Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

Five years ago, my husband Jake was training for a triathlon. He had just purchased a new road bike and woke up one sunny Saturday morning to take it out for its first spin.

As we were lying in bed, he looked at me and said, “I don’t have a good feeling about this; I hope something doesn’t happen.”

I suggested if he had a bad feeling, maybe he shouldn’t go. He thought for a moment, his logical mind kicked in, and he replied, ”Of course I should go, it’s fine. I need to train. It will be okay.”

Fast forward two hours later when I got a call from an unknown number. I answered with trepidation, knowing exactly what this call was going to be. A man told he had just found my husband in the middle of the road. He had an accident and the ambulance was on its way. He would stay with him until it was there.

Turns out, he was lucky to have just broken his femur and hip. Jake knew that morning that something wasn’t right. But instead of trusting his intuition and listening to that inner voice, he went anyway. It happens to all of us.

You often hear people say, “Go with your gut”, “Trust your instincts”, “Follow your intuition” and “Listen to your inner voice.” That all sounds great, right? If only it were that easy.

With all the external noise and internal conflict, how do we listen to our inner wisdom?

When you can tune in to that inner voice, you can make better and faster decisions, solve problems with greater ease, and live a more fulfilled and happy life.

But HOW?

I’ve worked with thousands of people over the course of my career and have learned that while this inner voice shows up in a variety of ways for each of us, we ALL have it.

In this article, I’ll outline some tips and strategies for how to identify and listen to your own inner voice. If you can find that voice and truly listen, it can save you a lot of time, energy, angst….and perhaps even a broken hip along the way.

I understand this might be easier for some than others. But regardless of who you are and how you’re wired, I just know, in my gut something will work for you.

What Is Your Inner Voice?

Call it Gut. Knowing. Insight. Soul. Innate Wisdom. That’s the voice we’re looking for.

The dictionary defines intuition as:

“The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

It’s a hunch, a feeling, an inkling, a sense.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, he explores the inner processes of intuition and instinct, examining how we make snap decisions and judgments. He has numerous examples of people having a hunch, feeling or intuition and how, while there was no hard evidence to back them up at first, science and data eventually backed up what they knew to be true.

Did you know that 95% of our brain activity happens at an unconscious level? Studies from numerous cognitive neuroscientists show that only 5% of our cognitive activity (decisions, emotions, actions, behavior) comes from our conscious mind.

We are taking in information through all our senses all the time – and processing it at an incredible speed. So that intuition, hunch, inkling, sense, voice, is coming from masses of information we can’t even cognitively or consciously process.

Then there’s cognition:

“The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

This is more about understanding. Problem solving. Discernment. Organizing.

This is the logical, thinking part of your mind. Weighing pros and cons; coming to rational conclusions based on data or other factors. These are the voices of reason which often try to override your instincts.

What If You Don’t Hear Any Voice?

Your inner guidance and wisdom aren’t always a voice in your head. Often, it’s a feeling, a sensation, image, energy or emotion. You might notice it your body. There’s no one best or way to experience your inner voice. The important thing is to identify when and where you feel it.

Is It a Feeling in Your Gut?

This is true for many of my clients and for me, personally. You may have heard the gut being called our “second brain.” This is because of the enteric nervous system (ENS). It can operate independently of the brain and spinal cord, and the central nervous system. We really can think with our gut![1]

Celebrity therapist and pioneering hypnotherapy trainer Marisa Peer has this to say: “The stomach is the seat of all emotions and your feelings are the most real thing you have; so the trick is to listen to your feelings. If something feels wrong, your inner voice is saying it is not right for you. If you get the horrible lurch in your stomach, your inner voice is telling you ‘this is wrong’.”

Perhaps It’s in Your Heart

When I asked a Jessie Gardner of HeySoul.com, a friend and colleague known for her acute sense of self-awareness where her inner voice resides, she said, “My heart for sure. Always my heart.” That’s no surprise, our hearts are very intelligent organs.[2]

“Most people don’t know this, but the heart can feel, think and decide for itself. It has around 40,000 neurons and whole network of neurotransmitters with very specific functions, which make it a perfect extension of the brain. It’s automatic, almost instinctive, as if a mysterious, primal voice were telling us that the center of our true being, our conscience, is located right there.”

Maybe the Voice Is in Your Head

When I talked to my Dad about his inner voice, he balked at the idea of feeling it in his gut or heart. Instead, he shared about the voice that comes from the back of his head that talks to him not with him.

Try This: Look, Listen, Feel

We experience inner wisdom in different ways. Maybe you relate to one of my examples? Maybe you “see” a picture, vision or image that comes up in your head. Perhaps you feel sensations in your body – energy, emotions or feelings. As we go through examples of how to listen, pay attention to how and where yours shows up.

