A question I hear a lot from clients is how do I know what to do?
How do I know what action to take? Where to live? How to follow my passion?
Whether you’re just about to graduate from college, a millennial rethinking your career path or in your 50s looking at being an empty nester, the answer is the same.
We have to turn within and listen to our inner guidance.
This can be hard because it often seems like there are multiple people speaking to us all day long. It isn’t just one clear voice guiding us.
If we stop and really listen to the voices in our heads, we can begin to identify them.
This is a really useful tool. Because it can help us distinguish which aspect of ourselves we might be listening to or activating.
For example, one of the voices that speaks to me is the voice of fear.
Sometimes she takes the form of caution or apprehension. But at other times she can get pretty agitated and loud especially when I move out of my comfort areas – whether that’s with a relationship, financial decision or physical challenge.
Now, I know that this voice of fear is part of my personality.
It’s the part of me that’s a little girl, afraid of the world.
Another aspect of this voice sometimes sounds like my father who was extremely cautious and risk averse. I hear him especially loudly if I’m contemplating making a financial decision that seems risky or a bit out of my depths.
Personally, I think this voice is good.
It reminds me not to be reckless or impulsive in my decision making. It encourages me to take my time and not rush (which I can tend to do.)
But I also have to temper it.
What I mean is to not simply react but listen to the fear voice with an objective mind, a neutral mind. Listen as if the voice wasn’t talking to me but to someone else.
I want to make sure that it’s viewpoint is valid and not a gut reaction impeding me from embracing change or stretching myself.
Then I listen again.
I put aside the small child shouting at me, and walk past by father’s caution and enter the silence.
The silence is where our inner guidance lives.
This place is in the center of our chest cavity, in the 4th chakra, the heart space.
Imagine that within this space lies a sacred cave in which sits the omniscient power of love.
Sometimes we want to give this place, or feeling an identity. You can imagine the Christ or Lord Buddha sitting there. Perhaps you prefer Mother Mary or Tara. Maybe it’s a voice or a hum.
Whatever image or sound suits you, envision that.
Next, see yourself sitting in this place of knowing, in the cave of infinite intelligence.
Tapping into this place, into this inner knowing, is connecting with our true guide, our faithful compass.
You’ve heard this voice before.
We all have. Sometimes it comes to us in desperate moments. Often it arrives unexpectedly and tells you something important.
The first time I heard it I was just about 20 years old.
For most of my teenaged years I’d seriously abused drugs and alcohol. By 20, I was unable to remember basic information. At times it felt like there were little explosions going on in my brain.
I was scared and knew I needed to stop using but I was afraid of quitting too. I was stuck, frozen in this vicious cycle until one day the voice spoke to me.
It was so clear. I knew instantly it was speaking truth.
I still remember exactly what the voice said. “You have to stop doing drugs. You’re killing yourself.”
I answered. “I know but I’m afraid.”
“You can do this. Just stop for a month and see how you feel.”
But that wasn’t it.
The voice went on to tell me that I’d forgotten who I was, that I had to leave my university and my boyfriend and go away. I had to be alone to come back to me.
I was so angry.
I knew I had to quit my dangerous lifestyle but leave my boyfriend?
Initially, I fought against it but in the end I listened because in my heart of hearts, I knew it was exactly what I needed. Not only was I addicted to drugs and alcohol but I’d become completely co-dependent.
That six-month trip truly changed my life. I got clean, sober and woke back up to myself.
No one helped me. No one needed to. I just had to listen. And then do it.
If you’re ready to really listen to your inner voice, here are a few tools that will help you:
We must have a healthy psyche in order to discern which voice is speaking, and which one we are choosing to listen to. Working with a therapist or coach, can help clear away the samskara, the baggage you’ve taken on in this life.
It’s imperative to do this inner work to really get in touch with yourself.
When we have a practice of meditation it helps us learn how to quiet the mind. Sometimes I think about my brain like a radio, constantly tuning in to a new station yakking away about trivialities. Sitting soundlessly helps us learn how to quiet that noise.
When we get silent, we more easily open ourselves up to hear our inner guru (teacher), that inner truth.
Prayer is asking. If you need guidance, get calm and ask! Pray for what you want in your life- even if that is clarity. Then get quiet and listen. Prayer is the asking and meditation is the listening (for the answer.)
We’re talking about listening to our own inner voice. Yet having a supportive community where you feel connected, heard and held makes the journey so much more enjoyable and attainable. It helps us stay accountable too.
As Marianne Williamson famously said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
We are all afraid of our own greatness.
But our greatness is what's calling to us everyday AND what the world desperately needs.
So what are you waiting for?
What is it that YOU really want to do?
Share your story below!