If in the previous post I was telling You about how to actively listen to another person, today’s article is all about You: How To Be Yourself and How to Listen to Your Intuition/Gut Feeling/Heart/Inner Voice. (I will use these terms alternatively, but referring to the same thing.)
4 Awesome Things You Will Discover In This Post (a 2′-4′ read for Speed Readers, 8′-10′ for usual readers) :
-What Does It Mean To “Just Be Yourself”
-How To Listen To Your Intuition
-How To Trust Your Gut Feeling
-How To Follow And Do What Your Inner Voice Tells You To Do*
* even if it’s scarier than if you had to speak in the next 5 minutes in front of a room of 1000 people. About a topic on which You are supposed to be The Expert. And You suddenly discover that You forgot. EVERYTHING. Your mind is totally BLANK. Your mouth goes dry, your heart beats like getting out of your chest, and cold drops of sweat start dripping along your spine…
Most of the times, when You are trying to follow your Gut feeling against Your Mind, it feels a gazillion times scarier than the above episode.
Just Be Yourself: What Does It Really Mean Anyway?
Every great master, every thousand of years old teachings or new-age-self-help-book repeats in one way or another, this message: Just Be Yourself. Sounds simple, but how do we actually Do something that involves Being?
To find some answers I looked for what two of the most inspiring, amazing men of our times said about this: Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson.
“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.” Sir Richard Branson
IMHO, the core message in these 2 quotes on living a life on Your own terms is:
Listen to and Follow Your Heart, Your Intuition, Your Gut Instinct.
I feel we’re getting somewhere now:
So, The #1 piece of advice on How to Be Yourself is: Listen To Your Heart/Gut Instinct!
That’s a bit clearer now…OK, I got it: Be Yourself = Listen To Your Gut Feeling.
While the index finger of your right hand starts scratching the back of your head, You might wonder: “how do I know which one of the gazillion voices in my head comes from my Heart? And how can I trust just One to be The Right one? and what if I am wrong…? and…uh…?”
Honey, I wish I had an exact recipe for this, one I could have used during the many times when I felt lost, confused and frustrated.
While I didn’t find the Holy Graal of the Inner Voice Listening yet ;), I did discover 3 simple, easy to do, down to earth steps You can take to start tuning in, trusting and following your inner voice.
It all comes down to answering these 3 questions:
… Listen To Your Gut Feeling?
… Trust What You Feel From Your Heart?
… Follow Your Intuition?
Let’s take them one by one.
1. How To Listen To Your Gut Feeling?
Or how to listen to your inner voice? No matter how we call it, it all comes down to re-connecting with our body.
For me, it’s a sensation I have in my gut. Literally. I can feel something in the area of my stomach. Sometimes around my heart.
For example, in any given situation, no matter how complicated it might seem, You can reduce it finally to a Yes or No.
How does this feel for me?
I feel a warmth, an opening and a softening of my gut area when the answer is YES.
I feel a contraction, a heaviness, a kind of closing and shrinking when the answer is NO.
Sometimes the feeling is more subtle, it’s not very physical but it’s a strong Yes or No that comes within seconds of considering a given offer, path, meeting, whatever.
Every time I’ve acted against this voice, I repeat, every – single – time I did this, I ended up admitting that my gut feeling was right and my mind was wrong. (So I hope this answers the question that might be still lurking in the back of your head: “Should You follow your intuition?” Hell, yeah!)
Many a times, listening or not to my gut feeling made the difference in between months or years of struggling, pain and suffering or being in flow, in tune, on my path.
Different people have different ways of tuning in with their inner voice and of feeling it on a physical level.
Some experience sensations similar to mine, or different ones, around their throat, shoulders, or head.
The most common is the stomach or gut area, but You must discover for yourself how Your body communicates with You. For more details on this, see step #2.
2. How To Trust What You Feel From Your Heart?
If You are not yet used to tuning in with your gut feeling and trusting it, at first You might be confused and doubt its message. There are so many messages You receive from the outside world and from your mind!
“How do I know which one is from my heart?” How to hear your intuition?
I wish there was a special service like this for tuning in with your gut feeling:
When in doubt call 0-800-HEART: for Your Inner Voice, press #1. For your Mind’s voice press #2. For any other Voices, please hold for an operator 🙂
Because such a hotline doesn’t exist on planet Earth, what do You do instead? You call Your mother, or Your best friend, Your sister, Your therapist, anyone to help You get more clear about Your issue.
