The Importance of Listening to your Inner Voice
Have you ever reflected on how important the tone of your inner voice and world is, how your gut feeling can help you make successful choices and how your negative thoughts can weaken you and make you go in the completely wrong direction? You can eat all the kale in the world, exercise several times every week and sleep like a queen, but you won’t be healthy if your mind isn’t feeling well. A healthy mind is crucial for wellbeing, but is quite often forgotten when we talk about wellness. However, the conversation about mental health has started to become more accepted during the past few years, and it has finally become a subject we talk more about. Our mind is complex and there is a lot to talk about. One thing that really fascinates me is the voices we constantly hear inside of our heads all day long. No, I am not a crazy person, I mean the voices we all have, our thoughts and our inner voice, or gut feeling. The voices that either lift us up or push us down. The voices that eventually make up our perception of the outer world and our own reality.
Our mind is a very fascinating thing. It regulates so much of our different experiences in life; how we perceive them and how we react to different things. Hence, you can almost say that the world actually goes on inside our minds, and not really outside, when you think about it. Even things that don’t happen in the outer world might happen in your inner world, your mind. We can day dream and think of nice things we wish for to happen, but we also quite often worry and think of worst-case-scenarios that could happen. We constantly process different impressions that we get from the people and situations around us, and even when the outer world is completely still and silent, we still so very often experience a torrent of thoughts swirling around in our heads. Does it sound familiar? We all have very busy minds and our thoughts can be very hard to regulate. When it comes to your inner voice, are you controlling it, or is it controlling you? Many of us are slaves under our thoughts and we often have quite a toxic relationship to our mind. It tells us mean and negative things way too often, which can affect both our inside and our outside world a lot.
You have probably heard that sometimes we can’t do anything about things that happen to us, but we can always choose how to react to what happens. That might sound a bit cliché but it is so true. Buddha also means that “Our life is the creation of our mind”, and I honestly think he is so right. We decide how we perceive the outer world. Our minds decide whether we want to see a challenge as something negative or positive, if a setback can help us to be more creative, if that annoying person can teach us something, etc. Our mindset can completely change how we look at our life.
So, in order for us to get a healthier mind and inside world, we need to work on controlling our thoughts and being able to shut down that negative voice. We need to stop listening to everything that it says and understand that not everything it tells us is true, although that might sound quite odd since it is “our” voice. But is it really “our voice”? I don’t believe that. The voice we have in our heads talking to us all day long and feeding us with random thoughts, too often telling us negative things and making up catastrophic scenarios that highly likely are not about to happen at all, is our fear talking.
The “real” voice that is ours is our gut feeling, that inner voice we have that makes us feel when things are right or wrong, that we have to guide us through life. That kind of voice is kind and intelligent, and always helps us navigate through different decisions we come across. This voice and feeling is incredibly important to listen to since it is always right. Even when you doubt it, it always turns out to be right. However, it can sometimes be hard to hear this voice because of all the other thoughts in our heads, fighting for our attention too. Hence, how I look at these different voices in our mind is that our true inner voice and gut feeling is always right, something we can’t control, and something that is connected to our heart and love. Whereas our thoughts quite often are wrong, something we actually can control (although it is hard), and something that is connected to our ego and fear. In addition, in order to distinguish our inner voice from fear-based thoughts, remember that the inner voice and gut feeling is what you can feel or hear inside you immediately when you think of something. Pay attention to that first answer that comes to your mind when you are making a decision, since that is usually our inner voice talking before our mind has had time to process it.
A question I have asked myself many times is why I allow myself to think so negatively sometimes. Why do I way too often make up dramatic and catastrophic scenarios that probably won’t even occur in my life? Why does it seem so easy to think negatively, much easier than feed our mind with positive thoughts? It is almost as if we seem to be programmed to think negative thoughts as a default sometimes, and that we really have to try to think positively. Well, science means that since it was so important for our ancestors to focus on threats and bad things that could happen to us, that is a reason why we seem to focus on the bad a lot more than the good.
Hence, it is simply a survival instinct, but one that might not be as efficient today as it was a few thousand years ago. And today’s stressed world doesn’t make it easier to avoid it, so I personally see it as something we really have to work on a lot. Our mind is like a muscle we need to train in order for it to do what we want it to do.
HOW TO CONTROL YOUR INNER VOICE
How do we stop that negative inner voice tell us we can’t do certain things, we aren’t worthy of this and aren’t going to achieve that? I believe that the first step is to simply be aware of the voice. Listen to it and notice that it is there. Then it is time to examine it. Does it sound realistic? True? Fair? As soon as you start to listen to it more often and pay attention to what it really says, you will notice how often it is insane. How often it is so dramatic, extremely pessimistic and how it is actually lying as well. Also, start to think of this voice as if it was another person telling you this, a friend of yours. Do you want to continue to be friends with this person after everything it tells you? Probably not. When you have realized this, you have also understood that you are not controlling your own mind (which sounds crazy, right?). We should of course be in control of our minds, but if you think about it, we rarely are. Therefore, we need to be aware of that fact first, so we then can start to replace those negative thoughts with positive.
When a negative thought enters our minds, there are several things we could do. What we automatically are inclined to do is give it all the space and attention we have in our heads, and just let it spin off and create more and more drama. But instead of letting that happen, just acknowledge it and really try to let it go as fast as it arrived. This is definitely easier said than done, but there are a few ways that can help to make this easier, one to clear your head. Go for a walk, work out, breathe deep breaths or write down your thoughts on a piece of paper in order for it to easier leave your mind. Another thing is also to try to actively immediately replace it with something positive. For every negative thought, find a counter argument or a positive thing about the situation and see if that can help the negative thought vanish, or at least fade a little. What also helps a lot, but can be demanding too, is meditation. Practicing meditation does wonders to a busy mind, and really helps is take better control over our thoughts. It creates space in our head and helps us to take a step back and look at what is going on inside of us from another perspective.
So, in order to take control of our own minds, we need to pay attention to our thoughts and not believe everything they tell us. Be aware of your ego, stress and your fear, which often are the reasons why we have negative thoughts about ourselves and self-sabotage. Try to let your thoughts just go sometimes, and practice that through meditation. Meditation or any kind of activity where you just stop thinking for a while and give your mind some rest is so amazing for us. It often feels very refreshing and rejuvenating afterwards, and is very needed in order for us to stay focused and well. It also helps the kind and guiding voice inside of us, our gut feeling, to be heard. A healthy and happy mind will help us to better take care of ourselves and make it easier for us to focus on self-care and other essential things that make us happy and inspired, such as relationships and passions.
However, working on our mind is a constant and never-ending task that requires time and effort. Being the master of your own mind takes time and a lot of practice. It is much harder than we think, but I think it is so fascinating to see what we are capable of because of a certain mindset, and I have experienced a lot myself what both an unhealthy and a healthy mind can do to our overall well-being. And last but not least, how our loving and wise inner voice is like that amazing friend that always wants the best for us.