There are times when we get a premonition or a gut feeling about a situation. Perhaps it’s a flash or an insight that shows us events to come. Or perhaps it’s a feeling that what we’re doing leads us astray from what we truly want.
Sometimes we listen and respond to our premonitions and sometimes we don’t. What I want to explore here is why don’t we listen to ourselves? Why do we choose to tune out our feelings, intuitions and observations? And, if we made the effort to tune in, how could we listen to ourselves more effectively?
What I’ve learned through my work is that people have unique ways of processing information, though there are commonalities that run through particular personality types. I try to help people learn how to best hear, listen, and then respond to their inner-guidance.
All too often, we don’t recognize our feelings or sensations as inner-guidance. We might feel ill-at-ease or hear an inner voice express concern. Yet, somehow we fail to realize that we’re receiving crucial information from within and not simply churning thoughts or ill-founded worries.
You might ask: “once we understand this internal information as guidance why on earth would we choose to not listen to it?”
We generally disregard our inner-wisdom for several reasons. Most often our inner-guidance cuts against what we want to be true or how we want things to go. Sometimes, though, our minds are so cluttered with the details of our everyday lives that we cannot fully hear what our bodies are trying to tell us. It’s easy to lose sight of our deeper truth in the busy-ness of modern life.
To hear our inner-guidance we need to clear out our clutter. We need to clear it out from our lives, our minds, and our hearts.
Once we’ve made some space, we’re better equipped to tune into and listen to ourselves. The truth is that the messages we receive from within are frequently direct and simple. They tell us: “Stop doing this or start doing that.” Our job is to focus and refocus on the simplicity of the guidance we’re getting and figure out how to align ourselves with that simplicity.
This skill is more of an art. Aligning and realigning with our inner-guidance takes an equal measure of finesse and surrender.
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The saying, “listen to your gut”, really makes sense. Your gut is basically your digestive system. You know when you feel hungry. Some physical signs can include stomach pains, growling, or even headaches. If you feel tired, your body is usually dragging. It’s incredible but true, your body just knows!
Our body always talks to us but we’ve taken it for granted. In fact, when a psychotherapist wants a client to connect to his/her feelings, she will ask, “Where in your body do you feel_______”.
It is essential to to make the feeling-body connection. Otherwise, one externalizes feelings and situations instead of understanding that it comes from within. The answer is always within.
Do you recall a time when you knew how you felt in your body about something but you didn’t listen? How about when you did listen? Did you listen right away or did it take time? Think about the consequences of listening vs not listening. I am certain that when you listened the outcome was more favorable.
I believe we humans are not as conditioned as we’d like to listen to our bodies. I do believe we have certain feelings, like fear or nervousness, that can be very strong. The fight or flight response comes to mind. But there are the more subtle signs that come from our bodies that we have not yet tuned into.
I know I had a hard time tuning in to my intuition. It definitely took me some time to learn to listen to it, at least in terms of making important life decisions. But why? What got in the way? Why couldn’t I tune in? Well, of course! The dreaded mind! Our mind is often very busy undermining us. It is very good at distracting us from what we already know in our heart, in our soul.
As a business owner there are so many things to think about. But there are as many to feel about! According to Human Design, a subject I learned about at my retreat, our mind (head) is in charge of reason, logic, and execution. But it is not the Authority. Our mind wants to be the authority and make the decisions for us but our Authority lies below the throat center, within. This is a fascinating subject to learn more about and can help you understand more about how you, the unique you, functions.
As children, we are definitely more attuned to our bodies but contamination happens and our bodies get silenced as we get older. Or at least it seems a little harder to hear when we get older, literally for some of us, right?
Where does this contamination come from? Usually from things we are taught as children or grow up believing about ourselves. It could be we learn that we shouldn’t make noise or speak up. It could be that we learn that what we feel is not important. Both of those beliefs can silence us and our bodies.
