Trusting Your Inner Voice

Most people have gone through an experience in their lifetime that may have been uncomfortable in some way or made them feel vulnerable given the particular circumstances.  During times such as those, you often get signals or cues that let you know when something is not right.  For example, if you missed the bus late at night and have to walk through dark streets or alleyways, you may have felt in danger for some reason or that you had to get out of that situation as soon as possible.  We’ve come to know this phenomenon by several names such as your intuition, your sixth sense, your gut feeling, or perhaps your inner voice.  Your inner voice is instinctual and often speaks to you when you are least expecting it.  It has come to be akin to an internal compass of sorts. Sometimes your inner voice is providing guidance; sometimes your inner voice is warning you about something; sometimes your inner voice provides a rationale for doing something impulsive; and sometimes your inner voice helps to bring clarity and context to confusing situations.  Over time many people come to trust their inner voice as their personal experience has proven it right or wrong.

What is sometimes curious is that most people I meet pay more attention to their inner voice when the message is negative than they do when the message is positive.  Perhaps this is our survival instinct kicking in or perhaps we as humans have a louder, more acute inner voice when faced with adversity, difficulty, or challenge of any sort.  But why don’t we listen to our inner voice, our instincts and gut feelings when the messages and cues are positive?  Sometimes we come to a crossroads in our life where we know instinctively that taking one course of action will be better for us holistically, yet we may choose not to listen to our inner voice and take a different course of action.

A tangible example of this in many people’s lives is choosing a field of study for higher education. For example, you inner voice may tell you to study art or music in school because you are artistically talented and know that choosing this course of study will further develop your talent and make you happy.  But pressure from others may lead you to choose economics, law, or science because of the financial realities of today’s world.  And even though you may get good results in your academic programme, you are not fulfilled and don’t look forward to a career in the field you have studied. A similar example is choosing a particular career path.  You may be fortunate enough to have multiple job offers – one that brings you happiness while the other may bring you greater wealth.  Your inner voice may tell you to choose the path of happiness because you are more likely to be successful at a career you are highly motivated to be in, but you end up choosing the career that brings you more financial wealth because your fear or pressure from others influences you to choose the easier path in life.  This may bring you comfort but will not necessarily bring you happiness and success.

If you are going to succeed you have to be able to temper your inner voice when you receive negative messages and learn how to transform your instinct for survival into your instinct for success.  By this I don’t mean simply doing things carelessly without performing any due diligence.  But rather you should not stop your course of action at the first negative message – you should listen to the message, reflect on it, then try and come up with viewpoints that counter the negative messages to see the situation differently and once you’re comfortable that you’ve looked at the situation from different perspectives, then charge forward with a course of action that you feel sure about.  It’s important not to misunderstand – there will always be an important place and purpose for the negative messages your inner voice may give you, but not every situation will be like this.  It might sound like hard work and a long process, but after going through it a few times, it will start to be like second nature to you.

Transforming your instinct for survival into your instinct for success also means consciously paying more attention to the positive messages and cues your inner voice gives you. So many times in our lives we get these messages but fail to take notice of them for whatever reason.  Yet if we were more consciously aware of these messages and listened to them more often, we would surely begin to understand ourselves a lot better and build the confidence we need to pursue our goals with greater clarity of purpose.