Friday, March 26, 2010

Your Inner Voice -- a journalling exercise

Friday, March 26, 2010

I call this journalling exercise "Listening to your Inner Voice." That voice is sometimes called intuition or a gut feeling or gut instinct. Many, many of us have been taught to ignore that voice by being taught not to trust our own take on things, our own feelings and thoughts. "That's stupid; you can't do that." "Stop crying; there's nothing to be scared of." "Don't be silly; he's a nice man." "What a ridiculous idea."

We're taught to keep busy, not cry, ignore our own needs to help others, hide when we feel bad. We get sent to our rooms, hit, told to keep destructive secrets and silenced by others' silence. Many people aren't taught how to recognize and name feelings or how to listen to inner discomforts in uncomfortable situations. In many families, any response more subtle than a slap or screaming or crying is lost.

So although helping others and managing our emotions and keeping busy can all be positive actions, they can also get in the way of self-knowledge which, in turn, gets in the way of understanding others. When we don't understand ourselves and others, true compassion is difficult. We may be able to act like a nice person without actually feeling anything at all.

This journalling exercise can help you listen to your own inner voice, your gut. It can be a helpful tool for getting familiar with your true self. So grab a pen and notebook, or a computer, and get comfortable for a while. This exercise can be done in one sitting or in several shorter bouts. Remember that with journal writing, there is no wrong way to do it. Spelling, punctuation, handwriting and organization don't matter. Listening to yourself does.

Listening to your Inner Voice

Write about a time when you did or did not listen to a gut feeling about something or someone. Maybe you didn't make that phone call you thought of making, or you wrote to somebody and found out later how much it helped him. Maybe you heeded the tug prompting you to apply for a job, and as a result you met someone who became important to you, or you got the job.

Describe what was going on at the time:
  • What did the inner prompting, voice, urge feel and sound like inside you?
  • What did it suggest?
  • If you paid attention to it, did you act on the suggestion right away or later?
  • If you didn't heed it, how did you answer it -- by telling yourself it was dumb or pointless, by getting busy and forgetting about it, by consciously deciding not to listen?
  • What happened after you did or did not listen to that urge?
  • How did (and do) you feel about the outcome? Regret? Relief? Satisfaction? Irritation? etc......
Given that outcome, what might you do differently another time? Keep in mind that regrets can be useful if we decide to do something differently in the next situation. There's no need to hang on to regrets (in fact, doing so can be harmful), but by all means notice them and make a decision about what you'll do differently. Be grateful for the lesson and move on.

If you're happy with the outcome, dwell on the feelings and results. Decide to listen to yourself again another time. Be grateful for the lesson and move on.

In another recent blog post I wrote about intuition (click here to read it) and about the book Developing Intuition by Shakti Gawain. The post describes one fantastic way in which intuition, my inner voice, was on the right track. I find that the more I listen to my inside self, the more smoothly my life goes and the more serenity I experience. When I don't listen, things get choppy. It's a simple formula, yet I can complicate things and get in my own way, too!

In any case, know that learning to listen to one's intuition is a skill that can be learned (relearned, actually). I encourage you to listen to your inner voice. Learn to trust yourself; you're a great ally!


Anonymous said...

excellent topic kate! i feel i have always had very stong intuition. if i ingnore it things go wrong, if i follow my gut things go right. ive always been interested in developing this intuition more. thanks for the link to shakti. a :)

Kate Thompson said...

Thanks, Anonymous! And stay tuned for a post about another intuitive writer, coming in the next few days. Keep listening to yourself.

Anonymous said...

thanks, i'll check back!

alyne (i forgot my login password:)