Well, let me give You a shortcut. Every time we turn to other people for advice, is not because we don’t Know what to do. It’s because we are afraid to follow what our gut feeling is telling us, and so we put a layer of doubt that comes from our mind.
“What if I am wrong?” Oh, the terror that comes with this question! The hours spent tormenting ourselves, making lists of pros and cons, researching, asking everyone for an opinion, even our cat or dog.
Anyone seems more competent and more reliable than us. Do You realize the irony of it all? How could any other living creature on this wonderful planet know better than Yourself what is right for You??
Of course, sometimes, in specific areas, talking with our friends, or asking for expert advice is more than recommended. Like talking with an accountant or a lawyer about a specific topic. But when it comes to “matters of the heart” You already Know and have all the answers You need. “Oh, no, not me, I am clueless at this.” Yes, You too!
So how do You learn to trust your inner voice? Just like in any other skill You learned to master, you need to do 3 things: 1. practice. 2. practice. 3. practice 🙂
A very good way to exercise your tuning-in skill, is this: start tuning in with Yourself every day, even when it comes to so called small actions like: what do I want to eat for lunch? Do I want to go out this evening? Do I really want to spend time with this person?
“Come on, do I need do consult with my inner voice for these actions?”
Let me ask You this instead: did You start your driving lessons directly on the highway, running with 120mph or did you start in the parking lot, learning the basics and slowly moving until you got the hang of it?
Don’t underestimate the power of small steps, honey! Once You keep tuning in throughout Your day, You start to develop exactly what You want: discern Your gut feeling from the information overload You are exposed to constantly and Trust its messages.
The “wax in, wax out” technique never fails. 🙂
3. How To Follow Your Intuition?
Most of the times, the challenge that comes after you recognised your gut feeling and trusted its message, is to take Action upon it.
Because it’s one thing to distinguish that Inner Voice from the gazillion thoughts from your mind, another one to learn to Trust it, and another thing to actually Do what it tells You.
Like saying “No” to a well- paid – but – brain-dead job offer when You are taking the first steps on the thin ice of your newly launched freelancing career. Or saying “Yes” to a low paid internship in that company You’ve always dreamed of working with, even though you have no idea how You will manage to pay the rent at the end of the month. Or saying “No” as soon as You realise that this new project You started working on makes Your stomach churn and You hate everything about it. (You can read more on the lures and obstacles on the way to escaping the 9-to-5 here)
I am sure You have your own tough decisions to make every once in a while. In these moments, it really helps to have a circle of like minded people who will support You to take the right actions, according to Your Intuition. During tough times, your herd makes the difference between falling back or getting ahead on your path.
Otherwise, it’s just a matter of practice. I know, I might sound like a broken record on this, but, from my experience, that’s how it works.
And You learn that the more You listen and act upon it, the easier it gets. Even when You feel like the rug’s been pulled off from under your feet. Even then. You just learn to act in spite the Fear. And then because You build a momentum of Trust, it gets easier.
The Fear is never gone, You just learn to accept it as part of the process, as You challenge Yourself more and more on Your path with a Heart. It’s a wonderful path to be on. Because it’s Yours!
Wrapping Up – How to Listen To Your Intuition
#1 Start by observing and discerning the physical sensations in your body associated with a “Yes” or a “No”.
#2 Practice tuning in with Your Inner Voice often, on small actions and decisions You need to make as You go about your day.
#3 Refine your skill and build Your Trust into it by constantly checking in with Yourself before and after You’ve made those decisions.
#3 Act and take the steps according to Your Inner Voice, in spite of The Fear, when it comes to so called “big, important” actions or decisions.
So this is my experience and how I see the whole Listen- To – Your -Intuition story.
Now I would like to know about YOU.
How do You listen to Your gut feeling? How does it feel for You? Do You have any awesome tips on how to tune in with Your Inner Voice? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear them.
Liked this article and You think a friend would benefit from it? Share it on FB, Twitter, G+. Thanks for your support, and for being around. I do appreciate it.
With all my love,
PS: Intuition is not a secret tool of women. Men have their own strong gut feeling also. We are all blessed with this wonderful inner compass, we just need to start using it.
PPS: You have an amazingly accurate Intuition and You are awesome!