How to Find YOUR Inner Voice and Quiet the Noise
“Somewhere in there, among the worries, questions, advice and advertising jingles, lives your intuition, your true ‘inner voice.’ You can hear it to the extent that you give it your attention.” ~ Martha Beck
There are times when I still hear my mother’s voice in my head. That’s not surprising since she’s been there my whole life. Sometimes I find her voice helpful; sometimes that voice is trying to keep me safe and not take risks. Over the years, the voices of authority — parents, teachers, mentors — became part of my inner voice, and they weren’t always speaking MY truth. This illustrates why it’s so important to know how to find YOUR inner voice and be able to quiet the noise from everyone else.
It’s when you’re practicing mindful self-awareness that you realize when your true inner voice speaks and when the voices of other people should be thanked and dismissed. Can you relate to these internal conversations?
“You’re a girl and can’t do that!” Thank you, I’ve grown up and I’m now a very capable woman who CAN do it.
“You don’t know enough!” Thank you, I realize I have much to learn still, but what I do know is certainly enough to get me started. I’m resourceful enough to learn or ask for help along the way.
“You don’t want to be in front of the camera. You’ll make a fool of yourself and everyone will SEE!” Thank you, but it’s important for me to get my message out. I want to be a strong role model to empower women and show them that they can do this too.
“You can do anything you put your mind to.” Thank you. I was feeling doubtful, but you’re right. I can do this!
How to find YOUR Inner Voice
Whose voices do you have talking to you in your head? Rather than instantly accepting or dismissing all the messages, I encourage you to become The Observer, identify where that thought comes from and curiously examine whether it supports you presently. They may have been helpful messages in the past, but not pertinent today. As you open yourself up to curiously observe the inner voice, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Is this thought one that I am proud to own?
Self-leadership is all about ownership and taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions. By acknowledging the voice, identifying its source, and determining its validity, you can either dismiss it or accept it as your truth. In this way, you control it. Of course, you will have thoughts and emotions you’re not proud of, but you can learn from them and intentionally choose how you will be in a similar situation in the future.
At first, examining your thoughts in such detail will feel awkward and take time. However, as you increase your mindfulness, you’ll create a mental file of thoughts you want to own. They’re easy to identify and they make you comfortable in your skin. If however, one of the thoughts you choose to own causes you discomfort, your body sensations are telling you that you need to investigate the matter further.
2. What is the source of this thought, this voice?
None of us are born with our thoughts. We accumulate them from outside sources and from internal reflection on new information and how it fits in with what we already know. As mentioned earlier, our parents and teachers have a very strong impact on our thoughts. Also, we’re bombarded by the media — we have more information, or misinformation, coming at us than ever before.
Never stop questioning. Consider the source. Is it trustworthy and based on fact and worth listening to? As someone once said, the six inches between your ears are the most valuable real-estate you will ever own. Evict the hurtful squatters who have been living there rent-free for years!
3. What narrative and action do I want to form, based on this inner voice?
As you selectively mold your inner voice, you get to choose your authentic narrative — how you speak your truth to self and others. This will allow you to speak positivity into your life and keep you inspired. Actions that support your new, best life will come more easily. Thoughts lead to action. Beneficial actions lead to more positive thinking. It’s a life cycle we benefit from being in harmony with. I love this reminder from Haruki Murakami:
“Being active every day makes it easier to hear that inner voice.”
When you encounter a setback, use these self-leadership strategies to filter out the noise and stay focused on what’s important to YOU. Learning how to find YOUR inner voice will take time, so be compassionate with yourself.
Discussions like this are what my colleague, Louise Santiago and I are having with a group of empowering women in The Great Circle Community. Why not join us! Get inspired and feed the leader within. There is no cost to participate and we hold it twice a month. I’ll look for you there!