“Everyone who wills can hear their inner voice. It is within everyone.”
As a Psychotherapist I believe that all the answers we need are somewhere within us. My role I feel is to act as a companion to help guide people into a space where they can clear their mind and allow their own feelings and insights inform them. In this space the client can journey into their self-awareness and self-understanding and develop the tools to assist them through the inevitable ups and downs of their life journey.
That might sound easy on the surface, but taking a journey into listening to our own inner voice can be a difficult thing to do! We live in a busy active world where we do not give ourselves enough time or space to feel. We can spend much of our time in our heads and believe that our issues can be resolved by thinking things through. I am not knocking the mind, it has its important functions and some of our issues can be resolved by thinking things through. But sometimes our deeper issues just cannot be resolved this way, because something is telling you that the head just does not have the answer!
There are times in our lives where we can feel blocked and confused and we just cannot fathom out what is going to make us feel better. People move from job to job or relationship to relationship because they are searching for something they cannot find. This is when sometimes people come along to see someone like me. “ I just feel dissatisfied”, “ “I do not know what is the matter with me”, I should feel happy but there is something missing”. These often feel like signs to me that the person has to go within and start listening to that little voice that so often we choose to ignore.
By being willing to go on an inner journey and start to listen to our inner voice, we can learn so much about ourselves. We can start to walk a path that feels true to ourselves. I recently had a client who had spent years jumping from job to job. Yes it paid well, but she felt that she was not thriving. It took her some time and a lot of inner listening to finally realise her passion was to work with animals. She started to realign her focus and now she is starting a new life in her field of passion. “It just feels right,” she told me.
What is the inner voice?
Some people ask what is that inner voice? I have heard the inner voice described in various ways and sometimes our inner wisdom can come in various forms. Some people describe it as listening to the heart´s messages, or their gut instinct. Others describe it as listening to their intuition. Some believe it comes from connecting with their higher consciousness or listening to ones soul.
The messages might come as images or as an actual voice but most often it comes from feelings. It is not something you feel in the mind, it is something you feel in the body. Acknowledging those feelings can open up doors to inner exploration and a discovery of what messages lie underneath.
From a scientific perspective, scientists have proven that we have a brain in our gut and that those 2 brains communicate with one another. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation and other feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut. Furthermore, it is thought that gastrointestinal problems can also trigger emotions such as depression, anxiety and stress.
It is not known by many of us that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Heartmath say, that these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function, influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
So how do we access our inner voice?
Learning to listen, trust and align yourself with your inner voice can be challenging to start with and some people say, “I just cannot hear it”, but the more you practice the easier it can become.
One of the best ways to start listening to our inner voice is by slowing down and starting to notice our body. We live so much in our heads that we have come to forget that our body is also part of our wisdom. Connecting with our body can start to help us get out of our heads. Practising mindfulness, meditation or doing guided visualisations can quieten us down enough to start noticing what messages are coming up from within.
Do not push yourself
Once people start to work on listening to their inner voice they can start to strain to listen, but pushing can block these feelings. Remaining open and aware is a good place to start. Notice with curiosity the changes and feelings in general within your body. The more you connect with the body the easier listening to our inner voice becomes.
Often the biggest barrier to not listening is ourself! Sometimes we just do not trust ourselves enough. We listen to that voice in the mind that talks us in then out of things, the one that doubts us so often. We are also influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others and sometimes this guides us away from listening to our own inner voice.
How often do we do something only to say afterwards “I just knew I should not have done that”! If we get a message from our instinct, we can teach ourselves to listen and value that message. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses the term Somatic Markers to describe the sensation in our body that tells us when a choice feels wrong or right. Our conclusions through our gut feelings often arrive long before the mind can come to a reasoned conclusion. It is at this crucial moment when we can allow the mind to take over and override our gut message.
Many people who are practised at listening to their inner wisdom can distinguish not only gut instinct but the feeling of the heart´s wisdom. Love and relationship issues for example are often asking you to look into your heart for insight. We may ask a friend who is in trouble “ what does your heart tell you to do”?
Explore the things that make you happy
There are times when we do things where everything can feel aligned, we feel alive, yet at peace, all seems just right. The more we can explore what makes us feel happy we get a clearer idea of maybe what does not align with us and what does not make us feel so happy. I am a big journaling fan; a great self-awareness exercise is to think of those things that align with your happiness and those that do not. You can look at specific experiences, where was I? Who was I with? What was I doing? Etc. This exploration of inner knowledge can help you to start reorganizing your life towards one that resonates best with you.
What are the benefits?
Well there are many! Listening to our inner voice can guide us on our life path, it can align us with our passions and guide us towards living a life that make us feel happier and more at peace with ourselves. It can help us resolve our problems and to change things where they need to be changed. It can reduce stress and it can save you the time of pursuing things that do not bring you inner satisfaction. Of course, we all encounter difficulties in life and listening to our inner voice does not mean we can always avoid those difficulties. But it certainly enhances your capacity to be true to yourself and live your life closer to one that resonates best with you.
I would love to hear about any benefits you have found by working in alignment with you inner voice.