I had the great pleasure this weekend of leading a workshop that was designed to have participants begin to listen to their inner voice. It was an incredible experience to share in that learning with them. I was blown away by their honesty and their desire to make massive shifts in their lives. So how does one make a massive change and know that it is right for them?
There is one thing that has never led me astray in my life and that is my inner voice. I asked the participants how in tune they felt to the voice within daily, on a scale from 1-10 (1-I hear nothing and 10-it screams at me). The answers were as varied as the participants, but one thing came up repeatedly: even if it is the loudest voice, how do I trust it?
Wow! How do you teach someone to trust their own voice? What stands in the way of someone truly knowing within themselves what is right for them? How do you turn up the volume on that inner voice so that you can make decisions that are in alignment for you?
A little piece of history
I will get to the steps in a moment but lets first talk about why I am qualified to talk about trusting your inner voice. I was born into chaos and my parents’ unhappy marriage. As the last of six kids, I learned early on that I could take care of myself. My connection to my inner voice was strengthened by the environment that I lived in. I could see my parents for who they were and how they struggled and I KNEW I could choose differently. I remember knowing very early on that even though I lived in less-than-ideal circumstances, that they didn’t have to last forever and that when I was an adult I could decide for myself what I wanted my life to look like.
There is nothing complicated about this. My inner voice, gut, intuition, inner compass was very strong in my early years. Interestingly enough, while this voice inside was loud when I was a child, I lost some of that connection in my later twenties. I started to get in line with someone else’s concept of what a good life looked like. I followed the checklist and did everything right and while it led me to a good life, it didn’t make me truly happy. Why? Because it was not in alignment for me.
Why Having a Strong Connection to Your Inner Voice is VITAL to your Happiness
As I lost that connection to my inner voice, I started making decisions based upon other people’s opinions and I started down a path in my personal life and career that were out of alignment for me. Thankfully, my voice started yelling at me and because it had been there for me in the darkest times of my life I listened.
What is the biggest risk that we face when we don’t listen to our inner voice? We waste our time. Our time is our most precious non-renewable resource and it is something that we cannot make more of. Do you want to spend it living someone else’s life?
We can become imprisoned by other people’s plans for our lives. When we trust and listen to our inner voice we can free ourselves from having to do things out of obligation or guilt. Making decisions that are in alignment for you is the epitome of freedom because you know deeply that regardless of what you are told to do, you listened to your inner voice and trusted it.
How to trust it?
Trust. That is a massive topic. Do you trust the inner voice that speaks to you?
- Whose voice is this? – oftentimes when we are faced with a decision we can have someone else’s voice (or the voices of several other people) chime in with input. Checking in with your own thoughts, opinions and idea on a decision or a subject can help you to listen and trust your inner voice.
- How does this feel for me? – this is a wonderful check-in to do if you are faced with a decision to make or a direction to take. Look at both sides of the decision and visualize how it would feel to take one road or the other while asking yourself the question above. Oftentimes, we make decisions and place other people before us. I am not saying that we should never consider other people, but the tendency is to ALWAYS think of others and NEVER listen to our own voice. I would encourage you to try to turn up volume on your inner voice enough that both perspectives can be equally weighed.
- Become aware of the ‘shoulds’ – anytime I hear the word should, I get highly suspicious. This word implies obligation or judgement. If you hear yourself saying it, take note and become aware of what is the thing you think you should be doing and what is your inner voice saying in relation to that. Use the word should as an opportunity to listen to your inner voice and decide for yourself.
- Take a stand – speaking of deciding for yourself and the word should, have you ever found yourself saying, I really should be a (insert whatever thing here)? What are your thoughts on the thing? Begin to take a stand on things even if only in your moments of personal reflection. If you like to write, bust out that journal and write. Start your sentence with: I believe and then write what your thoughts are on the subject. Processing how you feel will begin to strengthen your trust in your inner voice.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! I love to play around with my inner compass. I also refer to this as my gut. How do you practice strengthening your connection to your inner voice? Test it out at the grocery store! If you have ever been doing your weekly shop and wondered if you needed to buy a particular product because you were out, but you forgot to check, tune into your intuition. I will stand in the middle of the aisle when this happens, and will stand next to whatever it is that I am questioning and ask myself: “noodles, do I need noodles, noodles, noodles, noodles?” Each time, I get an answer, I trust that thing in my gut that told me I really did need noodles. This may seem silly, but the thing that is telling me I need noodles is the same thing that will speak to me when I need to make a much larger decision.
Freedom and Trust
There is great freedom when you learn to listen to and trust your inner voice. It will oftentimes mean that you have to make a decision that is against the grain or not on someone else’s plan, but it is vital that you learn to make the decisions that are in alignment for you.
When we strengthen our connection to our inner compass and make decisions that are in alignment for us as individuals and in partnerships, we create space for others to do the same. In that space, there is freedom and healing. You are the creator of your own life. We are only here for the briefest moment in the grand spectrum of time and I invite you to tune into your inner voice so that you can make the most of the precious time you are given.
Tell me: do you trust your inner voice?