headedness, and it’s a rational feeling. Fear will cripple you, fill you with self-doubt and cloud your judgment. It will also leave you feeling lost and confused.

If you feel charged and unable to think clearly and rationally or provide reasoning for why you feel a certain way, that might be fear talking. However, if after making a difficult decision like quitting your job or taking action like bringing a new team member on board you’re at ease and feel calm, you can trust your gut.


Both of these feelings are your body and mind’s response to danger, threats and risks involved in decisions and actions you’re about to take. However, telling the difference between them can be what it takes for you to do something. Is it fear that’s preventing you from taking a chance, or is your gut telling you to be more careful?

Learn how to make decisions and motivate yourself by following Steve Gilliland’s advice. He is a Hall of Fame Speaker known for his comedic style and powerful messages about life and success. To hire him as a motivational speaker for your next event, contact his agent here.