Do you ever have a problem and choose to discuss it with everyone around you, but that doesn’t seem to help? The doctor can’t give you a diagnosis, your best friend is caring but she seems to project a bit too much, your partner or loved ones care too much to actually listen or don’t have the time to hear what you are saying? Or maybe your stories keep repeating themselves like a broken record and everyone, including yourself, is sick and tired of hearing them? Each time you go to someone else, you feel like you are giving away your power? You feel a bit more deflated, a bit more misunderstood, a bit more alone, and the light at the end of the tunnel begins to fade?
That is because the only person who has the power to heal and change your situation is you. And the strongest, wisest, most loving voice is that small voice inside of your own heart. She, or maybe he, becomes louder and louder the more you listen.
There are amazing, wise people out there in the world who can teach, love, help, and support us. Listening to them can be beneficial at times, but we must stop ignoring the wee voice inside of our own hearts. She is the inner medic and our own best friend. Loyal, loving and grounded in soul, she is the type of gal who sits back and observes until there is something important to say. He is the type of guy who sees straight to the heart of the matter. She is the inner wild nature gal who walks with bare feet in the sand and forgets to put on makeup.
During our struggles with food, body image, self-esteem, and any form of addiction in our society, this quiet voice inside is washed over by the loud, booming advice of everyone else. We so often turn away from ourselves when we struggle. And yet, the only way back home is to listen deeply to ourselves. After all, we are the only ones who know our own experience in the world. We are the only ones who know exactly how we feel at any given moment. And, for better or worse, where ever we go, there we are.
By listening to ourselves, we get to know ourselves, sometimes for the very first time. When I first started to build self-awareness, I suddenly realized I had a voice in my head. It was unsettling. You may be thinking to yourself, “um yeah, we all have voices in our head.” Or perhaps you are thinking, “hmmm voices in your head sound a little bit cray cray.” Regardless, at the beginning of my journey, I did not know anything about this voice in my own head. That was because I thought I was my inner critic who wanted to be perfect, please everyone around me and fade away into thin air. I thought the critical voice in my head was reality.
Lucky for me, this lack of self-awareness was not long-lasting. I started to listen more. At first, I noticed that I would have arguments with myself in my own head. That meant I had at least two voices or tones of one voice in my head, both of which were me. This was revolutionary. I began to pay attention to the thoughts that flowed through my mind. And I discovered that my thoughts were overwhelmingly sad and critical. It was as though my evil stepsister had taken up residence in my own head. But behind all of my negativity lived a sassy diva who didn't take no shit from nobody, especially myself. She was like Beyonce meets Tina Fey, possessing strength, beauty and humor. This was an essential, albeit strange, discovery.
By observing my own thought patterns, I came to see my mismanaged mind was a bit redundant and very opinionated. I was not at peace. My unregulated thought patterns were driving me crazy. That damned evil stepsister, AKA inner critic, was mean! My inner diva was strong. And they would argue relentlessly.
As I learned to quiet down, pay attention, breathe deeply, and focus my mind, I began to hear a quiet voice coming from deep inside of myself that was neither my critic nor my diva. I call her wisdom. This part of myself emerged from my intuitive nature. As I tuned into my own inner wisdom, I began my process of building self-awareness. I began to access the layers of my own being, sensing my energy, emotions, sensations, and wisdom.
I began to pay attention as I expressed different, sometimes opposing perspectives. And I noticed that these various aspects of my personality were followed by emotions. It was as though my emotions were physical expressions of my thought patterns.
Spoken out loud, the energy and tones of my inner voices are very different. My inner critic is very exacting and tends to be loud. She always believes she is right. She is very reactive and full of self-defense. When she leads the way, the emotions that follow are often fear and anger, followed by sorrow and depression. My inner diva is a bit of a rebel. She often takes the form of my shadow self. Full of creativity, she often gets in the way of herself by leading the way with sass and fire. Although she is a bit rebellious, she can also be a powerhouse, rooted Earth mama. Some core emotions that follow when she leads the way are wonder, happiness, curiosity, and desire. My wee voice inside, inner wisdom, expresses herself with a sense of peace and calm. She is nonreactive and grounded in nature. She does not need to argue and defend herself. She is endlessly soothing and deeply powerful. The emotions that pulse throughout my body when she leads the way are peace and love.
There is a method of nutritional counseling that is called crowding out. This is the process of replacing unhealthy, sugar-loaded, processed-foods with healthier alternatives. Rather than focusing on what we cannot eat, we focus on the abundance of healthier foods we can eat. By emphasizing the beautiful, healthy foods that are available to us, we "crowd out" the unhealthy foods. Picture filling your refrigerator and pantry with so many healthy options, there is little room left for junk food.
Healing my relationship with my mind and myself was another form of crowding out. I had to learn to focus my mind on the voices that were coming from a place of love and wisdom rather than fear and criticism. The more I listened, the better guidance I received and the healthier I became.
A Note From My Voice of Wisdom to Your Voice of Wisdom (VOW):
I have compiled a list of empowering, encouraging, introspective questions that can help start an internal dialogue. They can help to get to the heart of the matter when nobody else seems to have the answers. Even though these types of questions can seem cheesy, or even irritating, they can be so helpful. When we ask empowering questions, we get empowering answers.
General check-in questions:
1. What are you grateful for today?
2. Are you focused on the pain or abundance and opportunity?
3. How can you shift your focus to create more joy?
4. What are you looking for?
Weekly questions that can help us change our behaviors:
1. How are you feeling right now? Describe the colors, shapes, and sensations that make up your feelings.
2. Do you have any recurring feelings or emotions that are not being addressed?
3. Do you have any recurring thoughts or behaviors that are not being addressed?
4. How are the thoughts or behaviors serving you?
5. Do you want to change your thought patterns or behaviors?
6. What are some healthy ways of thinking and behaviors that could replace the unhealthy patterns?
Creating movement, dreams, and creativity questions:
1. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
2. If you knew how to heal, what would you do?
3. If you knew how to live a full and healthy life, what would you do?
4. If you knew how to recover, what would you do?
5. If you knew (insert your own question here), what would you do?