Do you ever find yourself feeling stuck/confused/deflated because of frustrating, feuding inner voices? The ones that just can’t seem to shut up or agree? On anything?
Whether it’s as benign as taking a new route home from work, or more serious like asking for a raise or wanting to express a need to a loved one, the battle of the voices can be stifling.
Which inner voice are you supposed to listen to? Which one is the “right” one?
The one that says, “I should stand up for myself and ask for what I need!”
OR the one that says,
“If I do, I’ll probably be hurt. I mean that’s probably right, I’ll get hurt, it’s totally happened before. Right. I’ll just hang back. Hey, maybe I won’t have to stand up for myself! Maybe that other person will just see what I need and give it to me! Yeahhhh, I’ll just wait here for that to happen. Or I’ll at least wait for a better time. My timing is just totally wrong here…”
Sound familiar at all?
Whenever I talk to a client about getting in touch with their inner guidance, I always get some version of the story of their battling inner voices. I have them too! But I’ve learned how to decipher the voices and what to do with them.
Here’s how to discern who’s talking and why.
Let’s imagine it like a party…that loft party on Stanton St. in the Lower Eastside with the spaceship-like elevator, punchbowl of guacamole and rooftop hot tub…yeeeah.
Anyways, [eyerolling myself], you enter the space and immediately you here that voice.
The loud mouth, the one who always gets to the party first, stays the longest, is the loudest, and makes you feel sort of ick. You feel a tightening in your body. A constriction. The voice is a blow-hard, know-it-all type. Tom me, this particular inner voice can feel very mansplain-y.
This voice, this is the ego.
It’s hard to ignore. It takes up all the space. Oh, and we’ve all been socially programmed to listen to this voice first.
And then you notice that there’s this great music on in the background. Your body instinctively wants to move to it. When you hear it, it feels expansive, light, invigorating.
This my friend, this is your inner guide. And anytime you’re trying to make a decision or take an action, these voices play a role.*
You’ll get the ego telling you about what didn’t work in the past, so don’t try that again. Or some other seemingly logical, unconscious reasoning that leads to limited thought and action. You’ll perhaps sense the inner expansive nature of the inner voice, but it will be more subtle.
I’m not gonna lie, it takes time, intention and attention to cultivate a conscious relationship with your ego and your inner guide.
By recognizing and bringing awareness to the ego, you’re letting some freedom in. You’re deflating it. The moment you recognize the ego in action you become conscious and present. Winning!
With awareness, the ego actually ceases being the ego (which lives solely in the realm of the unconscious) and instead reveals to you an old pattern/wound/urge/behavior.
This is great news! Because once you see the old thing, you can tend to it.
Notice the urge that arises and see if you can let go of it. Release the death grip, the feeling of being possessed by the urge/wound.
Also notice the urge to beat yourself up about having the old urge/pattern arise. THIS is the ego taking you right back to the unconscious!
Instead wave at it, say to yourself, “Oh, ha, I see you. I know you. We’re doing this dance again. That’s funny.” Laugh at it. Laughing will free you.
Thich Nhat Hanh** calls this moving the seed from the basement (unconscious) to the living room (conscious). The pattern is not going to disappear completely, but you can notice it and bring some self compassion in. Compassion is the realm of the inner guide. This is the healing path.
If you keep recognizing, laughing and gently disengaging with the pattern, you’ll create space for awareness, clarity***, and presence.Then you can tune into that background music. Listen for that inner guide. The voice/thought that feels expansive, magnetic.
By navigating these inner voices you’ll become more and more present. More attuned to your inner guide. More able to release your grip on old wounds.
Let me know what you think below in the comments, or how this process works for you as you engage it.
Give it a whirl! Shoot, what do you have to lose besides attachment to old, painful patterns? I mean really.
* There are other inner “voices” that you’ engage with on a regular basis. Archetypes are a fascinating inner exploration! For now, this distinction of ego and inner guide will be immensely helpful.
** Highly recommend his book, “Reconciliation” on healing the inner child. Get ready to have your mind blown.
*** Last week was all about clarity and creating the conditions for it. If you watched my fb live or read my post on it, you know that mindfulness/slowing down is key. Here’s a perfect example! Slowing down enough to recognize the thought pattern in order to change it. CLARITY, I tell you what.
Art by Henry Moore