46: the voice in your head and the feeling in your gut

“Let go of your conscious self… Trust your instincts.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

In yesterday’s post about finding your life’s purpose, I briefly mentioned your “inner voice.”

Inner speech is something I think most can relate to – you’re likely constantly talking to yourself, often without really realizing what’s going on.

At it’s most basic, inner speech can be something like jogging your memory, suddenly remembering why you entered an empty room – “ah, that’s why I came in here!”

You also might rehearse social interactions before they happen by simulating conversations.

When I’m headed to a job interview, I imagine myself sitting across from an interviewer, who is asking me questions about myself. I also imagine all of the articulate answers I’m going to reply with.

Those conversations never go exactly as planned, but it’s helpful practice.

If you relate to either example, you can admit with some certainty that you do, in fact, talk to yourself.

Just talking to yourself is not quite what I mean by your “inner voice,” however.

What I’m talking about is your conscience, your instincts or intuition.

The Force.

Spidey-senses.

You get the idea.

A voice that tells you, subconsciously, and seemingly without reason or evidence, to lean towards making a certain decision, or to hesitate before making another.

Have you ever had a good hunch about something? Or, conversely, has a choice made you uncomfortable, but you weren’t quite sure why?

That’s your inner voice talking to you.

Buddhist physician and former University of Chicago director of primary care Alex Lickerman, M.D. describes your inner voice as “your intellect on speed.”

We don’t always listen to our instincts because they seem to chime in to the decision-making process uninvited. An untrained mind can’t see the subtle evidence that causes a hunch, so we naturally mistrust our hunches.

Do our inner voices chime in when they pick up on subliminal truths?

It could be the case that, when presented with a new person or situation to judge, our minds rapidly assimilate impressions.

We do this instinctively and have a split reaction or judgement, so quick that we don’t realize where it came from.

Ideas about our inner voices don’t stop there.

In addition to our split-second instinctive reactions, we also have what 19th-century spiritual leader Ralph Waldo Emerson thought of as a divine voice within us. The voice of God.

“God is in every man,” Emerson famously said.

He rebelled against traditional church teachings, believing that Jesus was no more special than you or I.

Jesus was, however, in tune with the divine spark that allows one to communicate with God – he was capable of “lowly listening” to his inner voice for spiritual guidance.

Mahatma Gandhi followed a similar line of thought. He referred to it as “the still small voice.

So what does it take to get on Jesus’s spiritual level?

Just listen to your heart. Follow your inner voice.

It takes the courage to be yourself, to run your life based on what feels right, not what safety and rules dictate to us.

You have to believe that your mind has some integrity, and trust it.

You will certainly make mistakes. Sometimes what you think is your heart telling you not to do something is actually fear or doubt masquerading as your inner voice.

It helps to have a clear head, but that’s not always possible. In my personal experience, it’s tough not to freak out at least a little bit when trying to make a big life decision.

So I’ll leave you with this piece of advice, one I’m trying to learn to follow, myself:

Don’t stress about being on the “right path.”
Do the best you can with what you’ve got.

And go with your gut.

Peace.

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