I recently received the following question from a reader, and it’s one that many parents have verbalized to me over the years:
>>”How does one come to access, acknowledge and act on ones own intuition?! and make a habit of doing so?! I would really like to hear your say on this! There are so many of us parents who mean well and sense that there must be a better way, but just can’t take that gargantuan leap to access, acknowledge and act on our own intuition.”<<
I’ll rephrase this the question. How do you trust yourself and your own sense of what is right to do, when those around you are making different choices and the unspoken (or spoken!) message to you is that you would be wrong to do something different?
There’s not a guide for “Take these 3 easy steps and you, too, can trust yourself no matter what others are telling you!”
It takes courage to recognize what your heart is telling you. It takes courage to recognize the gap between what you really want in your life and what you have. And it takes enormous, enormous courage to then take actions based on what your heart is telling you.
It’s not easy. Most of us have been trained to look to others on the outside to give us validation and tell us that we’re okay, that we’re enough, that our choices are the right choices. There’s a metamessage that we live with – if we do what everyone else does, we’ll be safe and have a good life.
When you begin to consider making choices that are different from those around you, you’re suddenly deprived of something that has given you emotional oxygen your entire life – the tacit or active approval of your friends, family or society.
It’s seductive, that approval. To act in the absence of the approval we’ve come to depend on will trigger many fears. Fears…
Fear – of being different, of making a colossal mistake, of resulting financial instability.
Insecurity – if no one else does this, how I can even think of trying it?
Compliance – if everyone I respect doesn’t make this choice (religious leaders, parent advisors, educational professionals, child care experts), then it must be wrong.
These fears can be overwhelming. The fears seem very real and your inner heart’s desire seems very puny in comparison. And that’s why so many people live a life that is determined by their fears rather than what is truly important to them.
You begin by recognizing the fear and looking at what’s keeping you in fear. Having the validation of others doesn’t make you okay. It doesn’t keep you safe, and it won’t make you happy.
You can challenge your fears both intellectually and emotionally. You can fill your mind with positive thoughts, put up inspiring quotes, write affirmations of your self-worth.
You can look at the choices you’ve made in the past that have brought you satisfaction and joy even if it meant pursuing a different path than others.
You can look for mentors, live or virtual, who have some quality that you value and give you encouragement to make the choice that is close to your heart.
I’ve done all of these things. But what has been the most powerful and helpful approach for me, is to become centered within myself so I can connect to what G-d wants of me.
I believe we have each been created with a soul that remains connected to its divine source at all times. The soul’s voice is drowned out by the louder voices of living. But it knows the answers and if you can connect to your soul, you can connect to the true answers.
When I have a question about what I should be doing I try to get very quiet inside myself and ask G-d: what do You want me to do? Is this the right thing for me to do at this time? Is it the right way to go about this at this time?
When I do this, it becomes very clear what the voices of fear are and what are the voices that I should listen to. It’s not always what I expect.
I can – and do! – get very intellectual in my thoughts but that’s not the place that I can access inner wisdom from. It’s powerful to be open to Divine perspective and take action from a place of inner spiritual alignment.
Listening to your intuition is like using a muscle. When it’s inactive for a long time, trusting yourself even with something small is hard. You build that spiritual muscle by starting with the small things. When you start with the biggest life decisions it’s overwhelming because your spiritual muscles are so out of use and the fear seems so real!
One action at a time, one choice at a time. You’ll find plenty of small opportunities in a day to practice listening to your inner voice.
As you start to make those little choices from a centered place of self-trust, you begin to create a positive cycle. The more you listen to yourself and take action based on self-trust, the stronger you feel and the easier it is to make the next decision that comes along.