Advertising

Why Don’t We Listen to Our Inner Voice?

If this inner voice is so powerful and effective, why don’t we listen?

Logic or Reason Takes Over

We often have a feeling or a sense of something, just like my husband did, but very quickly, our logical mind kicks in to try to understand and comprehend what we feel. This especially happens when we don’t have data or information to back up our hunch or inner voice. We, and of course, others believe it’s not valid if we can’t justify or explain ourselves. So we push our instincts aside.

A recent client told me about how he ignored his inner voice not long ago. He dropped off his 16-year-old daughter at the mall. As she got out of the car, he thought, “I should tell her to make good choices.” But, because her friends were in the car and he didn’t want to embarrass her, he decided not to. His logic, reason and social graces took over. A few hours later he got a call from the mall police. His daughter had stolen a ring. “I knew I should have told her to make good choices.”

We often override our instincts with logic, reason, desire, and, in this case, societal pressure or social graces. But we don’t have to.

We Don’t like the Answer

Sometimes we know what we need to do, but don’t like the answer. This happens with clients all the time when I ask what they sense they should do. They answer, but then reply, “But I don’t want to do that!”

Once, a client told me the story of her wedding, and a knowing that she simply ignored. As she walked down the aisle, she knew that she should not marry the man standing in front of her. Truthfully, she knew long before that day. But she didn’t want to hurt his feelings, call off the wedding, let friends and family down. So, she went through with it. Inevitably, that marriage ended in divorce – and this story is all too common.

We Don’t Know How to Distinguish, Hear or Listen to It

That’s what the following strategies are for! Let’s dive in.

How to Listen to Your Inner Voice

Here are 9 different ways to tune into your innate wisdom and inner voice:

1. Find Quiet

“Be still. The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass

There are lots of ways to find quiet in the busyness of life. Turn off the phone, shut off the TV. Get some time and space to yourself.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Yes, I’m going to recommend you meditate. I know meditation seems to have become the panacea for everything that ails you, and there a good reason for that: it works. It’s one of the fastest, easiest and most effective ways to tap into your inner voice. Meditation aides us to connecting with our true self. Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati said “If you quiet the mind, the soul will speak.” I completely agree.

Another great way to find quiet is to be in nature. Why? Because there’s a connection. It’s grounding. You’re able to tap into the “oneness” of everything. This can shift things energetically. Want the double whammy? Meditate in nature.

You might find your quiet in nature, meditation, yoga, exercise, prayer. Whatever it is, find your quiet.

    2. Push Pause

    Most of us are running a hundred miles an hour in every direction. It’s hard to hear anything at that pace. Have you ever been driving down the freeway with the windows down, listening to music, when the person next to you starts talking. Can you hear them? Of course not. It’s too loud. There’s too much going on. You need to roll up the windows, press pause on the music and stop.

    Advertising

    Our inner voice is speaking to us all the time, but sometimes it’s just too loud or we’re too busy to hear it. Pressing “pause” allows to tap into our innate wisdom.

    When I was studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Mike Bundrant at the iNLP Center gave me a fantastic tool that I share with almost every client. It’s called the AHA Solution.[3] It’s often used to identify patterns of self-sabotage, but in this case, we can use it to listen to our inner voice.

    Next time you have a feeling, a sense, a hunch or intuition, follow this protocol.

    A. Aware: Be aware of what you are feeling. Pay attention and notice.

    H. Halt: This is the pause button. Think about the ways you can respond to what you’re hearing or noticing. You could listen to your inner voice, ask more questions and seek to hear it further. Or, you could choose to ignore it completely and let your cognitive mind take over and convince you it’s okay.

    A. Act: Now that you have options, decide which action you will take.

    3. Invite Your Inner Wisdom to Show Up

    If you want someone to come to your house, you’ve got to invite them over, right? Try taking this approach with your inner voice. While it’s always running in the background, it may have taken a backseat because it can’t seem to get through all the noise. It’s going to speak up more often when it knows you’re open and listening. Take a moment now and invite your inner wisdom to show up. Let it know you are ready and willing to listen. Wait to see what happens.

    4. Ask Your Body

    I love this one; our bodies are so dang smart. They will tell us if we ask and listen. But too often we have disconnected from sensations in our body to push through in the interest of productivity.

    A few months back I was working with a client who came to our appointment with a massive headache. She stopped midway through our session and asked if I would mind if she went and took a couple Advil. Of course I said it was no problem, but asked if she was interested to understand the cause of her headache first. She nodded.

