Who’s Talking? (Part One)

We are all born with a powerful, fully-functioning internal guidance system that points us to live an authentic life based on love, doing what is for our highest good. This system has many names, such as “intuition,” “inner wisdom,” and “higher self.” Meanwhile, each of us also has a fear-based part called ego, whose sole mission is to keep us safe. It wants us to hide behind a façade and control what’s outside of ourselves, so that we won’t have to face our human fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities. We want to recognize directives issued by our ego, and follow guidance from our inner wisdom instead.

Just how can we tell what is guidance from our inner wisdom vs. directives from ego? After all, both voices come from within. Good question. Let’s talk about some defining characteristics of true guidance to follow. This article is the first of a two-part series on discerning intuitive guidance from ego directives.

You vs. I

The highest and wisest part of us channels cosmic wisdom for our expansion and growth. It is not identified with itself, and therefore addresses us in the second person. By contrast, in its vested interests in keeping us safe, the part of us that is our ego is self-identified. Therefore, its directives tend to come in the first person. If you get inner guidance to leave your job, because something better is waiting for you around the corner, the message to you may be: Leave your job now. If instead you get a message like, I gotta leave this job because it’s killing me, this most likely comes from your ego. Pain is the motivation for action, and your ego wants you to do something to stop the pain. So, pay attention to how you are addressed in the messages you receive.

Motivated by Love vs. Fear

Ego-based directives are typically motivated by fear to control a situation or others’ behavior that threatens our feelings of safety. When we feel that people have to act a certain way, or an event has to happen in a very specific manner or timeframe, these are telltale signs of our ego’s signature advice. Similarly, when we find ourselves seeking external validation and acceptance, our ego is likely in the driver seat as well. We worry about how others may react to our actions or inaction – they may not like me; they may think that I’m not a team-player, etc. When we feel the need to do something for someone in order to ingratiate them or to fish for compliments, there is a good chance our ego is pulling the strings.

By contrast, guidance from our inner wisdom is motivated by love. The highest and wisest part of ourselves always seeks growth and expansion, and it knows that love is the ultimate source energy that powers everything and everyone. Therefore, even if the guidance we get from our inner wisdom often stretches our comfort, it is always motivated by love. When we feel an inner call to grow, to invoke the power within to compose any life we wish to create, this expansive nudge is from our inner wisdom. Unlike ego-based directives, such inner guidance does not lead us to seek external validation. Everything we need to make our dreams a reality comes from within ourselves. We do not need others’ approval, just our own permission.

To give you an example, when I meditated on New Year’s Eve to prepare for 2012, the guidance I got included this: Love yourself. That’s the primary theme for this year. Whatever you do, start with loving yourself first. Nothing will flow without self-love. Your work in this world demands that. This guidance addressed me in the second person, and the reminder of self-love spoke to inner focus, not what to do about the external circumstances of my life.

Putting into Practice

Think of a recent time when you felt an inner nudge to do something, whether it is big or small.

  • How did it address you – “You” or “I”?
  • Did it nudge you to have the courage or to allow yourself to do something? Or did it nudge you to seek validation from someone else or to take pre-emptive action?

I will share two more defining characteristics of guidance from inner wisdom in Part Two of “Who’s Talking?” next Thursday.


This article is based on the Act Chapter of my book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life.

You may subscribe to my articles via RSS Feed or by email in the “Subscribe & Connect” box below.

About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to blog articles by email, and connect with Alice across the web.

, , ,


Yes, Yes, yes! Such a great description for hearing the voice of ego and our own intuitive knowing. Love this Alice. Love you, Carl

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thanks, Carl! I'm sure you get this question, too, "How can I tell when it's ego vs. intuition talking?" That's why I was guided to write about this in my book. Love you, too, my friend, Alice


  1. […] more on discerning between ego and intuitive wisdom, see “Who’s Talking?” Parts One and […]

%d bloggers like this: