As adults, we do not often consider holistic approaches to life’s challenges. While attending church service as a young child, you may remember your parents commanding you to “be still and listen.” The same holds true as adults. We don’t stay still long enough to meditate and listen to our inner voice. Why is that? Are we even aware of what the unconscious mind is telling us? Sometimes that still small voice may be the Spirit of God, yourself, or what most would describe as a gut feeling. However, we often fail to take heed. Actually, there are physical, mental, and emotional benefits to listening to your inner voice. Let’s examine them.
When we slow down long enough to listen our inner self, our bodies relax, our minds become clearer, and we allow ourselves to feel. If we do this frequently enough, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms brought on by stress. One example is anxiety, that many are currently experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of internalizing what you’re feeling, take note of how it’s impacting your physical health. Be still and listen to what your body is telling you. What are your triggers? Does going out to the store make you feel tense, fearful, and anxious? Examine why that might be. Your inner voice is speaking to you continuously. What can you do to calm yourself down? At this point, you have to make some decisions. What precautionary measures can you take to maintain feelings of comfort and security. Anxiety impacts our state of mind in an unhealthy way if left unchecked. Active listening helps you control the outward manifestations of your internal thoughts. Dr. Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, reminds us, “Discomfort with a decision often manifests as physical symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, and agitation.” They serve as warning signals that something is wrong. If you are experiencing these symptoms, if possible, stay home and relax until you change your state of mind.
Being still and allowing ourselves to meditate on positive thoughts can often quiet that negative self-talk that creeps in from time to time. Nicole Bayes-Fleming, Senior Editor of Mindful, says, “Making a concentrated effort to listen to and reflect on words of encouragement can help sooth anxieties the next time self-doubt pops up.” Listening and meditating on words of praise has the ability to change our inner voice, but sometimes it needs help to get back to the forefront of our mind. For example, there are some who suffer from imposter syndrome. If you aren’t aware of what that is, it’s a little voice that says even though you have achieved great things, you’re still not good enough. These feelings of inadequacy play on one’s mental state. If left unattended, that voice may become too loud and ultimately believable. Perhaps you’ve been teleworking as a result of the pandemic and miss the social interaction with your co-workers. Out of the blue, you begin to feel like you don’t belong or become fearful. Or maybe over time you have suppressed or “trash mashed” negative self-talk that has decided to rear its ugly head during this season of being quarantined…especially if you live alone. These feelings negatively impact our self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. Don’t allow these feelings to take residency in your mind. Serve them notice and evict them immediately.
Our emotional health is often neglected. At times we allow them to govern us and that can be dangerous with lasting consequences. Listening to the voices of fear, dread, guilt, or anxiety can cause us to make irrational and costly decisions. The good news is we have the ability to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. Whatever you do, don’t ignore them as if they will mysteriously go away. That will always make things worse. However, by taking inventory of our emotions and accepting them can be far more beneficial for our mental well-being than we realize. Consider talking it out with a counselor or a trusted friend. Your emotions matter.
Finding Your Inner Voice
Locating your inner voice is easier than you think. But we must take the time to invest in self-care which includes carving out of our schedule dedicated quiet time to be able to hear what our inner voice is saying. Next, take note of the changes in your physical, mental, and emotional state. Think about what triggers your responses. Be mindful of your breathing. Only you know how you’re truly feeling. Be still. Your mind, body, and heart are speaking. The question is, “Are you listending?”
Alex Lickerman. “Listening to Your Inner Voice.” Psychology Today. 10 May 2010. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201005/listening-your-inner-voice
Nicole Bayes-Flemming. “How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome.” Mindful. 31 Aug 2018. https://www.mindful.org/how-to-overcome-impostor-syndrome/