Trauma is another example of something that silences our bodies. Especially physical or sexual. This subject area is more delicate and needs special intervention but your can begin to understand how different situations in our childhood or throughout our life affect our ability to pay attention and listen to our voice, our truth, our intuition, our bodies.
As adults, how can we decontaminate and practice listening and paying attention to our bodies? By being more aware of our bodies. By knowing that we can trust our voice, our intuition. By realizing we can and should feel connected to our bodies, our hearts, our souls. And by doing physical activity to help us do just that.
The practice of yoga, quieting the mind and connecting to the source, is a good way to help us listen more to our bodies, our soul, our hearts. Dancing is another activity that helps you focus on your body, as long as you can stop thinking about your next step. Letting go of our thoughts can be so very complicated and yet so necessary.
Everyday we have an opportunity to FEEL MORE and THINK LESS. When you woke up this morning, how did you feel? Sleepy? Where in you body did you feel sleepy? Or maybe you felt tired? Where in your body did you feel tired? Did you feel energized or excited? Where in your body did you feel this? When you arrived at work, how did you feel? Where did you feel it?
The above is a good example of how we can practice getting used to making the feeling-body connection. Try it! Maybe it could be a nice practice to help you listen and pay more attention to what your body is telling you. Just remember, think less, feel more!
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I consider myself really lucky to have worked and studied with some truly great people. One of those people is Lin Morel. I can’t even tell you how many times she has saved my butt or gotten me back on track when I needed it with her innate wisdom.
One of the things that Lin has helped me with is learning how to trust my intuition even more. This has been a lifelong process for me. I rely on it so heavily in all that I do and yet I still sometimes find myself overriding it with my head. So, this week has been about hearing it and taking immediate action. I highly suggest this. One week might change your life!
We all have a little voice inside that tells us what we should do. And, if you are like most people you have also wondered whether that voice should be listened to or whether it is actually just fear, doubt, escapism or fantasy. (If you are new to the little voice inside it might help you to know that this “voice” can be a feeling, words, or even colors and tastes.) When we develop our ability to listen to this inner voice we gain a lot of power to navigate our way through the world. So, how can we develop it?
First let’s start to look at some things that people mistake for their inner voice:
Fear and Doubt: Fear and doubt are sneaky and they quickly jump in the way of our highest and best self and potential. They tell us that it was all a mistake. Or, that this could not really be the right way. Or, sometimes they just shut us down completely.
Escapism and Fantasy: These two feel good but they keep us looking for something other than what we have. They are usually used to avoid the hard work that we might need to do.
Now let’s look at what might help us hear that inner voice more:
When it is good it is simple and clear: A client and brilliant yoga instructor and therapist, Grace Dulude said on the phone with me today “You go in the direction of the energy.” If it is intensely fearful or intensely good that is where you want to go. Why? Because, the energy is drawing you to the next step.
Ok! Well, I think you might have a clue of how challenging that can be at times. Especially when we are feeling intense negative emotions like fear or anger but give it a try. You will find that you inner guidance is a powerful GPS for your success and fulfillment.
I’ve heard the statement “just be yourself” so much. It sounds like an amazing thing to do, and I have wished many times that I could just do that. What I’ve wondered, though, is what in the world does that mean?
What if someone is a jerk to other people? Is it okay for them to just be themselves and go on being a jerk to everyone? How about people who are fearful of being around others and live a hermit-like life, avoiding people?
In my quest for answers I’ve found that it is very much possible to just be yourself. The person who is a jerk to others and the person who is afraid of social situations are, in actuality, not being themselves. Their real self is just being covered up with conditioned, fear-based thinking.
Our true self is who we really are when we let go of all of the stories, labels, and judgments that we have placed upon ourselves. It is who we naturally are without the masks and pretentiousness.
It is who we really are when we let fall to the floor the cloak of other people’s stuff that we have taken on.
Everything else that we claim to be when we say, “This is who I am!” is only a story.
Below are some steps that have helped me in uncovering my real nature, which is that being outside of the accumulated thoughts and beliefs that I have collected over a lifetime.
