Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to discern what we might do if we were in another person’s shoes, yet at the very same time, struggle with a decision of our own? Why is it so easy to see things with complete clarity when it comes to a situation outside of ourselves, and in the same moment, feel foggy about a situation presented within our own lives? Whether dealing with a big decision related to your career or contemplating what to do in a particular relationship, knowing what’s best for yourself can be tough when personal feelings cloud your perspective.
Let’s face it, we simply don’t have the same emotional attachment to other peoples’ choices or dilemmas as we do with our own. The easiest way to get past the haze of our own emotions when it comes to major decisions for ourselves is to tap into the wisest part of us, which always has the answers regardless of our emotional states or external consensus. Learning how to access your intuition, listen to its guiding voice and trusting in its wisdom is, quite possibly, the simplest key to finding contentment. Until we learn to listen to our gut and also live by what it tells us, we are likely to spend a lifetime chasing the notions of other people, when all along, the only real Truth we have (note the capital “T”) resides directly within us.
While infinite clarity resides within each and every one of us, so many of us rely on the opinions and perspectives of others to guide the way we live. We are sometimes more concerned with popular opinion or fitting in, than taking a little extra time to connect with our inner Truth or intuition. After all, it seems like a lot less effort to simply blow with whatever direction the wind carries us, regardless of where it’s headed, versus finding the courage to lean into the sail and get onto the course we want.
Yet, when we steer our lives based solely on external opinions and advice from others, we begin to disconnect with our own internal compass, which is actually life’s strongest navigator. While gaining perspectives from others can be highly valuable to open our eyes to new ideas and possibilities, our decisions will only bring us happiness when they are aligned with our own internal values. When we ignore our own values in exchange for pleasing the external world, it leads to a lifetime of inner struggle and conflict.
So, how do we establish a strong connection with our own intuition? Here are some helpful tips for accessing your internal voice of wisdom:
1) Make an effort to connect with your intuition, regularly.
So what is your intuition anyways? It’s that part of you with an inner knowing – that guiding voice of clarity and reason amongst any emotional storm. Sometimes, the best way to connect with your intuition is to physically remove yourself from all outside stimulation, and make a conscious effort to go inside and find that inner voice. Moving or sitting meditation can help, such as going for a quite walk or run outside, or simply sitting in still silence for 10 to 20 minutes to establish a connection.
When you engage in these activities, you can make a conscious effort to connect with your intuition by literally calling on your inner wisdom to help guide you on a particular topic or question. Always take note of what comes-up when you do this. Interestingly, sometimes our inner voice tells us things that are different from what our egos want to hear.
Sometimes the easiest way to connect with your highest conscious, or intuition, is to give yourself a bird’s eye view of your own situation. This way, you can see the situation beyond the clouds of emotion that are likely fogging your perspective. The easiest way to step outside of the emotion connected to your own problems, is to make an effort to put yourself into the shoes of a 3rd party.
One exercise I love is to pretend that you are your own best friend, who is hearing the story of your situation for the first time. What questions would be most important for her/him to know? Jot down those questions, and then, take the time to answer them for yourself. Step away from them for a while and then re-read them a little later. After reviewing your answers, ask yourself what advice you’d give your own best friend in this very same situation? Listen to this advice – it’s coming from the wisest part of you.
Watch out for making personal decisions based on what you think another person does or doesn’t expect from you. Also, catch yourself if you find yourself taking action, only to stimulate an external reaction. It’s impossible to get inside the minds of other people, and the dynamics of the external world can easily change on a coin flip. The world outside of your own heart is unpredictable, so the most stable decisions need to be backed by you, first and foremost. Most importantly, the only person who really knows what’s best for you at the end of the day is, quite obviously, YOU.
Ask yourself, regardless of what you think others might think, what can you really live with in the end? Furthermore, thinking beyond yourself, ask what is ultimately the best long-term decision for everyone involved? If you were your own mother or father, how would you tell yourself to move forward? Write these thoughts down, so they can really sink in. Again, your intuition’s choices don’t always align with your ego’s desires, so it’s important to give yourself some time and space to absorb whatever new knowledge arises within a larger framework.
4) Take note of “towards” vs. “away” goals.
Take a piece of paper and divide it in half. Write down all of your reasons for moving forward with a potential action and then categorize them as either something that is bringing you closer to something you want, which falls in the “towards” category, or steering you away from something you don’t want, are trying to avoid, or are afraid to face, which falls in the “away” category. Pay serious attention if the majority of your reasoning falls within the “away” category.
Remember, we cannot run away from our fears and problems – they will simply follow us to every new setting, until we learn to address them head-on. If you find yourself running away from something, then you are likely disconnected from the guidance of your inner truth, which is always aiming to steer you towards your greatest potential. In a nutshell, make sure your “towards list” is longer than your “away list,” prior to taking action.
5) Decipher your Truth from other peoples’ stories.
Sometimes, people around us have such strong emotional reactions to whatever is happening within their lives, that they unconsciously take it upon themselves to pull us into their personal dramas. Before we know it, we’ve allowed ourselves to adopt their moods, or ideas and storylines about us, and accept them as our own personal truths, even though they don’t actually belong to us. For instance, we might take-on someone else’s anger and frustration by reacting to their anger with our own frustration, or allow our happiness and contentment to be contingent upon their happiness or contentment.
When we are able to recognize that we are entraining to another person’s energy or attitude, versus walking in accordance with who we really are, how we want to feel and what we want to experience, then we are able to recognize an important misalignment. This awareness alone makes us 90% more aligned with our own internal wisdom. The remaining 10% involves a re-establishment with the thoughts and emotions we want to feel, as well as recognition of the actions that best coincide with those feelings.
When you notice yourself going too deep into a perceived reality other than your own, start by asking yourself “how true is that story, really?” Then, make a list and get clear with what parts of the story belong to you, versus what belongs to someone other than you. From there, begin to focus your energy on developing the themes that really matter to you and do your best to remain as compassionate as possible for other people’s feelings, while not taking them on yourself.
There’s a great quote I recently read by Michael Pastore that says “it is better to follow the Voice inside and be at war with the whole world, than to follow the ways of the world and be at war with your deepest self.” My interpretation of this is that we can never truly keep up with the expectations of the world outside ourselves because we can only perceive it through our limited senses. So, to allow the world outside to guide our actions and decisions is like letting a wild and unpredictable animal live inside our homes – we will always be taming, running or hiding from it, until it ultimately eats us alive. Talk about a fear-based existence.
On the flip side, our safe harbor is our intuition, which is always within us, even when we cannot hear what it has to say. To access it, we just need to make more of a concerted effort to re-establish a connection with that part of us that knows everything will be okay, and always, and I mean ALWAYS, wants the best for us and everyone else involved.
Sometimes this inner voice may guide us differently than what everyone else around us expects. Just remember, everyone else doesn’t walk in your shoes and they aren’t the ones living your life. With this in mind, there can be no greater wisdom for you than your very own intuition. Connect with it often, listen to what has to say, and even when it’s not exactly what you want to hear, have the courage to trust in its guidance anyway.