Following Your Inner Voice in Uncertain Times

following your inner voiceIt’s been 10 years since I wrote the book “I Know I’m in There Somewhere”. Recently I was thinking about how things have changed since them.

Sad to say, for the most part, people’s lives and futures feel more uncertain than they did 10 years ago. While there’s been progress in some areas, and a few reasons to feel hopeful, on a personal level, many people have experienced difficult and painful reversals. Our sense of control over our lives has been shaken, and our confidence that our lives will get better, or at least turn out okay, is not what it used to be. Even if we ourselves have not been affected, the misfortunes of friends and family affect us all.

Going for what’s truly important

It’s at times like these, when we’re most likely to forget our inner voice, that we need it the most. Insecurity can make us fearfully contract and hold on to the old. But a truer, less frightened voice inside us tells us that we’re going to be okay if we’re willing to open our eyes, look around and try something new. The gift of uncertain times can be that the old ways maybe weren’t so healthy or good for us, but they weren’t easy to give up as long as they gave us a secure lifestyle.

Now that things are not so secure, we can look inside and ask, “What do I really want to change? What’s truly important to me? What do I need in my life that I’ve never taken the time to go after?”

Blaming others, blaming yourself

But before you do that, let me say that the very first step to following your inner voice is always – ALWAYS – self-acceptance, not harder pressure to make yourself change. When times get harder, more insecure, more uncertain, it’s common for people to become harsher and angrier, to blame “weak” people for the problems. Deep down the person they’re most critical of, indeed the person they blame the most, is themselves, for causing what’s happened in their lives and for not being able to rise above it or make it better. But as I’ve said before, the boot-camp approach to yourself just doesn’t work. Letting go of the self- judgment and harsh demands allows for the inner truths to emerge and begin to perform their magic.

Ten Minutes of Total Self-Acceptance

So here’s my suggestion: For the next ten minutes, or some ten-minute period today, sense how you feel inside and take stock of where you are, and let yourself be. Completely. For this time period, let yourself be totally okay with the way you are. If you need to, remind yourself that you’re only doing this for ten minutes – you can go back to your “normal” way of thinking very soon! Notice what it feels like to drop all judgment of yourself. Notice if new feelings, thoughts or sensations emerge when you let go of the pressure. Whatever those new feelings are, greet them in a kind and interested way. Listen to what your heart says when it stops fearing that it will be judged.

This process doesn’t take long and it can’t get you in any trouble – it’s not even fattening! But the more stressed, harried, worried and self-critical you are, the more I recommend that you make a point of taking a few minutes every day to sit quietly and be okay with yourself just as you are, and give yourself that caring presence. Doing this can vastly improve how you feel on a day-to-day level, and help you find the next best step in your journey ahead.

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