1. Get in touch with your inner child.
If you ever watch small children, you will notice just how free they are and how little they care about what other people think of them. They are happy and in the moment.
They are their true natures. They have not yet been socialized to “fit in” to a society that squashes that. They don’t care if people think that they are silly while they dance in the front yard for all of the neighbors to see.
Children are just pure love and light. If you really want to get in touch with your inner child, become freer. Play, have fun, enjoy the moment, do cartwheels in the front yard.
My son has taught me this more than anything. He has helped me to see just how stiff and serious I can be. Thanks to him, I have tapped back into something that was forgotten.
We play roles to fit into society and we suppress our true nature out of fear of what others think. If you find yourself worrying about being judged, remember that is merely just the socialized you, not the real you.
2. Become more aware of your thoughts.
You may be shocked by the number of negative thoughts that run through your mind on any given day. After so long, our reality begins to take shape based on all of these conditioned thinking patterns.
Become more aware of the quality of your thinking. Allow yourself to sit quietly every morning before starting your day for just five to ten minutes.
Yes, thoughts will come and go, but just allow them to do that without getting attached to them. Just observe them. When you are finished, continue observing the mind throughout your day.
We have so many unconscious beliefs that we have taken on over the years that were probably handed down to us from somebody else, and that we believed to be who we are. Becoming more aware of the quality of your thoughts, letting go of the old beliefs, and becoming more present can help in revealing your true nature.
We are all so much more than those old negative thinking patterns would ever allow us to believe.
3. Follow your intuition.
This is probably one of the most important factors in being yourself. I ignored my intuition for the longest time because I felt so obligated to others. Their happiness was more important than my own.
I lived at home until I was twenty-five, ignored my urges to move to a new city, and stayed in unfulfilling jobs because I was so afraid of what other people would think of me, of failing, and of stepping out of my comfort zone. Because of this, I was incredibly unhappy.
I will tell you this, from my own personal experience: When you start following the little nudges and urges that you get, you will have hopped onto the magic carpet ride of awesomeness.
It doesn’t mean that you will never have bumps in the road again, but when you are in alignment with your soul, you will always be steered in the best possible direction.
For me, it started when I followed my intuition out of a job where I was miserable, which was way out of character for me. I had nothing lined up, but thanks to my intuition, I landed back on my feet within a few months in an awesome new job.
Now, before you go quit your job, you can begin with small things, such as following through when you feel the urge to make a phone call, send an email, or take a different route to work. When you get into the habit of doing this with small things, it will make it easier to say yes to the big things, and to trust.
How do any of these things help you to just be yourself? Because they help you to be in alignment with your true nature.
Your authentic self is the real you that is beyond all of those conditioned beliefs and thinking patterns that you have accumulated throughout your life.
I was once a shy, reclusive, depressed, angry person—but I wasn’t “being myself.” While it is important to love and accept ourselves for where we are at the moment, looking back now, I see that I suppressed my true nature in order to please others and to fit in.
I began going within and doing spiritual study and practice in my late twenties, and have since become more aware of how much I was identified with my victim story, how I would play roles depending on who I was with, and just how much I cared about other people’s perceptions of me.
I had lost touch with my natural self and stuffed it away in a box. Whenever I would notice myself getting attached to the stories and labels in my head or would catch myself playing roles with others, I would just breathe and relax into the moment without any labels or judgments.
It was a challenge because I cared so much about being accepted by others. So I would ask myself, “How would I act right now if I had no cares of what others thought of me?” I realized that who I naturally am without anything else added is perfectly okay.
When you let go of the old ways of thinking, follow your bliss, and do what you love, you begin to align with happiness and peace. These are all indicators that you are connected with your true nature. You are then allowing your real self to shine forth in all its glory.
Victoria Ayres is a Certified Life Coach and writer. For inspiration on living a life of presence, passion, and purpose, please visit www.VictoriaAyres.com