From the day we are born we are told that we should listen to others, whether it’s doing what our parents tell us, teachers, police, doctors or people who are ‘older and wiser’, we are born believing that other people know what is better for us than we do. After all, they’re older, more experienced, more intelligent.
The thing is, we are all born with an inbuilt compass. An internal guide that is designed to steer us on the right path, keep us safe and help us make the best and healthiest choices for our life’s journey. We can all think of times where we have had a strong ‘gut instinct’ that we should or shouldn’t do something, we may not be able to reason why we have such a strong feeling but the times we have, and haven’t, followed this feeling are likely to be pretty defining.
However, as we grow older and believe we should seek the advice and opinions of others in everything we do, we tend to drown out that inner guide, that small voice that tries to steer us. Living a life where you are constantly seeking the advice and opinion of others often results in a great deal of unhappiness as you are making choices for you based upon other people’s life experiences. Nobody knows what is the best path for you like you do.
If you find that you are on a path where you have drowned out your inner voice, there are ways you can tune back in and reconnect to it, these are three of my favourite ways.
1. Be Still – Often when we have some big decisions to make we become so consumed with internal chatter in our minds that we cannot see the woods for the trees. Simply finding a moment to be still can help you silence your mind and tune into that inner voice that comes from a much deeper place.
2. Trust Your Gut – Our gut instinct often kicks in loudly when we are in a threatened situation, think of a time where your gut instinct has been to leave a place or take a different route. However, our gut instinct can also guide us on more simple day to day decision making we just need to listen to it. Try this simple exercise to tune back into it:
Find somewhere quiet and focus on slowing your breathing by taking deep slow breaths
Now place your hands on your lower stomach just below your belly button
Just notice how it feels here
Now ask yourself a question you have been deliberating about
Notice any changes in feelings, flutters, bubbles, nausea etc
Notice if those are positive or negative feelings.
If you have drowned out your gut for many years, this exercise may not work overnight but persevere with it and you will soon tune back in to what feels right or wrong for you.
3. Become a Human Pendulum – A technique I love to teach delegates on my courses is for them to learn to tune back into our body. Our body reacts to situations long before that message has been processed in our brains and therefore will know what is right or wrong for us before we have had a chance to rationalise things or talk ourselves out of them. The easiest way to do this is to follow this simple exercise:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, making sure you feel strong and rooted
Now whilst standing in this position, calm your breathing
When relaxed, say 3 truths outloud or in your head, for example ‘my name is’, ‘i have XXXXX coloured hair’ etc
Now on tell a ridiculous lie for example ‘I have three legs’
Notice how your body feels during each sentence you say
When we tell an untruth, our muscles weaken slightly and you will notice that you body will sway gently (or violently at times) when you tell an untruth.
This technique can be used to ask whether you should or shouldn’t do something, repeat the process with some truths to begin with then a yes or no question to end. If the answer is a no, then your body will weaken and react.
Tuning back into your inner voice will undoubtedly help you in life, the more you listen to it, the less you will need to seek the counsel and approval of others. Plus, you will be making decisions which are far less likely to turn out to be negative experiences.
Finally, for all you parents out there, I urge you to encourage your children to listen to this gut feeling, to get them to know when things feel right or wrong. One piece of advice I consistently give my daughter is to ‘listen to your gut and if something feels wrong, don’t do it, even if it goes against what I or someone else has told you to do’.
I would love to hear some of your gut instinct stories and how you have or haven’t listened to it at times?