Photo Credit: Jen Theodore, Unsplash.com

Written by Karen Baltimore
October 16, 2019

Inner voice (or intuition) is often described as a gut feeling or inner knowing. How often have you said, “If only I’d trusted my gut?” This is your intuition, a knowing feeling you can’t explain with analytical thought. We all have access to intuition. Like a muscle, it gets stronger the more we use it. This inner knowing gives us access to the vast knowledge of the Universe, but it’s up to us to connect. 

Developing trust in my inner voice wasn’t an easy process. My life began in a rural, no-nonsense town where everyone knew your business. Church attendance was expected and guidance came through the Bible and the Holy Spirit, both of which existed outside of us.

Coincidence was seen as just that—coincidence. Intuition wasn’t encouraged, much less mentioned. Any guidance needed beyond that was readily supplied by others in my life. I continued living this pattern for years. Even as a young adult, I didn’t trust myself to make decisions for my life.

The Power of Curiosity

Thankfully, I’ve always been curious, much to the chagrin of those who wished I’d simply do as I was told. College was an amazing place to grow, especially attending later in life. God and I had already gone a few rounds up to this point and I jumped at the opportunity to see how other religions viewed “Him.”

I remember the day my professor stated that all stories in the Bible were just stories and didn’t really happen. There was a distinct energy shift as the devout Christians in the room processed his words—much like hackles rising. I admit I bristled a bit, but my curiosity kept me open. Never before had I examined religion through an academic lens. The experience profoundly changed how I viewed my personal connection to a higher power and all that is. I began to open up to something bigger.

This unfolding led me deeper into spiritual study. Growing up, I was often called too sensitive or told to grow a thicker skin—one instance where I’m grateful I couldn’t change. My mode of operation was to shove down issues in an effort to keep the peace, burying my inner voice in the process.

After a few subtle (and not so subtle) nudges from my body, followed by several medical experiences that left me worse than before, my inner voice became insistent. As I listened, it responded. The more I paid attention, the more finely tuned I became. I began to see that my perceived weakness was actually my greatest gift.

Still, at times I doubted. I would be completely certain of my next steps but would hesitate when the time came to take action. I would doubt what I knew. I sought outside sources for proof that I was doing the right thing—angel cards, nature, signs from the Universe . . .

And then I would question, Why do I now doubt something I was certain of? Why am I so easily knocked off course?

Coaches, counselors, or spiritual guides are often sought for guidance in times of stress or tough decisions. An objective party can enable us to view situations from another perspective, but we must check in with our intuition as well. Seeking validation from other sources all while doubting our inner voice is another form of fear and may not lead to the best solution. 

Tools such as tarot cards, angel numbers, pendulums, etc. are just that—tools. They can’t substitute for your inner voice or its wisdom. Guidance may only come a step at a time. I liken it to an angel flying ahead of me holding a lantern, lighting each step as I need it. Sometimes we have to wait on guidance–not always easy in the instant gratification world in which we live—but don’t allow worry about future steps to make you doubt what you know to be true right now. 

It isn’t wrong to look for signs or reach out to others. When you trust your intuition and begin taking steps as guided, signs often show up—confirming you’re on the right path. The problem occurs when you receive inner guidance, but continually seek outside validation before moving forward, or worse . . . remain stuck. 

Learn to Listen

Your intuition may be questioned or doubted by those closest to you. It’s critical to develop a solid foundation of trust in your intuition, or this can knock you off track.

Just because someone you love doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Sometimes stepping into your power will trigger fear in those close to you. Their response—often unconscious—may be an effort to keep you from changing, because change can be scary. It doesn’t mean a relationship has to end, only that you may need an extra dose of compassion for those around you as you grow. Personal growth isn’t a defiant act. Sometimes we’ll have to lead and it’s always best to lead with love.

As I continue to grow and honor my sensitivity, I realize how much I know things, and how easily I sense the energy of people and places around me. It’s often said we teach that which we most need to learn. In writing this article, situations have unfolded in my life requiring the guidance of my inner voice. This voice has become my closest friend and ally. It gives me access to knowledge, wisdom, and compassion that lie beyond my own finite abilities.

Here are a few practices that help me tune in:

1. Morning Pages

Julia Cameron introduced morning pages in her book, The Artist’s Way. This tool can benefit anyone as we are all creative beings. Morning pages are three pages of long-hand, stream of consciousness writing, ideally done in solitude before the rest of the world wakes. (And yes, making coffee first is allowed.)

The pages are essentially a brain dump. Write whatever comes up, even if it’s how tired you are. As you write, mental clutter that runs on repeat in your brain is emptied, allowing your inner voice to speak. When I write, the first two pages are often a litany of to-dos, complaints, or worries, but the third page is magic. Many of my best ideas come directly from these pages.

I use inexpensive spiral notebooks to eliminate any stress to create “real” writing. I capture ideas and insights in my journal and shred the rest. Knowing the pages will be destroyed gives me courage to let everything out without fear of someone reading and judging my private thoughts. 

2. Listen to your body

When you wake up to the guidance of your body, you discover it’s a compass always pointing to your true north. When you seek guidance, pay attention. Does your gut tighten or are you relaxed? What about your chest? Do you feel light or heavy? Your body holds an innate wisdom that can’t be found anywhere else.

Ask what your body needs. Naps are fantastic for insights. When you’re struggling with an issue, step away a few minutes if possible. A 10-minute power nap works wonders for gaining clarity. When we’re tired, we tend to focus on the fatigue. The answer may be right in front of us, but we can’t see it. Take a break and return with fresh eyes. You may discover solutions you missed.

Meditation’s wonderful for tapping in, but difficult for some. I was unable to sit still and meditate early on. Tai chi is a great alternative. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi helps with breathing, balance, and overall health, and can be adapted to fit any physical ability. 

3. Nature

Being grounded isn’t just a figure of speech. The element of nature is healing on many levels and is relatively easy to add to your life. Walking, running or biking your local greenway or trail takes you out of your work space and encourages you to breathe deeper. We often go through our days holding our breath without realizing it. Your breath is the easiest way to access your inner voice and is available to you at all times. 

Pack your lunch and enjoy it on a bench at your local park or sit in your car with the windows down at a nature preserve. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe. If you’re on a tight deadline and the best you can do is a quick walk around the building, that’s okay. Often, a change in environment shifts our perspective enough to enable us to tune in.

As with any relationship, the one you develop with your inner voice requires attention and quality time. If you doubt your intuition, start small and build a foundation of trust gradually. Trust yourself and have the courage to take action on what you know to be your best next steps. As always—baby steps count. 

Photo Credit: Jen Theodore, Unsplash.com