How to Tell if it’s Fear and You Need to Step Up, or if it’s Intuition and You Need to Step Away


By Christine Obee

I’m in a period of transition.

With transition comes growth. With growth, I often experience feelings of awkwardness, discomfort and even pain. I know from past situations, when I’m in a state of growth, these feelings dissipate and are replaced by feelings of triumph, excitement, expansion, wholeness and all that other good stuff. So with this evidence in place, it’s clear I should declare with great confidence:

Step forth and embrace your feelings of discomfort!

The knots in your stomach, the pounding of your heart, the non-literal red flags that are going off in your head and any other symptoms that indicate you are heading in the wrong direction. This is just fear and you are simply getting out of your comfort zone. Feel these feelings and move forward anyways; you will reap great rewards!

Sounds good, right? Sounds wonderful, in fact. Everyone is going to be falling into these feelings and moving through them to reach new incredible levels of expansion and truth. I can’t wait!

Except (you knew it was coming) somehow, it’s not that simple.


What about this idea of downstream/upstream? I love this concept and it makes so much sense to me and hopefully, it makes sense to you too. If you’re heading upstream, things feel hard; you’re struggling, there is constant resistance and it’s practically impossible to find that feeling of bliss you’ve experienced after a particularly great yoga or workout session.

So what happens if you’re headed upstream and you don’t know it? If you think it’s just fear, then should you follow the advice I so confidently declared just moments ago?  Well, in my experience, things get worse. Harder. You may feel even MORE heavy, contracted, unmotivated and doubtful. I’ve fought upstream for so long at times, my body will even start to get involved (headaches, sore throat, upset stomach, etc).

On second thought, step forth and embrace your feelings of discomfort IF…

You’re headed downstream. In this lovely place, things are easy, you’re confident in your direction and your day to day actions and things you desire are literally coming to your doorstep. I’m not saying you won’t experience feelings of fear when you’re headed downstream – you absolutely can and likely will. However, there will be an overall sense of calm and confidence that you’re cruising in the right direction. So here lies the question:

How do I know when I’m being held back by fear and need to step up versus when I’m headed upstream and need to step away?

I believe ultimately the answer can be found in one word – RELIEF.

Whatever brings you a sense of relief is the direction to go in. Here are two things I’m currently trying on for size in regards to solving this epic mystery:

1. Breathe Into It – Rocket science, I know, I’m friggin’ brilliant! Now hold your applause, let me tell you the rest. In Gay Hendricks’ “The Big Leap,” he talks about the similarities between fear and excitement. He explains that when we feel fear, we tend to stop breathing. This just perpetuates the feeling. However, if we breathe into the fear, the feeling can shift to excitement and if you keep breathing, there can be a shift to exhilaration. How exhilarating!

2. How To Test This Out – When feelings of fear come up, breath into it. If they transition to excitement, you’re on the right track… You just needed to step up. If the feelings do not dissipate, maybe they get worse, you’re headed upstream… Let go of the oars and start flowing downstream again.

3. Trial and Error – Also rocket science (okay, so not original, but totally true and worth mentioning). Identify some small, baby steps that could be taken towards a goal that brings up fear. You know, that workout schedule you’ve been avoiding, the juice cleanse you’re convinced you won’t be able to finish, the research on internal gut health you don’t even know where to start with. Dedicate an hour or even 20 minutes and DO something that takes you in that direction.

How does it feel? Exciting, triumphant, relieving?  You’re on the right track, my friend. Contraction, heaviness, struggle? Change direction and start the downstream flow.

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Christine Obee
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Christine Obee

Lifestyle Design Coach and Yoga Teacher at Christine Obee
Christine is certified as a Lifestyle Design Coach and Yoga Teacher. Having made the transition from a draining, ‘just paying the bill’s’ job to doing work she loves, Christine now helps others in their own transitions. Through personalized coaching programs that combine practical methods with energetic and spiritual concepts, she moves professionals from a place of being disengaged and unfulfilled to finding clarify, hope and purpose.
Christine Obee
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