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Listen to Your Inner Wisdom

Have you ever faced a decision or situation where you felt ambivalent, confused, or unsure about what to do or which path to take? You might get conflicting messages about what you should do from family members, friends, coworkers, organizations, religion, politicians, and society. Your heart may tell you to do one thing, while your head tells you to do another.

Perhaps as a child, you were around an adult with strong opinions, a hot temper, and/or controlling behaviors. It might not have felt emotionally safe to go against that adult’s opinions or demands. Or you might have belonged to a community, such as an organization or religious group, with specific and strict expectations for beliefs and behaviors. The price of nonconformity from that community might have been quite high. In situations like these, you may have learned to doubt your own sense of right and wrong and to do their bidding in order to avoid punishment or even censure from the group. Since these people and/or groups ignored your feelings, needs, and wishes, you learned to ignore your own feelings, needs, and wishes in order to conform and avoid negative judgments or punishments from others. Over time, you may have become completely disconnected to your own inner voice, and you may have forgotten who you are and what your life options could be.

Problems could arise when you become disconnected to your inner wisdom. For example, you could become depressed, anxious, inattentive, “spaced out” irritable, or angry. You might experience loss of creativity, memory problems, panic attacks, temper outbursts, or even thoughts of suicide. Your self-care skills could suffer in the areas of eating, sleeping, exercising, and enjoying life. You might develop a tendency to do things to tune out, such as spend hours on the Internet, abuse alcohol or drugs, overeat, or buy things that you don’t really need. Your health could be affected in various ways, such as exhaustion, high blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, or insomnia. I’ve worked with many people who, on their wedding day, knew that they should not marry that person, but married anyway. They came to me later to help them pick up the pieces of their lives when the marriage failed.

How can you learn to reconnect with your Inner Wisdom? Here are some strategies. First, regularly take time to be away from your busy schedule and responsibilities to spend some quiet time alone. Breathe deeply to relax and release tension. Become grounded in your body by paying attention to your senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, as well as noticing the details of your surroundings. Ask yourself what is working well in your life, and then keep that going. Ask yourself what areas of your life need attention, change, improvement, beginning, or ending. One by one, address each area in baby steps. You can’t climb a mountain in a single leap. It takes time to dream where you would like to be and then to get there. Be gentle with yourself, one step at a time and one day at a time. You can take care of some tasks, while you might need assistance with others. If you need help with learning how to listen to and follow your Inner Wisdom, please call me for an appointment at 512.687.3436.

~Linda Eldredge, Ed.D., Psychologist

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