Seven Ways To Cultivate Your “Inner Voice.”

That’s right.  It’s in quotes.  Because I don’t really know WHAT to call “it.”

Muse?  Intuition?  Creativity?  Instinct?  Soul’s yearnings?

Also, “it” gets a bad rap from things like criminals’  explanations that they were told by “voices” to do bad things.  (And, frankly, I have no idea how this works.  What they are seeing/hearing/feeling — because I’m not in there with them, experiencing what happens.  Or if it happens.)

So . . . whatever we’re going to call it . . . what I do know is that I have a strong and apparently productive one, and that folks have started asking me about how they can plug into theirs more.  For writing.  For art-making.  For guidance in life about taking the next steps when you’re in shift-mode.

Here are ways I’ve found that help me cultivate mine.

Really, there is only one tip — and all the other tips spring from this mother-of-the-tips:  TREAT YOUR INNER VOICE LIKE YOUR MOST BEST AND SPECIAL FRIEND EVER.  (Because it is.)

1.  Pay attention to what it says.

You know how good you feel and how a relationship grows when you are heard by someone you hold dear who feels the same about you?  Seen?  Acknowledged?  Recognized?  Whole?  Solid?  Strong?  Your inner voice feeds off that exact same thing.  When you pay attention to it, it loves you more and opens more to you and wants more playdates.

2.  Paying attention = writing it down.

Hell yes.  Write it down.  Those images and those words that just pop into your head, unbidden?  When you are in some not-really-connected-all-the-way state in life like showering or driving or running or whatever?  Those random-assed words and pictures that just pop into your brain, “out of nowhere?”  Them.  Those.  Right there.  They are the nuggets of your inner voice — like little gold nuggets on the ground, in your great prospecting-in-life.

You HAVE to write them down.  First, odds are you will forget them otherwise.  Second — and maybe even more important — that writing down is evidence/experience to your inner voice (and the habit-patterns you’re developing in your brain) that what it shares with you MATTERS TO YOU.  Duh.  Just like your loved ones respond better when you demonstrate to them that they matter to you.

3.  Don’t be on your screen at the same time (unless you’re there to write down what it says).

You know how you feel when a friend you haven’t seen for a long time makes a lunch date with you — and then pays more attention to her phone than to you?  Yeah.  So don’t do that to your inner voice.  You know what happens.  You shut down.  You’re not going to get to the good stuff.   You’re not going to start the stories or the parts of the conversations when you tell her what’s really going on with you, because you don’t trust she’s going to listen to what you are brave enough to reveal.  Don’t treat your inner voice that way.  Don’t be checking your phone every five minutes when you’re in communion with the inner voice.  It takes time and silence and trust to build to those points in conversations where intimacies are revealed.  Don’t cut that off by looking down to see who just texted you.  Treat your inner voice like it’s the most important thing you want a text from, and you’re ignoring the rest.

4.  Devote some time to your inner voice.

So many ways to do this.  Meditation.  Free-write.  Hiking.  Anything/anywhere that you are making a date with your inner voice and following through by doing it.  It doesn’t have to be “right” or woo-woo sacred in any particular way.  Just make the time commitment to give the voice the space to tell you it loves you, and you tell it you love it back.  And then just let the space, images, words, flow.  There isn’t a success or failure of output here. Even when sometimes “it’s” . . . “just” . . . blank.  The point is that you have made the time, and taken it.  The rest will build itself.

5.  Show your inner voice that you trust it.

When you are brave enough, display your trust in your inner voice by doing things like writing a part of the story it told you would work (even though you have no idea in the moment you’re writing it how the hell it’s going to work logically with the rest of the story) or making what the inner voice tells you into a piece of art that you share with others.  Your inner voice loves this.  Who doesn’t?  Who doesn’t love it when the beloved trusts you and is proud enough of you that the beloved acts on your behalf, and shares his joy in you with the rest of the world?

6.  Let your inner voice have its own life.

Don’t criticize it, doubt it, try to make it fit into some preconceived notion you have of what you already think you know what needs happen.  Uh-uh.  Nope.  Your inner voice is a wild creative loving thing that will not be tamed or made to fit inside your little boxes.  Your job with this best special friend of yours is to love it and acknowledge it and recognize it for what it offers — not try to change it.  Trying to change it will make it shrink, run away, hide — not show its real self to you.

7.  Tell your inner voice thank you.  A lot.

Well, yeah.  Because your inner voice is an awesome f*cking gift, being, spirit that you are lucky to know.  Be grateful that it’s chosen you to trust with its awesomeness and to see it for what it is.  Because that is a very brave and generous thing.  Always, always, always honor it with your thanks.