Work meetings. Colleagues chatting. Social media scrolling. News on TV. Radio on. Phone calls to family. Texting with friends. Sounds like a considerable flow of information going around, right? During this time, our brains constantly receiving input. All the noise of the world coming to us at once. Every single day.
One could say: Exhausting! It is indeed. Though we keep exposing ourselves every day to the same scenario. And why is that? Do we enjoy being overloaded with data and spending half of our time and energy deciphering it, even without being consciously aware? Do we think that processing this amount of information makes us wiser and gives us a competitive advantage?
I believe it is way simpler than any of the reasons above. Being exposed to the world’s noise has become the norm. Almost as a pre-requisite to live in the modern days. We accept it, we welcome this continuous loudness into our lives. We get used – or so we believe – to think beyond the noise, to make decisions despite all the clatter.
At the same time, we become less and less available to listen to our inner voice. Before we notice it becomes a distant and indistinguishable sound. Bit by bit, day by day, we lose connection to our inner voice. Slowly we have replaced it for the surrounding noise, no longer being able to listen to the melody from within, let alone to listen to the silence.
What are the consequences? – you may be wondering. Picture being trapped in a room where the only thing you hear is a persistent and annoying sound, like a million raindrops hitting the roof or a metallic ball rolling down a pipe, while you try to listen to what the other person sitting next to you is saying. You really need to hear those words; they are of utmost importance for what you must do next. You are just not able to. So, you force yourself to understand the more you can above the noise and interpret it as you see fit to use it for further decision-making.
Give or take, this is how most of us go about our lives. Making decisions and taking action based on misled perceptions and rushed interpretations. Including decisions that influence your future and the outcome of your goals and dreams.
Below are described 6 ways to guide you back to your inner voice, to help you tune in into that wisdom from within.
1. Create space in your daily life: A busy schedule is not the same as a productive one. Regardless of your tasks and responsibilities, make sure you set aside time for yourself as well as for other things than work. When you are doing something that you enjoy or find relaxing, it is the right time to silence the surrounding noise and listen to your inner voice. Look closely at your agenda and schedule daily time slots to be with yourself, whatever that means to you. It might be through your morning or evening routines while you exercise, read, write, run, take a shower. Or throughout the day going for a walk outside, taking a power nap, grabbing lunch with a friend or a colleague. Vital is that you make the time and honor it with your presence.
2. Put boundaries in place: You remember us talking about boundaries, right? Everyone has their limits and for a good reason. They do not make you less friendly or genuine, rather protect you by ensuring your wellbeing. Knowing and making your boundaries known is a sign of mental and emotional health. You need time to process thoughts, emotions, to deal with inner conflicts and manage challenging situations. When you have clear boundaries in place, it becomes much easier to retreat to your safe harbor whenever you need peace and quiet. You surely benefit from it and others will too. It can be any kind of boundaries from physical or emotional distance to time and priorities.
3. Practice active listening: It means you are listening in an engaged and positive way letting go of any judgement or advice. This is valid both for listening to yourself and to others. Again, amid all the knowledge-sharing and information flow, we have forgotten how to connect to ourselves and to others from a deeper and more authentic place – the one that only our inner world can provide. By quieting the surrounding noise, you get to tune in into your own thoughts and emotions developing more self-awareness. Not only you get to know better your triggers, your strengths, your values; this knowledge of yourself empowers you to be accountable and make more informed decisions. Go ahead and build these moments into your day and week to practice actively listening to yourself.
4. Play curious with your emotions: Curiosity is a powerful trait. We are so good at playing curious when we are kids. One of those things we probably take for granted and only notice we lost it if someone points it out. Another positive aspect of childhood is that we get to feel a range of emotions in a short window of time. As kids we go from being happy to be angry to be again joyful in a split second. I am not encouraging you in expressing everything you are feeling all the time and regardless of the context. Nonetheless, paying attention to what you are feeling, tuning in into your emotions gives you invaluable information. Instead of shoving down your feelings as you may think they inconvenience someone (including yourself!), switch on your curiosity and explore. You are giving yourself a great opportunity to connect with your inner voice.
5. Look for patterns: We are animals of habit, even when our habits are not the most healthy and efficient ones. In other words, there are recurrent behaviors and attitudes which we typically express in certain situations. We mentioned triggers before, since they are present in specific moments of our lives. They trigger us to react in certain ways, including when we choose to listen or ignore our inner voice. Though you might have lost touch with your inner tune, it does not mean it has disappeared. Focus on a period during which you felt more connected to your intuition or a time frame where making decisions came naturally to you, especially when made from a non-rational space. These moments provide clues to patterns that once identified can guide you toward your inner voice.
6. Talk to your inner voice: Talking never hurts. Especially with yourself. It may sound silly but think about those times where you practiced in front of the mirror before a big presentation or to work up the nerve to ask someone you liked out. Your inner voice is there, right inside of you. Ready to reply at the minimum contact. So, do not waste time looking for it elsewhere. Start by being honest, talking directly to yourself. It can be by looking at the mirror or closing your eyes in some sort of meditative state. Perhaps you feel comfortable talking aloud, maybe it is an inner dialogue or even in writing. After deciding what fits best, start by asking simple questions. Explore and try to know how this inner voice sounds like, what is trying to tell you, how is the best way to listen to it the next time.
The world can be a noisy place and you can easily move to its rhythm, even when it does not fit yours. Suddenly you listen only to what is audible at that moment and miss out on what could have been much more valuable to you. (Re)learning how to turn off the outside volume and tune in into your inner voice can be just want you need to feel confident and empowered toward the next chapter of your life.