    I had her close her eyes, take a couple deep breaths and ask her head, “What do you need from me right now?” The answer? “I need rest.” She burst into tears. She was exhausted but felt she couldn’t stop. She was leaving for a trip in a couple days, had her son’s birthday coming up and felt completely swamped. However, when she asked the question, her inner wisdom knew what she needed.

    Try this at home. Next time you get something that’s bothering you physically, stop and be still for a moment. Ask that part: What do you need from me? What’s this about? Or What’s going on? And then wait and listen for an answer. This might sound a little out there, but trust me, it works.

    5. Put It in Your ‘Slow Cooker’

    When my Dad has a big problem he’s trying to solve or an important decision to make, he thinks about it before bed. I realize this might go against all advice regarding thinking about stressful things before bed, but that’s just the thing. He isn’t thinking about it or trying to solve it. He just puts the problem in the back of his mind for the night.

    In the shower the next morning, solutions start bubbling up. These are usually spoken to him as if someone is talking to him. “What about this? Why don’t you do this?” It’s usually a very simple answer he hadn’t yet considered. And his response back to himself is frequently, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But he did!

    This goes back to the 95% unconscious part that’s running in the background. When he stops thinking, his mind stops racing and puts the problem in the back of his mind, the unconscious part of him comes up with all sorts of great solutions. A colleague of mine used to refer to this as putting things in her ‘slow cooker’.

    6. Flip a Coin

    Have you ever flipped a coin, only to decide to do the exact opposite of what the coin said? Flipping a coin instigates our instinctive response because it gives us something to react to. When writing this article, My 7-year-old daughter was sitting at dinner one night, deciding who she wanted to put her to bed. She started doing the game, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” Each time she finished, she landed on my husband. So, she went again. And again. Until six attempts later when she landed on me and replied, “I choose Mummy!” When a decision is taken out of our hands and happens to us, it gives us something to react to.

    Advertising

    Try this with a decision you’re trying to make. Flip a coin. Are you happy and ready to go with that answer? Or do you want to go against the decision and try again? Well then, you already know what you want, don’t you?

    7. Eat the Decision

    I just had to include this one. I know it might sound a bit odd, but bear with me. Years ago, I read about a CEO who made all his big decisions this way. Let’s say he was considering acquiring another company. He would sit down and imagine he was eating that decision. Then he would stop and wait and see how he felt. Did he feel energized and alive or sick to his stomach? I love this idea and have tried it myself. It allows you to get out of your head and go into your body to make the decision. This might not be for everyone, but maybe it’s for you!

    8. Take a Step

    Sometimes you don’t know until you’re “in it.” When you’re faced with two choices, make the best choice with the information you have and what you feel is best, and then start moving. You’ll know if that choice is really right for you as you’ll feel good as you move forward. You’ll know it’s wrong if you continue to feel heaviness or resistance. The more you move forward the clearer the signal will become.

    9. Get Some Help

    Whether it be a best friend (who knows how to listen and ask the right questions), a coach or therapist. Having scheduled time to tune in and having someone ask the right questions allows you tap in to what you already know. You already have the answers within you, sometimes you just need a little help to uncover them.

    Moving on with Your Inner Voice

    Like with anything in life, practice makes permanent. It takes time to grow and nurture your inner voice, especially if you’ve ignored it or pushed it to the side for some time now. The more you listen and hone your skills, the better and faster you will become at hearing and listening to your intuition, your gut, your innate wisdom.

    Play with the strategies above and see what works. Better yet, as you read through the ideas, identify which ones you felt or sensed would be good to try. Try those first.

    Practice on small things first, like what you want to eat, what to wear or whether you want to attend that party Saturday night. You don’t have to start with major life decisions, whether you should buy that house or if you should take that job.

    Then:

    • Notice when and where your feel your inner wisdom.
    • Notice when you feel a pull, have a hunch or instinct about something.
    • Notice when you have that sense and your mind tries to override it.
    • Notice when you start talking yourself out of something or start talking yourself into something.

    Need more evidence that this will work for you?

    Think about a time in your life when you recognized and listened to the inner voice – what was the outcome? Now, think about a time when you heard that voice, but for some reason, ignored it or pushed it aside. What was the outcome then? You, know, that time when you felt like you shouldn’t do something, but did anyway? Or had a bad feeling but kept moving forward?

    Final Thoughts

    Pay attention. Next time you have a bad feeling, a sense that something isn’t right, an inkling or a pit in your stomach, pay attention.

    Following your inner voice will lead you to the truth of what’s best for you. Tuning into your innate wisdom will help you make better and faster life decisions, solve problems with greater ease, and live a life of greater happiness, success and fulfillment.

