Why your ‘inner voice’ can be such a powerful force in your search for success in life
We all have it … and it yells at us every day although no-one else can hear what it’s saying.
In this blog we are talking about your inner voice – also known as your intuition or gut instinct. Call it what you will, but listen to it.
It’s your inner sense urging you to do something – or perhaps even urging you to hold back from doing something – but how often do we ignore it, letting our logical thought processes take over instead to make that decision?
Yet how often has your inner voice been right even though at the time it surfaced in your consciousness you had no real reason to think that was the case?
One of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time was always insistent that you listen to your inner voice above your own thought processes and the arguments of others. The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most importantly, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
To help you understand what this is all about let me give you the example of a man preparing for a triathlon who woke up one weekend knowing he needed to train but had a bad feeling about it. There was no logical reason why he shouldn’t go out for a long cycle ride, just something within him warning him against it.
He ignored his gut instinct, went out on his bike and within a couple of hours was lying in the middle of the road with a badly broken leg.
So what is this inner voice when it comes to making quick decisions in life? Well, the dictionary defines it as “the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning.”
Some would dismiss it as no more than a hunch. But how many times have you had a hunch that’s been right? I’ll bet it’s way more times than it was wrong.
Here’s a fact that will surprise you – 95% of our brain activity happens at an unconscious level? Studies indicate that a mere 5% of our cognitive activity – including decisions, emotions, actions and behaviour – comes from our conscious mind.
So your inner voice is shouting out from somewhere among that other 95% and from a thought process that’s not being consciously processed. It may be it conflicts with your rational voice – the one that’s weighing up the pros and cons of doing something. The inner voice tends to say “just do it.”
How does your inner voice shout out to you? Be aware that it’s not always a voice in your head. It may simply be a feeling that’s had an impact on your body ranging from a sensation – a shiver when, on the face of it, there’s no need to shiver – through to an emotion. Your gut feeling will emanate from your central nervous system. If you have a crush on someone it hits you in the pit of your stomach. If you know you’ve made a serious error – such as pulling out of a junction and causing a car crash – and knowing you’ll have to face the consequences it’s more than likely you’ll get a sickly feeling in your stomach first before your rational mind takes over, trying to quickly work out what to do next to sort the problem out.
There is a battle going on inside everyone – instinct versus logic – and the more you think about it and analyse it the stronger the chance of logic winning the day.
Your instinct may tell you to apply for a new job but then logic takes over and could come up with a whole host of reasons why not to – it’s a longer commute, the hours may not suit your family lifestyle, the extra money’s probably not worth it. So you don’t bother applying.
Yet if you had followed your instinct and applied you may have discovered the employer is ultra flexible, your pay banding will rapidly increase once you’ve been through your probationary period and you can work two days a week from home.
Making time to listen
So how can you listen to your inner voice and give time to listen to what it’s saying before your rational self takes over and crushes it?
Give it a chance at least to communicate with you and that’s by trying to a find a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of normal daily life. Easier said than done but there will be that opportunity if you look hard enough. Get up a few minutes earlier when everyone else is asleep, perhaps go for a walk and, if you can get the house at a really quiet time, meditate.
You’ll find there is a time when you’re more in tune with your inner voice. For some people it could be in the shower, the bath or on the toilet. It’s a time when your mind momentarily stops thinking or racing and then that unconscious part gets its chance.
Life’s full of tricky decisions. Say you’re buying a house and you decide to go for it despite having reservations. If you’ve made the right choice those reservations will be overcome, fade away or become less important. But if your inner self still has deep reservations you’ll feel uneasy about the whole move and start to resist it.
There are very few certainties in life. Your inner voice may not always be right but, on the balance of probabilities, it probably is because it’s your whole being that’s trying to tell you something rather than just one part of it … your brain.
If you walk around talking to yourself isn’t that simply your inner voice finding its way out and expressing itself? It can be a powerful tool to psyche you up. How many times have you seen professional sports stars yell ‘come on’ with their fist punching the air. They’re talking to themselves, not the crowd, reinforcing their self-motivation which has got them this far in their highly competitive lives. If you’re going into an exam or for an interview how many people talk to themselves, perhaps saying they know they are the right person for the job, now go in there and prove it. Psychotherapists sometimes try to teach people how to use their inner voice to overcome their fears.
Psychotherapists will also tell you there us a powerful link between negative self-talk and depression with people who ‘talk themselves down’ suffering more stress and poorer health, both physically and mentally. The way to control these thoughts is to stop and evaluate them. So if you fear you can’t do something then think back to similar situations where you have overcome such doubts and ultimately succeeded. It will replace that ‘can’t do’ mentality with a ‘can do’ one. If you do something and it’s ultimately unsuccessful use your inner voice to evaluate why so you learn an important lesson for next time. See it as a first attempt in the learning process and focus your thoughts on how you can improve in the future.
In these ways your inner voice can boost your positive mindset, enhancing your mental health. If you can feel it making a difference in your outlook on life just think how powerful it can be in helping to defeat your negative thoughts.
Take some more time
If you need to make a decision and something is gnawing at you inside and making you feel uncomfortable then just put the decision on pause and say you’ll get back to the person. Very few decisions in life really need to be snap ones. Take time to explore the reasons to work out exactly what it was that made you feel uncomfortable and why. Your body may be telling you intuitively that something is wrong by perhaps feeling sick, anxious or being unable to sleep. The better you get at recognising these kind of reactions and why they are happening will lead you to think that your instincts can be trusted. The more you validate your instincts and show them to be correct, the more you’ll both trust and listen to them and the better you’ll feel within yourself.
In conclusion, you have a strong ally within yourself … and that’s your inner voice so make sure you use it to your advantage and this blog has shown how you can do that. It can enhance your performance and keep your mental attitude in tune with your body.
It will help you to reflect within yourself which may well lead to positive changes and can boost your self-motivation to help you achieve your targets and ambitions.
In short, when your inner voice speaks to you make sure you listen.
Thank you for reading, do get in touch would love to support you in your quest.