A bright soul recently asked me about how to tell the difference between her inner voices when she’s asking for inner guidance⏤the ones that fight between THIS and THAT, YES and NO. She is not alone.
So if 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⏤then this is for you too.
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 student 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 work with them.
Here’s how to discern who’s talking and why.
Let’s imagine it like a party… a loft party with a spaceship-like elevator, a punchbowl of guacamole and rooftop hot tub. Why the eff not?
You enter the space and immediately you hear that voice. The loudmouth, 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. To 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. It gets our full attention even though it doesn’t feel great.
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⏤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.
Trust me, you want to get reeeeal familiar with these voices and how to decipher your own. Ultimately, when you do that you grow your capacity to let go of old, painful patterns while bringing more presence and compassion into your life.
>> If you want more support in discerning between your ego and intuition (and how to listen to your inner guidance way more) you can try out my free webinar/training on cultivating self-trust and making big life decisions, right here.