We all have multiple voices inside of us, vying for our attention. The trick is to know which ones to listen to. And the most helpful one is always going to be your true inner voice—the voice that stands up for you and is best aligned with your goals and dreams. It’s this voice that reflects the true “you,” and because of that, it’s the one voice that should always be trusted.
The meeting in your mind
I like to think of my mind as a boardroom with an ongoing meeting that directs my thoughts. The big emotions are there to speak up (joy, sadness, fear…think Inside Out), but there are also more nuanced voices, like shame, excitement, discouragement, hopelessness, pride, anxiety, and so on.
Some of these voices are stronger than others, probably because they’ve had more practice speaking out, or because I’ve encouraged them by acting on the ideas they give me. But that leads me to ask myself: where is the “me” voice in this meeting? Where is my inner voice?
Is it the strong, assertive leader, keeping all the other thoughts in line? Is it the quiet person sitting in the corner who never speaks up? Or is it the person who tries to be heard, but whose ideas continually get shot down?
As much as I’d like to say that my inner voice is the one running the show, it’s not always the case. Too often, I second-guess, contradict, or just flat out ignore that voice in favor of another one.
But as creatives, it’s imperative that we each learn how to not only recognize our inner voice, but to trust it to take us where we really need to go.
Trust your inner voice
What does it mean to trust your inner voice? Some people might call it “trusting your intuition,” “going with your gut,” or “following your heart.” Sometimes, your inner voice might tell you what you want; other times, it tells you what you need. Sometimes, it will encourage you to reach out and help others; other times, it reminds you that you need to take care of yourself.
Your inner voice speaks truth for your benefit. It has no hidden agenda or underlying selfish motives. All it wants, all the time, is what’s best for you.
The more you give it power—by trusting it and listening to it—the more it will help you, guide you, and positively influence your creative efforts.
These tips can help as you learn to trust your inner voice.
Know what it feels like
If you’re going to be able to trust your inner voice, you have to know what it feels like when that voice is speaking up. Just like you might feel fear as a tightening in your stomach, or joy as a sense of lightness, your inner voice will leave you feeling a certain way.
Try to identify what it feels like when your inner voice is speaking to you. Write down any physical sensations or emotional reactions you have to that voice. In other words: how do your body and mind react to the truth your inner voice speaks?
The answer to this question will be different for everyone, but common answers I see are:
- Sense of peace
- Mental clarity
- Muscles relaxing
- Positive energy
Once you know what your inner voice feels like, you can be more deliberate about listening to it.
It can also be helpful to track when, where, and under what circumstances your inner voice shows up (and when it doesn’t). For example, maybe your inner voice is especially loud when you’re around people that support you, but it’s hard for it to assert itself when you’re around a particular coworker. Maybe it’s easier for you to hear your inner voice early in the morning than it is to hear it late at night.
Once you start to detect patterns of when your inner voice shows up (and when you’re open to receiving it), you can start to use that information to your advantage. If you’re better able to hear your inner voice in the morning, maybe that’s when you should ponder important decisions. If a particular friend or family member brings out your inner voice, you might consider talking to that person when you need your inner voice’s guidance.
Data about your inner voice can help as you learn to easily recognize it, and can help you tap into that power more often. So make a note of where you are, who you’re around, what time it is, and how you’re feeling when your inner voice shows up.
Identify the opposition
What voices speak out against your inner voice?
When your inner voice stands up to say something in your boardroom, who interrupts and silences it?
In my experience, common offenders include:
Even things like hunger or tiredness can stifle your inner voice.
If you’re struggling to hear your inner voice on a regular basis, identify the voices you are hearing instead. Who is running your boardroom? And, more important, is that who you want to be running your boardroom?
Identifying the opposition helps you know what you’re up against. Then, you can be more aware of those negative voices and work to tune them out, so that you can better tune in to your inner voice.
Remember: your inner voice speaks truth. It’s truth that’s already inside of you; you just have to let your inner voice bring it out. More often than not, truth is simple, profound, and beautiful. It resonates with us in a way that other ideas don’t.
Because of this, when it comes to trusting your inner voice (and the truth it’s speaking), overthinking can be a big hurdle. When you overthink, you second guess your inner voice, even though you know, deep down, that what it’s saying is true.
If you catch yourself overthinking, it’s time to slow down and get in touch with your inner voice, so that you can recognize the simple truth that lies underneath all the noise.
If something resonates with you, trust it. Let yourself—your inner voice—tell you what you need to hear, and what part of you already knows.
Know what you want and where you’re going
Your inner voice exists for no other reason than to serve you. It wants to help you achieve your dreams, to “create happy” for yourself and for people you love. It wants to take you where you want and need to go.
Of course, it helps if you know what you want and where you’re going.
Set goals that reflect the happiness you want to create. Clearly define your dream life. At Design.org, we talk a lot about starting with the end in mind, a concept that encourages you to envision yourself after you’ve achieved what you want to achieve (whether that’s a specific goal, personal growth, etc.). From there, you can draw backwards to connect the dots from where you want to go to where you are now. It’s a powerful concept that allows you to create a direct path to a happier life and a happier you.
If you know what you want and where you’re going, your inner voice will validate that. You’ll hear it speak truth to you that supports those ideas and pushes you in that direction, and that will make it easier to trust. You’ll recognize that your inner voice is on your side, and you’ll be more willing to listen to it in the future.
So be deliberate. What do you want? Where do you want to go? Why? (If you’re having trouble, you’ll definitely want to check out our free, personalized coaching program. It’s specifically designed to help you set your focus and create your path toward happiness. Here’s more info about how it works.)
Your inner voice is one of your best allies when it comes to creating in a meaningful way. If you can learn to trust your inner voice, it’s not going to lead you astray. Rather, it will lead you to meaningful experiences that ultimately help you “create happy.” It’s already inside of you. Are you ready to use it?
Bring out your inner voice, with Design.org.
When you take our free assessment, you’ll start receiving free, personalized coaching that can help you “create happy” in your own life. We’re ready when you are.