How to trust yourself – listening to your inner voice instead of everyone else

I recently received the following question from a reader, and it’s one that many parents have verbalized to me over the years:

dollarphotoclub_85640637[1]>>”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.


5 thoughts on “How to trust yourself – listening to your inner voice instead of everyone else

  1. What a powerful post!! Thank you, Avivah! Some of these sentences are an entire class in and of themselves. Practicing listening to your inner voice, practicing connecting to yourself, to our divine connection, practicing getting quiet – phew! These are actually very big challenges.

    I want to add one more aspect to this kind of living – or the striving towards it – and that is practicing compassion for those fears. Finding ways to acknowledge each fear (sometimes when they are all in chorus, it is hard to tell, but there are lots of smaller and larger individual fears in there), to spend some time comforting and supporting that injured inner part of you with all of your heart and love, without relenting on the path you are going to take. Perhaps doing things a bit more slowly, but in any case, finding ways to respect and honor those fears. When they first arose, they were our heros – they were protecting us from important threats. It isn’t easy, but important, I think, to acknowledge their value to us, and to have compassion for those parts of us that are simply screaming in terror from what is, for who we are now, no longer such a threat.

    1. Judy, your comments are always so thought provoking and well-thought out. This could be a conversation lasting several hours!

      I completely agree with you about the importance of being compassionate to ourselves. There’s no room for blaming ourselves for our fears. Our fears are part of us for a reason, and we turn to them because in the past they’ve done something for us and we perceive that they’ll continue to serve us. That’s why intellectually recognizing the place of our fears is a good thing.

      A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden insight about where one of my fears was coming from and it was really like an emotional bolt of lightning. Like, wow, no wonder I was thinking in this way about these kinds of situations. Then I was able to honor that, and say to myself, I needed it in my past but I don’t need it now because it’s no longer serving me.

  2. My first reaction is to say…how are you so sure? Maybe if you try to contact who you re it will really be the yetza hara playing a trick on you…

    It sounds beautiful but….

    1. Your comment is exactly underscoring the difficulty people have in trusting themselves – they are afraid to trust what they hear.

      But you’re right, it’s hard to know what is the voice of fear or undermining one’s self or whatever else is coming up, and what is the voice of the soul. It takes practice to access that.

      Sometimes you’ll make mistakes….and that’s all part of the learning experience, too, isn’t it?

  3. Wow! You guys have discovered on your own what has taken me years in therapy to integrate. I think you have described in beautiful, simple terms the basic theory behind IFS – integrated family systems – which looks at the parts or voices that lead us and teaches us to understand them, why and how they needed to protect us, to have compassion on the parts and the “exiles” (usually our hurt younger selves) they were protecting, and to dialogue with them so that they can feel safe to step back and allow us to access our self and trust our intuition.

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