No matter who you are or where you are or where you slept or how you slept or even when you slept – the first voice you heard when you woke up was not your spouse or your cat or your child – it the voice in your head! You know there is serious dialogue going on all the time in your head, but for our purposes today, we’ll call this your “Inner Voice.”
Prominent psychiatrist, Lev Vygotsky, determined our development of an “Inner Voice” begins at around age three as we discover our ability to sort through and then integrate our thoughts and language; migrating into an exclusively inner dialogue as we grow older. Inner speech is enhanced as we learn to read (and yes, that’s our Inner Voice inside, speaking the words aloud in our head as we read). Their research also revealed that Inner Voice communication affects us physically and contributes greatly to self-awareness, self-understanding and even motivation.
All people from all walks of life have waged the three-way battle between the Inner Buzz (the chatter – observations, judgments, and minutia swirling around in our heads), the Inner Voice (self-talk that is connected to our imagination and creativity) and those voices coming from the outer world. You might even be asking yourselves if deaf people have an Inner Voice, and the answer is, yes they do. Deaf people have reported a full range of inner communication techniques ranging from sounds and sign language to the written word. And even some people returning from a comatose state report having not only heard the conversations going on around them while in that state, but also of having an internal dialogue.
It would be so much simpler if the Inner Voice was all that we had to deal with when making important decisions and choosing our path to success; but nowadays, there are countless influences coming from the world we live in, and all can have a profound impact. No worries though, this war is not lost, and a winning path has been forged by others. In fact, I have two stories of success to share, one of them being my own, but first, just a little more science.
You wouldn’t be wrong in using your Inner Voice as a kind of compass. In fact, it accounts for such important human reactions like, first impressions and gut feelings. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio of the University of Southern California concludes that, and I quote, “…it is important to pay attention to “somatic markers.” Originating in the insula (the island in the brain responsible for social emotions like pride or guilt) and the amygdala (which cues our response to threats), they send messages that something just feels right—or wrong.”
Leaders of all kinds make important decisions based on their Inner Voices. For example, in his famous speech to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University Steve Jobs said, “Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your Inner Voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Jobs was as an avid student of Eastern metaphysics, and his intuitive approach to life and work involved him learning to listen to his Inner Voice in new and productive ways along his life’s journey. He would be the first to admit the sum total of his life experiences – including an impactful, spiritually transforming trip he took to my homeland, India and his terminal cancer diagnosis – redounded to the man we now recognize as one of the most important shepherds of our technological revolution.
I once found myself at the crossroads! 10 years ago, I graduated with two master’s degrees in engineering and landed a lucrative job! I thought I was ready to live the life of my dreams; the American dream! But as I was about to sign the paperwork, I began to have major reservations. My Inner Voice communicated this may not be the correct path to take. Instead, I was receiving a strong urge to pursue studies in Holistic Nutrition. Now, this was certainly an out-of-the-box conversation for me to be having with myself. So, I decided to seek advice from the outer world – from people I trusted, such as my school counselors and professors. I knocked on many doors asking these same questions. “Should I shut down my Inner Voice and follow the obvious path that I felt society had set for me? What should I do? What road should I follow?” Most of the time, I left feeling even more confused – at times feeling guilty and stupid – for even thinking of abandoning the path set forward for someone with my education and background. The best advice that I received was from one of my professors who said, ‘Parul it doesn’t matter what I tell you to do, what matters is what you want to do. Listen to your Inner Voice, it has all the answers.”
I am happy to report that as I stand before you today, I pursued and completed the educational and experiential requirements necessary to become the proud owner/operator of a successful Wellness Coaching firm! I subsequently became a bestselling International Author, Bestseller Launch Expert helping Writers become Bestselling Authors. And yes, after learning that the choice of what I study and what I do for a living enhance me yet do not define me, I can still proudly identify as an engineer. I directly attribute my successes and positive outlook to learning how to listen to my Inner Voice. And you can too!
Here are some suggestions:
- Eat Healthy. As a Wellness Coach I am inclined to focus just a bit on the physical; the body that houses your amazing brain and the Inner Voice that communicates your intuition! A healthy, clean body leads to healthier thoughts. Our brain is directly connected to our gut and when this channel is clogged we aren’t able to navigate to our right decisions. Many great leaders fasted when they had to decide the course of their lives.
- Consider mindfulness. It doesn’t matter what you do to relax and get in-between the thoughts and actions of a busy life. But it is absolutely crucial that you do so! Whether you take up yoga or practice some other form of meditation, fish, paint or whatever…you will find that your path to your Inner Voice is bathed in light as you quiet the Inner Buzz and outer distractions of life.
- Surround yourself with non-toxic people who support you. Savor relationships with people who believe in you, trust you and who do not impose their ideas on you. Of course, these relationships will be more plentiful and tenable if you believe in yourself, trust yourself and learn to value your Inner Voice.
My life has been no less a mystery because I learned to listen to my Inner Voice. Nor has this alleviated life’s necessary peaks and valleys. But I do approach my life with a lighter heart, now. There is great satisfaction in knowing that my Inner Voice has “got my back” so to speak; that a part of me is on my side to the extent that it knows better than anyone else what is right for me. It is my constant challenge to trust my Inner Voice more than I trust the world around me.
Remember that life is a journey and not a destination; and that you are never alone on that journey. You have the answers within and a constant communication going on to help you navigate your life towards a definition of success that is yours, and yours alone!
In closing, I’d like to share a quote from fallen hero, former Arizona Cardinals player and ASU alum, Pat Tillman: