When Knowing Hurts

January 24, 2023

inner knowing

In my line of work, those of us who call ourselves guides, coaches, and mentors help to (re)connect women to their intuition, which is frequently referred to as an “inner knowing.” There’s a lot of talk about the knowing — it’s something to be tended, honored, celebrated. But there’s not as much talk about when the knowing feels more like an initiation than a celebration.

There might be an assumption that connecting to your “inner knowing” feels confirming and validating, exciting even. It can, for sure. But having “the knowing” itself isn’t necessarily a clarifying experience that reveals the path ahead in a matter-of-fact way, making it easy to choose what to do next.

You see, there are many (nuanced) layers when it comes to intuition. How could there not be? We humans are multi-dimensional beings living in a world where conditioning (generational, societal, patriarchal) weakens our connection to others, to the earth, to source, to ourselves, and to our souls. The extent to which our environment + circumstances succeed at conditioning us not to trust ourselves varies for everyone — but it is sneaky, it is insidious, and you can bet it affects us all at some point, in some way.

In my particular journey, and in my specific walk with my clients, I’m diving beneath another layer of “the knowing” right now: the fear. How scary is it to know? The shiny, happy label we slap on intuition in this sometimes popularized field of healing tells us that connecting to your inner knowing is empowering, it helps you step into your next level, it gives you confidence. But what about when you intuitively know (what you are here for, what you must do) and “empowered” and “confident” are the farthest from what you feel? What about when you know, and you’re terrified? Maybe you can barely put one foot in front of the other, because the knowing is paralyzing. Maybe the knowing illuminates a web of smaller knowings that overwhelm you, keeping you complacent with the status quo.

When we’ve been conditioned to doubt our intuition + instead trust our rational, logical minds, we often ignore our inner knowing, talk ourselves out of it, make excuses for why it can’t be so, or straight up gaslight ourselves. “I can’t do that. Who am I to think I could? What would that do to everyone around me?” The knowing is rarely simple. It’s almost never black-or-white. The sense of delayed power + authority that come from exercising your knowing typically have a growth edge or a dark side associated to them that may sound a lot like this:

“I feel like I am powerful, and I am meant to do this thing. But claiming my power + stepping into my truth will erode the foundation I thought my life was built on. My success is threatening to the connections I sacrifice myself to maintain daily. If I choose me, all of this falls apart. I can’t have it all. Maybe I am not powerful. Maybe I am selfish. I don’t want to rock the boat. I’ll just figure it out another way.”

This is the insidious part. How easy it is to just lay down and go back to sleep when this happens. Choosing a belief that isn’t yours, applying stories with endings that aren’t yours like strips of papier mâché over an open wound. But you can’t plaster your knowing shut. You can’t just smooth it over + choose to believe what you want to hear. It’s a fantasy, an illusion. Your mind is a trickster. Replacing your knowing with what we’ve been conditioned to believe are ‘good intentions’ (hello, generations of good-girl conditioning + self-betrayal + martyrdom) will not change the underlying issues. Once you’ve caught a glimpse of what you intuitively know, you can’t unsee, and you can’t not know. And the amount of time you continue to make yourself a living sacrifice on the altar of other people’s expectations and other people’s truths is directly correlated to how much resentment + dissatisfaction you will feel in your life.

I don’t think there is enough talk about how hard it is to know. We dilute ourselves. We bend, twist, contort, and numb ourselves into forgetting, thinking it’s easier to lie to ourselves + keep everything the same than to clothe ourselves in truth + watch everything change. We deny that the effects of living in a perpetual state of disguise are debilitating. We cage ourselves.

But the stars told me (sidebar, that’s the name of my email newsletter — you can subscribe here) that this is the year to stop running from what I (we) know. Even (and especially) if this post is speaking to you, and I hope it is, I can only speak from my place of experience. That is how I walk the walk. I’ve been denying my knowing for a loooooong time. Trying to shove it back down, digest it, assimilate, reshape, manage, medicate, adapt, indoctrinate, comply… but it was killing me, and I could no longer stand by and watch it poison the people I love most and the life I am meant to live. I will not be complicit in my own self-undoing anymore. I know what I am meant for. So when I help other women recognize their knowing, it’s only possible because I’ve been there. I’ve trembled in the face of its unflinching power. I’ve ignored it until it became an unstoppable force-to-be-reckoned-with that wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

So my decision to stop phoning it in + playing small, to stop postponing my discomfort, meant (means) that I have to make the conscious choice (radical shift) from gilded cage (what appears to be, externally, “the good life”) to single motherhood. Yes, this is an intentional decision that may resemble going from riches to rags — who would choose that? But if you peel back the labels + the status symbols + the pages of the magazine, there is a source of untapped wealth that has been suppressed, and that literally cannot be accessed in its current state, in its current environment. You see, the external world doesn’t always match the internal reality. Like doesn’t always attract like when we’re talking about energy. Anyone can appear to have wealth, power, status, and yet be malnourished energetically + spiritually. I will no longer tell myself that I am abundantly supported just because I live in a proverbial castle when my inner world blatantly reflects the opposite. I will no longer allow society and myself to project another person’s circumstances onto me + claim them as my own. There’s an uncomfortable accountability that comes with accessing your truth. So, in a world that places a premium on external validation + keeping up appearances, I am going bare.

Whether it’s riches to rags + then back again is not the point. It might look like that, but there is so much more to be gained through my own voluntary destruction + rebuilding. We forget that we have the right to un-choose whatever we’ve chosen, to destroy whatever we’ve created. That destruction is a potent + powerful (dare I say, vital) part of creation. We spend our lives on tippy-toe trying not to poke the bear, or rock the boat, and that’s not abundance or safety. That’s scarcity + danger. We have to embrace the fruitful void, the fertile silence, and the potency of the journey in order to even be able to fathom a better outcome.

No longer will I silence my voice in favor of “keeping the peace” (I hope you caught the irony — manufactured peace that is predicated on self-betrayal + avoidance is not actually peace).

No longer will I hold my breath trying to match someone else’s cadence. The shallow breathing of playing small is a silent killer.

No longer will I suppress my own truth to keep from rocking the boat, to protect someone else from bearing witness to theirs.

No longer will I perpetuate my own pain.

Over-giving + over-performing are not self preservation. They’re murderous. Strong words, I know, but sometimes our rites of passage + coming-of-age tales are a bit dramatic.

If this sounds like you, if this resonates or strikes a chord, then we’ve got cycles to break, sis.

Let’s release the stories that we’re not powerful enough, strong enough, smart enough —
That we’re not capable all on our own —

And call our potency back to ourselves to see just what we can do.

Let’s not live life diluted.

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