Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

Urges vs Nudges

Published 5 months ago • 2 min read

What does it really mean to ‘trust your intuition’, and is it actually a good idea?

Opinions abound: Following your intuition. But don’t jump to conclusions without thinking things through. But don’t obscure your inner knowing by going into your head. Don’t live on autopilot, but also don’t live in your head. Entire books have been written about why going with your gut is a good idea, and entire books have been written about why going with your gut is a bad idea.

What’s missing is a distinction, because there are actually two kinds of ‘intuition’ you might be encountering in the moment:

Is it an URGE, or is it a NUDGE?

Urges are habitual and reactive. A craving, or an alarm bell telling you to go into fight or flight. They arise from your memory and conceptual mind. They’re familiar, because they’re something you’ve already been thinking a lot, come back for more. They’re loud and insistent. Something is wrong, and the world won’t be right again unless you act on the urge. Urges feel personal, urgent, and important.

Nudges are spontaneous and wise. A ‘just knowing’, or allowing your choices and attention to be guided by something else. When they’re familiar we refer to nudges as ‘common sense’. When they’re unfamiliar it feels more like spiritual guidance. They arise from the natural, receptive orientation of the mind, often with rhyme but no reason. We often evade and ignore them because we have scary stories about where they come from (our underlying nature). Nudges feel right, simple, and gentle.

Urges and Nudges are often confused because they are both of the moment and most teachings are only aware of one of them. Analytical-biased teachings often only see Urges – letting bad habits run your life by not properly thinking everything through. Spiritual-biased teachings often only acknowledge Nudges – following your inner knowing by going with whatever occurs to you in the moment. One bias leads to a complete denial of wisdom and rigid, anxious overthinking. The other bias leads to ungrounded, chaotic meandering and dramatic mood swings.

Urges lead you into temptation. Nudges lead you to liberation.

Urges feel serious. Nudges feel sincere.

Urges sound like demands. Nudges sound like invitations.

Urges are reactive. Nudges are creative.

Urges are familiar. Nudges are fresh.

Urges sound rational. Nudges don’t need explanation.

Urges are telling you that something’s wrong. Nudges are offering you something even better.

Urges are what you usually think. Nudges are what you need to know right now.

Urges are about the past or the future. Nudges are now.

The more you get a feel for Urges and Nudges, it becomes easier to dismiss Urges and to follow Nudges. You might have more access to dismissing Urges, slowing and quieting everything down so that you can start to notice the Nudges. Or you might have more access to following Nudges while still also giving into Urges, and you’ll get to experience which ones are more trustworthy.

It is the Nudges, from everything I've seen so far in my life, are the real key to a thriving, magical, resilient, guided life. But don’t just take my word for it – I encourage you to attune to your inner knowing and find out for yourself!

Michael McDonald
Transformational Coach

P.S. Join me this Saturday for my next Insight Salon on Ending Habits Effortlessly

Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

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