How To Listen To Your Inner Voice And Make Better Decisions
When was the last time you heard your inner voice telling you to do something?
Did you take its message to heart?
Or did you run it by someone who wrote it off as “paranoia” or “magical thinking”?
Before we go further, let's be clear that I’m not talking about the voice of anxiety or of any negative thinking habits you might have.
Your inner voice takes precedence over both.
But why should you listen to your inner voice?
And what can you do to recognize it when it speaks?
What is your inner voice?
Your inner voice speaks for your “gut.”
Whether you want to call it intuition, instinct, or a sixth sense, the inner voice comes when your subconscious has already processed details of which you may not be consciously aware.
Think of your conscious mind as the tip of your brain iceberg.
What goes on beneath the surface is much more impressive than what you can manage with your conscious mind — however brilliant you are.
Your intuition isn’t concerned with your IQ; it’s rooted in your highest good, and if it’s sending you a message, it’s because you need to hear it.
Not only that, you need to act on it.
And if you don’t, you’re likely to regret it.
How to Listen to Your Inner Voice
If you’ve failed to heed your inner voice, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re human.
As a rule, we like to be able to supply evidence of a clear and reasonable thought process when we have tough decisions to make — especially those on which our survival or that of our business depends.
So, when our inner voice speaks up and tells us to do something contrary to what the evidence is telling us, we want to say, “Yeah, but… “ and argue the point until we’ve convinced ourselves we’re right and that little voice is wrong.
What can you start doing today to learn how to hear your own voice?
1. Take time out to consider your impressions and gut reactions.
Instead of dismissing that inner voice when it says something like, “Don’t hire that person.
You know there’s a reason something just feels off about him,” ask yourself why it might be saying that.
Give your inner voice a chance to tell you more than the soundbite version of its message — which is too easy to dismiss in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.
If your gut is warning you about someone or something, chances are there’s something you haven’t consciously noticed that could turn an otherwise auspicious move into a cautionary tale.
2. Pay attention to your own body’s response.
When your gut is trying to warn you, it’ll often muster more than a voice in the back of your mind to get its message across.
Look back and try to remember the last time you felt yourself hesitating before a “no-brainer” decision because you started to feel one of the following symptoms:
- Stomach ache
Listen to your body and recall whether you experienced similar symptoms the last time you were about to choose an action counter to your inner voice’s promptings.
I can’t promise the symptoms will subside when you heed your gut’s warnings and act on them.
There may be backlash from those who disagree with you.
But the cost of disregarding those warnings is likely to be worse.
3. Give yourself a change of scenery.
Sometimes, just removing yourself from a situation helps you to consider it from a different angle and to be more open to other messages — including that of your intuition.
Going outside into nature and taking a moment to savor the beauty around you can make you more receptive to the voice that’s too easily drowned out.
When you’re surrounded by people trying to sway you in a particular direction, one small voice in the back of your head is easily outweighed.
If you can, go someplace where you can be alone, take some deep breaths, and ask your intuition for guidance.
Just removing yourself from the echo chamber for your conscious mind can help you make more space for that inner voice.
4. Meditate on the problem.
If it’s not enough to get away from an environment hostile to that inner voice, carve out some time for some actual meditation.
It’s one thing to give your inner voice a place at the table; meditation hands over the mic.
Only when you do this can you then sit quietly and listen to all that your intuition is trying to tell you.
Don’t expect an IMAX theater production in your head showing you exactly what will happen if you go with Plan A.
But just by giving your intuition the floor, you’ll come away from your meditation with more confidence in your ability to see more than meets the eye.
5. Sleep on it.
If the answer doesn’t come during your waking hours, give your subconscious a chance to work on the question while you’re sleeping.
When you’re sleeping, your conscious mind has no choice but to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, the brain beneath the surface is busy looking at all the angles and considering information not readily available to your conscious mind.
It’s creating a scene with more details than your conscious mind can recall and making conclusions based on premises your conscious mind hasn’t yet grasped.
When you wake, if you remember anything from the dreams you had, write them down.
Take a moment, even if you have nothing to write down, to thank your subconscious for working on the question at hand.
Ask for guidance in making the right decision.
Don’t be surprised if your inner voice grows louder as a result.
6. Train yourself to heed your inner voice.
Implementing any of the five previous tips will help you hone your intuition, so you can be more attentive to your inner voice.
But in order to hear that voice clearly when it speaks, it’s important to develop your intuitive alertness every day.
If you take the time for these tips only when you have an important decision to make, they can certainly help.
But you’ll be better able to recognize and attend to that inner voice if you’re already in the habit of listening to it.
When you make time every day to meditate and allow your inner voice to speak and guide you (in little things as well as big ones), you keep the lines of communication open between your conscious mind and your intuition.
And that can only help you when it comes time to make another big decision.
7. Bounce ideas off your fellow intuitives.
You never know when someone else’s words will echo the inner voice that’s been trying (and only partially succeeding) to get your attention.
It can’t hurt to run your thoughts by an understanding friend or family member who takes their own intuition seriously.
When you’re surrounded by people who make you feel small for taking that little voice to heart — and you’re plagued by your own reasonable doubts — it’s too easy to dismiss your gut and follow the lead of your conscious mind and those who agree with it.
And this holds true even when you’ve done the same in the past and have come to regret your decision.
If your intuition isn’t quite loud enough to drown out the naysayers, talk to someone whose understanding can amplify its message.
Are you listening to your inner voice?
Maybe you’ve gotten to the point where you’re tempted to roll your eyes whenever someone tells you to “listen to your heart.” And if you’re nodding your head, there’s a reason for that.
Like it or not, the heart has a reputation for leading people to personal disaster.
Sure, it sometimes leads someone to their true love or to their dream job. Other times, the endings aren’t so happy.
The gut, on the other hand, has a reputation for helping people avoid disaster.
Hence the reason people tend to shrug and accept it (rather than roll their eyes) when you tell them you followed your gut.
But however you choose to express your appreciation for that inner voice of yours, express gratitude for it every day.
And do something each day to include your heart and your gut in your decision making.
May your intuition and your courage influence everything you do today.