When to Trust Your Inner Voice and When to Ignore it
The two-shades of inner monologue
I was in the car driving home from work, the road and traffic sort of blurred into the background, and a dialogue started in my head. I was thinking about the last six months of my life.
In this period of time, I had started a new job and bought a house with my girlfriend. I had seen lockdowns and global death rates not seen since the World Wars.
As this transcript continued in my mind, another voice started narrating my thoughts. As the thought of how happy I was in the house, and how much I was enjoying the challenges of the new job, it started to say “have you bitten off too much? A new house and a new job, while unemployment rates continue to rise. You’ve been careless”.
As the drive continued, and the thought transcript shifted to potential futures the voice talked of “you’ve been okay so far, you’ve got a great support network, just relax. You can only control the controllable’s, don’t stress about what-if’s. You’ve made good choices”.
I started to think about those two narratives, and I realised that, although the voices sounded the same, they were not. They though both reverberated through my mind with the same tone, they came from different sources.
There were actually two voices, and only one is worth listening too. But, what are they and how do you tell them apart?
Ego and intuition
There are two voices that run overlay in your head, and while you should listen to one, the other should be quietened. But how do you tell them apart?
They sound the same and both seem like they are trying to tell you something. They sound like your subconscious trying to communicate to you. They sound like your ‘gut’. It makes deciphering these two voices really important.
To work that out, you need to understand these voices. The two voices, that sound the same and overlay each other in your inner monologue, are your ego and your intuition. Your ego is loud, your intuition is quiet, and the loud one tries to dominate.
So, how do you decipher which is which, and how do you work out how to listen to one and quieten the other. There are a few things that can help you.
You don’t need divining crystals or a spirit guide, you don’t need whiskey and a seat at the bar. You need a few techniques that can guide you to the right conclusion. You need help identifying when one voice is speaking.
Identifying your ego
Your biology is against you. When the word ego is mentioned, it is common to associate it with self-confidence and bravado.
The literal translation of ego, from its Latin origins, is ‘I’. That is, when you say I want a new car, you are saying your ego wants a new car. Your ‘self’, your ‘identity’ wants a new car, and the reasons are varied but internalised.
Essentially, based on where I am right now, all of my experience on the types of things I need, and all of the variables I am considering, I want a new car.
This is an external example, but imagine that I replace it with an internal feeling— I feel afraid.
Expanding on this might look like — based on all of my experience, and what I am seeing around me, I have reason to worry about something.
You might not know why, but your ego does. Your sense of self, your ‘I’ exists for this type of narrative. It is to assimilate your experiences and immediate senses to tell you something. That is why it is loud. It is trying to keep you safe.
Imagine you are out with people you know for dinner, and there is one person who is constantly talking over the others and pointing out things about your self and your environment. They are annoying and take the fun out of things. That person is your ego in your mind.
That persons shirt is dirty, maybe they don’t wash their hands, I shouldn’t touch them. Dirty shirt is sickness, is my shirt dirty? Am I sick?
Chair is uncomfortable, move before you hurt your back. Sore back means no work, means no money. Chair is bad.
Stomach is gurgling, eat. Or is it too much food. Eat, no don’t eat.
Cake is coming, feel self-conscious about my weight, don’t eat fatty. Look at the others having cake, they don’t care as much as me. Should I care?
All the while you are trying to have a conversation with other guests. If we can all associate with the noisiness of this voice and the types of information it feeds us, how to find the right voice?
How do find the quieter, less immediate voice?
Here are some tips and tricks.
Listening to the right voice
The right voice is the one that breaks through infrequently, in a quieter voice and whispers things like:
You are stronger than this, you can make it, don’t give up now.
If you really want this, you have some choices, act now.
Have you seen this problem in this way? What if you did?
This is the voice of your intuition. This is your ‘gut’ speaking and asking you to trust it.
But if both monologues are running at the same time how do you tell them apart, how do you create space for one and limit the other?
The key to identifying which is speaking is to focus on these key thing.
- If it answers quickly and without you asking, if it is noisy and fast to react — it is ego. If the answer comes slowly and more quietly it is your intuition.
- Does the voice sound afraid, is it fearful? If it does it is ego. If it is light and freeing it is your intuition.
- Did the voice offer you different and contrasting options in quick succession? It is ego. Your intuition is steady.
- Did the voice offer a list of justifications? If it did, it was your ego. If you just heard it and knew, no justification, it is your intuition.
- If the voice leveraged external influences or prestige it was ego. If it offered no caveat or metric for success, it is intuition.
You get a sense of the differences.
There is a story from the Cherokee’s;
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This is how it is for us as well. The ego can consume you if you give it the chance. If you focus on feeding it, it will consume you.
Those that we see suffer from egotism are feeding that wolf. Those that suffer from depression and anxiety are also feeding that wolf but from a different side.
You need to feed the other wolf.
Find your attitude of gratitude, find your ‘light’ people that lift you up and spend less time with the people who pull you down. Name your ego and shut it down, create space for your intuition to speak.
Then, start to trust yourself in listening to the right inner voice.
Inspired by life. Leadership, Growth, Personal Development. Engineer and Sports Enthusiast. Top Writer in Leadership. https://medium.com/@spurtapurton