Like any young person, I wanted to grow up to be a contributing member of society. Unfortunately, I thought of myself as a book with empty pages. Until the pages were filled I had nothing to offer the world. Anything that was valuable in me was to come from without.
Every decision was run past someone because I didn’t know the value of my own inner guiding voice. If they were older, smarter, or wiser I listened to them without hesitation and distrusted my inner voice if it disagreed with them.
Every time I rejected my inner voice I was getting further away from what was right for me. It took a complete breakdown in the form of depression to realise the life I was living didn’t suit me.
Even though being depressed was horrible it did made me reevaluate my life and for that I am grateful. After being depressed I could observe my life in its entirety and saw where it was going whereas before I had tunnel vision- I was too focused on trying to please others.
If I continued on the same path I was either going to become an economist or study further so I could be a lawyer. These were good professions to have, but they didn’t mean anything to me. As much as I tried to make it mine I couldn’t. I had tried throughout my bachelor’s degree to become interested in the topics I was studying by force but it didn’t work. I just didn’t have any natural interest in it.
After grappling with depression and coming out on the other end wanting to live, I wanted to find out if I could live a meaningful and interesting life. I told myself if I couldn’t find what I was looking for I could easily go back to my old life and I would have at least tried.
My job now was to find something that made my eyes sparkle. I was now on the lookout for answers and it took one a simple conversation to reignite my inner voice. The conversation that started a revolution from within was a very benign topic about dream homes. My dream home would be a small one. It would have a separate kitchen, two bedrooms, and be near the city so I could live without a car. Overall, I preferred a small apartment in the city than a larger house in the suburbs. Before I could say anymore, my dream home was criticized for being too small and unrealistic.
According to my family, the appropriate dream home for me was a two storey house in the suburbs with at least three bedrooms. I intercepted with a question, why three bedrooms? The extra bedroom was for guests when they stay over, I was told. Also, two cars were needed for the commute from work and home. But wait, there was more that I didn’t calculate into my dream house.
I had forgotten to think about my dream house as an investment piece. A house was a commodity with expected profits that could be extracted from future buyers. I had to consider the future buyers preferences and alter my dream home to suit other people’s tastes.
When the conversation ended I was sitting there trying to make myself want a larger home. I thought, maybe I am just not ambitious enough to want a bigger home. This person seemed to know what was what. Except, I couldn’t force myself to aspire for an alternative dream home. My inner voice wasn’t budging and this time I was going to support it, instead of pushing it down.
A dream home is something to dream and aspire to but here I was, letting someone alter my dream home. Then it hit me, I have been doing the same thing all my life with everything. I let people alter my wants, needs, and dreams because I didn’t think I knew what was right for me. I was going to end up living a in the suburbs with two cars if I didn’t stop this.
This was within my control all I had to do was to start listening to myself. There was obviously something within me that knew what was right for me. From then on I listened to what I wanted to do. I travelled, I volunteered, and I started writing. Then, I moved out, and I didn’t apply to law school.
Not applying to law school felt amazing. I had been working towards it for over five years and I always had an uneasy feeling whenever I thought of myself as a lawyer. When that went away and I felt invigorated. After that, soon enough I found something that made me excited. Friends have told me that whenever I talk about it my eyes sparkle. I think I have finally arrived at the place I have been looking for. I have discovered life to be so much sweeter with a meaning and a purpose.
Your inner voice/intuition/gut feeling is always there with you. If you feel lost and listless, and want to figure out what makes you feel alive you need give yourself the time to dig out your inner voice and then strengthen it by building trust it.
Your inner voice just says, this is the right thing to do because it feels right, and offers no explanation for its decision. The other voices, the neurotic ones, the loud ones, or the ones with meticulous reasoning, are not what we are looking for. At least that’s what it is like for me. Yours could be different. It is up to you to find out which one is your true guiding voice.
Once you get in touch with that intuitive voice, the next step is to build trust to get the most out of it. It’s just like being in a relationship. Just as you won’t be in relationship with someone untrustworthy, to have a healthy and successful relationship with yourself you need to able trust your own thoughts and beliefs.
The relationship that you have with yourself is the longest and most intimate relationship that you’ll ever have because only you have complete access to all your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. If you don’t trust yourself it’s not going to be a good relationship and if you don’t trust your hunches, you won’t be able to take the necessary actions that lead you in the right direction. So build trust by taking small steps in doing what feels right for you and saying no to things that feels wrong. It might sound simple but let me tell you it’s not going to be easy.
When learning to listen to your intuitive voice you’ll want to resist it because it feels scary and risky. You haven’t followed it’s advice before, so you don’t know how it will turn out. To get over this inner roadblock you need to start small.
Start by giving yourself time and space to notice how you feel. Schedule in free time just to be yourself to find out what thoughts are going through your mind without other distractions.
Then think about the different aspects of your life, the things you do and the people you spend time with. See if the things you do makes your eyes sparkle. Ask a few questions. Does it serve a greater purpose? Do the people you associate with make you happy? Does the stuff you have add value to your life? The purpose of this is to get acquainted with what feels right and what feels wrong in order to choose and do more things that make you feel alive and give your life meaning and away from people and activities that drain you.
If you are worried about failing, don’t worry too much. Think about what’s the worse that can happen and what’s the best that can happen. What happens in real life, outside of our scared thoughts, is usually neither the best scenario nor the worst scenario, but somewhere in the middle. So take solace in knowing whatever happens is unlikely to be terrible and go with your gut. As scary as it is at the start following your guiding voice is worth it.
Listening to myself has not led me astray. Somehow our inner voice knows what’s right for us before we could figure out why. I urge you to pay attention to that little voice. You’ll be surprised as you get acquainted with your inner skills and unknown talents.
So, tell me, what has your inner voice been telling you all your life? I think it’s time to pay attention to it.