    In the words of Madeleine L’Engle, “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”

      More About Self-Understanding

      Featured photo credit: hiva sharifi via unsplash.com

      Advertising

      Reference

      [1] Scientific American: Gut Feelings
      [2] Exploring Your Mind: The Heart Has Neurons Too
      [3] Mike Bundrant: The A-H-A Solution

      More by this author

      Tracy Kennedy

      Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

      How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power 12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

      Trending in Self-Understanding

      1 30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want 2 24 Self-Reflection Questions To Get You To Rethink About Life 3 Self-Introspection: 5 Ways To Reflect And Live Happily 4 What Is Reflective Practice (And How To Get Started) 5 10 Self-Exploration Practices to Discover Your True Self

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

      30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

      30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

      The weather will always change. Technology will always change. Trends will always change. We will always change.

      In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life.

      One of the things that rarely changes in this world though and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life is your core values. This article will provide you with a core values list of 30 incredible values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.

      What Are Core Values?

      Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down the emotion rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.

      Why Are Core Values Important?

      Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.

      Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies[1] have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.

      30 Best Core Values to Live by

      You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart which is great. If you need some more ideas or haven’t really thought about your core values until now, here are our 30 favourite core values that you can adopt right now.

      1. Acceptance

      The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Being able to understand that on some days you are the hammer, and other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy while doing it.

      2. Adaptability

      Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strikeout. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mould.

      Be adaptable and ready and willing to change when you need to.

      3. Awareness

      Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, to situations. It means being able to see everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.

      4. Balance

      There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.

      Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.

      5. Calmness

      As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make.

      Advertising

      You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.

      6. Community

      Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.

      We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.[2]

      7. Compassion

      Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion you might be able to do help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.

      8. Creativity

      With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people are going to be leading us into the future.

      Someone who cherishes creativity is able to think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.

      9. Discipline

      Discipline will lead you to the life that you want, should you adopt it as a core value.

      “Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things too.

      Discipline to workout means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long-term. And so it goes…

      10. Empathy

      There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to complete strangers too.

      Practising empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their own head, just like you do. That they have a worldview different to yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.

      11. Freedom

      Freedom comes in many forms and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. The freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your own terms, freedom to love and be loved.

      If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better.

      12. Gratitude

      Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself get into a rut.

      Advertising

      You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee that you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.

      13. Happiness

      Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also friends and family.

      When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s idea of happiness.

      14. Health

      They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes whereas a sick man only has one – to be able to get out of bed.

      Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.

      15. Humility

      Humility

      is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

      Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.

      16. Innovation

      The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.

      Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a world of difference.

      17. Knowledge

      Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your own life-sense.

      Knowledge about yourself, others and the world allows you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.

      18. Leadership

      It take guts, determination, confidence and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reason why leadership is such an excellent core value.

      The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?

      Advertising

      19. Love

      It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of Love.

      When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything that you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.

      20. Moderation

      Forget this diet, that diet, eating there, eating then, working out before coffee or always in the afternoon. It’s all noise that works for some people some of the time – moderation is the key.

      Not acting in moderation can also have some damaging consequences, especially for your health.[3] What works well for all people is everything in moderation.

      Of course, life should be fun too so even ‘everything in moderation’, should be in moderation.

      21. Peace

      Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless with both the journey and destination full of rewards.

      Peace enables clear decision-making, freedom in thoughts and actions as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.

      22. Purpose

      Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavour that you might pursue.

      Purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.

      23. Responsibility

      Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can actually be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.

      When other people depend on you and you fulfil your role as provider, not only are they better off but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.

      24. Service

      Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.

      Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they themselves are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

      25. Spirituality

      Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health and emotional health, but spiritual health is just as important.

      Advertising

      Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.

      26. Trust

      Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that also help to develop you as a person.

      To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability and a smidge of humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the centre.

      27. Understanding

      Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be. It is the ability to recognise someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world is and other people are, and to learn to dance with them instead.

      28. Wealth

      Not in the monetary sense but in the ‘having everything that you need sense’. Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy as well as many of the other values on this list.

      Adopt wealth as a core value and it will act as a magnet to other incredible things.

      29. Wisdom

      Contrary to popular belief, wisdom does not come with age but rather, experience. There are many young people with more wisdom than the oldest people that you know. What makes someone wise is their ability to see broadly and clearly, to use good judgement and to be decisive when necessary.

      Wisdom is something that we all should seek.

      30. Wonder

      The final value on this list is wonder and it is the ideal place to finish.

      Wonder is thinking about the possibility of what comes next, dreaming about how you and things could be better, pushing your own boundaries and what you think you are capable of each day.

      Wonder is practical dreaming, and you should start right away.

      Final Thoughts

      Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to not only decide which ones you like the best but also integrate and use them in your daily life.

      Core values are designed to guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. Now you have everything you need to go and live the life that you want to live!

      More About Self-Discovery

      Featured photo credit: AndriyKo Podilnyk via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next