Who do you listen to for guidance and advice? Who can you always rely upon to give you the wisest insights? What sources or resources do you trust to provide you with the most valuable information?
Most people will have an answer to one or more of those questions – and this may be one of the biggest challenges we face in life today. Because the voices you should be listening to are not always those you have already decided are worth hearing.
It’s true that no human is an island, and none of us can get through life without the guidance, advice or direction of others. But navigating the cacophony of various opinions and perspectives in society can leave us overwhelmed and bewildered. That’s why most of us learn to listen to the voices that we believe are best for us … and begin to tune out information from ‘untrusted’ sources.
Unfortunately, the voices we trust are almost inevitably the ones we are told to listen to by our parents, or bosses, or spiritual leaders or social circles. And this creates a cycle where we each, in our ever-shrinking echo chambers, end up paying attention to the voices that are the loudest, the most demanding, the most emphatic and/or the most extreme.
In this space – a space most of us inhabit today – we end up limiting the possibilities to create greater for ourselves. Instead, we stay mired in a constant (albeit often unconscious) habit of conforming, being right, being liked and making other people happy. When we do this – when we regulate the voices we choose to listen to – we impose limiting judgements on ourselves and keep actual contribution at a comfortable distance.
So, who are the voices worth listening to? The answer to this is two-fold, and the first step is to recognize and amplify the most important voice of all … your own ‘inner’ voice.
What do you know?
The inner voice has many names: intuition, knowing, the inner GPS. Regardless of what you choose to call it, there is an incredible benefit to tuning in to the inherent and instinctive knowing that resides within you. This a voice that will ignore what’s right, what’s acceptable, what’s approved of and what’s perfect … and will simply guide you toward what’s good for you.
In a world obsessed with logic and reason, the inner voice has predominately been abandoned or ignored. This means that, for many of us, it can be a difficult challenge to reactivate this powerful guidance system. You may have trouble hearing it at first, even when you try to ‘tune in’ to what it has to say. However, to receive the most valuable advice and information, I encourage you to start nurturing and training that inner knowing.
A great way to do this is to ask yourself at every relevant moment: What do I know about this situation that I have not yet acknowledged? Realistically, you may not hear or sense any response at all – for many people, the inner voice starts out tiny and silent – but the more you ask that voice, the greater it becomes.
You may also ask yourself: What’s right for me? or What’s light for me? This question triggers incredible feedback in your body: does the situation fill you with a sense of ‘lightness’ or ease, or do you feel heavy and sluggish?
Once you have a platform of trust in your inner knowing, you have an easier time determining which of those voices ‘out there’ are contributing something of value to you and your creations … and which are not.
Who do you listen to?
So, how do you know which voices to listen to? You know by the signals from your own mind and body. When you’re listening to someone and what they’re saying lightens up your world or resonates with a sense of YES! that’s a sign that there’s something in it for you. In contrast, if information or advice contracts your world, ask yourself if it’s really relevant to you.
Vitally, kick yourself out of ‘echo chamber autopilot’ and understand that valuable information is not identity-based; it’s situation-based. Just because you’ve listened to someone in the past, doesn’t mean you have to listen to them every time. And don’t dismiss what feels like a valuable perspective, just because it comes from someone you wouldn’t normally trust.
Appreciating which voices you should listen to may leave you feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. After all, the voice of someone you love and respect will not always communicate what’s best for you. And someone you usually don’t listen to may offer you the most valuable information of all. The only way to know, moment by moment, is to listen to the one inner voice that will never let you down.
Susanna Mittermaier is a psychologist and founder of Pragmatic Psychology. She is also the author of the #1 international bestselling book, Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy, and certified facilitator for Right Voice for You, a special program by Access Consciousness®. A highly sort after public speaker, Susanna offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology. She is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices. Follow on Twitter @AccessSusanna