A practical illustration through dialogue


During facilitating one of my ACE Resilience workshop sessions, on the concept of Emotional Intelligence, I was presented with an insightful question from one of the delegates, seeking a practical illustration of what is meant by: Emotions as a source of information . This prompted a dialogue. Essentially, anyone can google search “what” a concept is, for example, what is EQ? However, “how do you understand and live the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ component of EQ?”.

I am so grateful for her questions! With this, I decided to document our dialogue, and with her permission, I share them with you. This is by no means an academic answer or THE answer. This is simply a personal share of our exchange and, hopefully, one that may be a catalyst for your own intra or inter conversations – to shed awareness and personal meaning on the intersections between signals from feelings. Note; the terms “protection fear, rooted in instinct/gut” and “excuse fear, rooted in anxiety” were created by us at the time of dialogue.

How do you know when fear is your gut/instinct signalling protection vs you wanting to avoid something and need an excuse?

Below is our transcribed dialogue of the practical concepts that emanated from the workshop:

CHRIZELDA: “Start by affording yourself the time to identify what is driving the fear. What is the purpose of the fear? Do you want to “use” the fear to avoid something or is the fear protecting you i.e., “this is not good for me” or “this can cause harm”. If you don’t know, or if you are not sure, you go there. Meaning, you allow yourself to have the lived experience. Note – have the lived experience with curiosity, openness and caution. The key is to reflect afterwards. Reflecting on the experience allows you to increase your awareness, as in future, it will be easier for you to be able to recognise and know when it is your gut / instinct, to protect you, or when it is a mask of false fear, “an excuse” not to do something or be someone”.


DELEGATE: “The above helps, however, I have another question…”


DELEGATE: “So when it’s more a fear for protection, then is it any likelier to be intuition, or can it still be rooted in anxiety? Oh, and one more question: I take it that we build our intuition through lived experience? ‎As in, if we haven’t experienced something yet, it’s probably an excuse rather than it is your gut telling you that something is wrong?”


CHRIZELDA: “The sensation might always feel like anxiety, however, it is your intuition that is protecting you. In short, it is likelier to be intuition. Gut and intuition are always present, from birth, however, we build trust (i.e., getting to recognise, understand and gain knowledge) through our lived experiences and upon reflection.”


DELEGATE: “Oh, okay this makes sense.”


CHRIZELDA: “Note, reflection assists one in realising and learning that our gut is always spot on. Remember – when not sure, approach the lived experience with caution. For example, when you sense and feel the anxiety – ask yourself, “am I avoiding something, or do I need to protect myself?”. Maybe you shouldn’t avoid something and do it or maybe it is not yours to do, and you are being used [hypothetically]. Then you need to protect yourself and it was your gut that alerted you. This usually occurs with friendships and places etc.” “Is it a little bit clearer now?”


DELEGATE: “This has really cleared it up for me. Thank you so much. Now that I look at the situations I’m referring to (which had me in a really tough mental space for a while), I’m realising that after following the thought process you gave me, it was more of my “excuse” fear talking, rather than my “protect yourself” fear. But I didn’t know how to differentiate them at the time.”


CHRIZELDA: “Going forward, when you are in the space where you need to differentiate. Take a piece of paper and write your thoughts down. Identify small doable action steps, so that you can overcome the excuse fear. Whilst doing this, you are building a new neural pathway, and you will start feeling better and stronger. This is when you activate the logical part of your brain, when you start to reason, mind manage and gather data, to identify – is this the ‘excuse fear’ or the ‘protection fear’.”


DELEGATE: “Yes, yes! I see the difference. I think the example is helping me channel the feelings I had, when something like this happened vs my “excuses”. Thank you for taking the time to help me navigate the unknown. Thank you so much.”


  1. Ask questions, sit with the questions – allow yourself to have lived experiences.
  2. Process, reason, reflect – give it meaning by owning what is yours.
  3. Think, feel, see, hear – activate all the senses.
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