So much of recovery and being mentally well, is about addressing the damaging impact that living with an internal critical voice can entail. I have come to realise through my own journey, that each of us have an inner voice that tries to guide us through life. Some people call this their ‘intuition’, their ‘gut instinct’ or their ‘inner guide’ but for me, it’s the way the universe communicates what’s right me. My job is just to listen. Even when we are in a dark place, we often have a sense of this voice…even when it’s just a whisper but so few of us really trust it.
When I begin to explore this in therapy with clients, many people will share that they can identify the presence of an intuitive voice but also say that they pretty much ignore it most of the time and more than that…they actually often do the opposite of what it is trying to tell them.
I’ve tried to give you a few every-day examples so that you can see what I mean:
Example 1: You are offered a new job. The job looks ok but there is something in your gut that’s telling you it isn’t right and not to take it. You ignore the feeling and accept the job anyway.
Example 2; You are asked out on a date with someone new. You find the person attractive and you’re flattered by the attention but something inside you is telling you that this will not end well. You go on the date regardless.
Once we have identified that people aren’t making their decisions based on this internal intuition, we must ask…what are we basing our lives and decisions on then? The bleak answer is often…fear.
Fear is often what guides all of our major decisions and causes us to ignore that inner voice. Fear has been used socially as a tool to motivate people for hundreds of years, but it directs us away from ourselves and keeps us trapped in a world where we are often drawn toward people and scenarios that reinforce our fear-based belief systems.
One question that often comes up is this:
“Surely it’s right to be fearful? Don’t you think fear is important? “
Fear certainly has a place and a value but I think that there are 2 different types of fear. The first is what I call ‘instinctive fear’ and I think that this actually comes from your own intuitive voice. It is the fear that keeps us safe. For example, the fear that stops you walking alone down a darkened alley at night. We intuitively feel fearful because we’re faced with an unsafe scenario.
The second type of fear is the fear that we have bought into or inherited…the fear of living. So many of the things that we are terrified of are precisely the things that give us the most joy and happiness: relationships, travel, adventure, love, to name a few. Fear corrodes our confidence and takes so much more than it gives.
Fear breeds fear and the more scared of the world we become, the more likely it is that we see our fear materialize. Our external realities are a manifestation of what we think about and what we believe. If what we are consumed by are fears that stop us from ever creating opportunities or moving forward, we remain stuck in a fear cycle.
For example: If you believe that you find it impossible to ever have a meaningful relationship, then guess what? It’ll be pretty tricky. If you believe that you’ll always be in a dead-end job then that will likely be the case. The beliefs that we have for ourselves become our lives and if we want that to change then we need to do something differently.
Allowing fear to rule our lives does not prevent us from experiencing loss, sadness or pain or any of those emotions that we are all so afraid to feel…it merely numbs our experience of life. It offers us a watered down version of who we could be. It makes us feel lonely in crowds and has us existing in lives that we know weren’t really meant for us.
To be brave is to recognize those fears but to turn toward the inner voice for guidance instead. ‘I am brave’ is one of my favourite affirmations and it’s one that I relied on heavily when I was still trying to find my purpose in the world. Making a decision to change the way that you are living your life is incredibly empowering and it will free you from the shackles of fear.
Be brave and have the courage to follow your heart, it will lead you to whom you’re meant to be.