Throughout my own life and that of all of my clients/students, most of our issues and problems come down to one thing — ignoring that Inner Guide that is inside each of us. Yes, it really is that simple.
I think we all know this on some level because it is the essence of our own journey as humans — we ultimately learn that our inner guide is always right in the end. How many times have we ignored that feeling that someone just isn’t right for us, only to be hurt a few months later? Or how many times have we ignored that little nagging feeling that a job isn’t good for us only to have it proven true down the road?
I can say with 100% certainty that your inner guide is right — even if we can’t see it on the front side, it ultimately is true in the end. I suspect if you look over your life, you will confirm this for yourself.
Yet, we humans will engage in many years of fighting our inner guide before we acknowledge this truth. And since this is an internal process, it often takes many, many experiences to build up enough “evidence” that our inner guide is right before we develop the conviction to listen to it.
But when you are a counselor or spiritual leader or coach (like me), you have the honor of not only knowing your own journey but you see the journey of hundreds of others. And I can tell you, your inner guide is alive and well and is doing its best to help you out. I have seen this over and over and over again as have my colleagues in the helping professions. I suspect that is why our collective mantra is about listening within.
I think it’s pretty cool that we have this inner guide — there it is, every day doing its best to help you live a happy and fulfilling life. I guess we do come with operating instructions after all!
But are you listening? Or the better question is, how long does it take you listen? Because, ultimately, your inner guide will keep turning up the volume until you tune in.
What is interesting to me is that we raise our children to listen to their parents, follow the rules, and honor their elders but we don’t spend any time teaching kids about their inner guide. So it’s no wonder that very few of us make it to adulthood with any semblance of a relationship with this inner wisdom.
Here are some examples from my own life — each is true.
- I was once dating a guy and I kept getting this feeling he wasn’t good for me. I suspected he wasn’t being honest with me about some key issues but whenever I would ask him, he would tell me I was wrong with such conviction that it made me doubt myself. This happened over and over again, and I tried to believe him but I just couldn’t let it go. He went so far as to suggest that I had problems with trust and should work on them with a therapist. But guess what? One day, the truth came out and I was right all along! Needless to say, we broke up but I would have saved myself months of agony if I had just trusted myself over him.
- Another time, when I was applying for a new job, I had some odd experiences during the interview process with the person who would be my boss. It made me pause, and I even wrote in my journal about it and asked myself, “But what if she is a nightmare?” Even though the signs were there, there were a lot of good things too and I really wanted the job so I took it — only to have the nightmare unfold. After many attempts to try to improve the situation, I decided that this frustrating battle was not how I wanted to live my life. My inner guide knew all along and if I had listened, I could have saved myself months of working in that toxic environment.
- And the most dramatic example is when my inner guide literally saved my life. I was on vacation in Venezuela with my first husband and his family wanted to go over this mountain road to a popular beach. We had done it before and always had a great time. But on this rainy day, I got this strong, sick sense in my stomach and I said no. They pressured me but I was almost panicky in my need to not go — and even though they teased me, we ultimately did something else. That afternoon, hundreds of people died on that road when the massive Rio Limon landslide buried people alive in their cars.
My journey has been and still is about tuning in and listening to that inner guide. I am getting much better about it but I still find myself wooed by other priorities sometimes. And I know I am not alone in this. After a lifetime of honoring the wisdom of others — parents, teachers, partners, doctors, etc. — it takes practice and commitment to start listening to your inner guide. I now have a practice of always listening by the 3rd time it speaks to me.
Personally, I think this is what both the “mid life crisis” is about as well as the stage of empowerment that middle-aged adults ultimately step into. We cut through the noise and get to the truth of who we are.
This all comes down to loving and respecting yourself. Believing that your inner wisdom is worthy of your attention and has more clout than those external “others” in terms of knowing what is best for you. That is why I love being a coach — because I truly believe that people have their own answers — they just need a little support in listening.
Now that is not to say that our inner truth may not be challenging to implement — sometimes it requires us to disappoint others, to go against the crowd, or even upset people we really care about. And many of us make the choice to prioritize the others, so we ignore our inner guide by shoving the feelings back down with food, or numbing them out with alcohol/drugs/medications, or blasting them at the world through anger and rage.
But in the end, our inner guide is always right. So join me in a week of honoring your inner guide. Make a commitment to listen to it every day for seven days and see what happens. All it takes is a little quiet time and the decision to honor it instead of ignoring it or shutting it down. You will be surprised by the results and I hope some of you will write me or comment on what you learn this week.