How to Hear Your Inner Voice

Are you someone who struggles to cut through all the noise in your mind to find what you really need from your inner voice and intuition? It’s not uncommon, especially for people with a history of trauma who have become hypervigilant to others’ emotional cues.

In trauma, we learned to be aware of the slightest shift in others’ energy, because it might mean punishment or an abusive outburst if we didn’t tiptoe on the eggshells.

If you’re constantly on the lookout for other people’s frustrations, fears, and emotions, your mind can get cluttered with the ceaseless chatter of everyone else’s thoughts and feelings, and your own thoughts about what those other people are thinking and feeling, leaving you feeling totally lost when it comes to tuning in to your own inner voice.

And your voice is in there, deep down, knowing what you need.

I remember one of the biggest culture shocks of visiting the UK for the first time — the TV was always on and people were having multiple conversations in the same room. It put me into meltdown mode and I had to leave the room or the house several times due to the overstimulation of all that noise happening at once.

It’s happened at work too, when I worked in a large shared office space. One coworker would often call another on speakerphone, despite being only a few paces away. I could hardly concentrate on my own work when there were so many conversations happening around me.

That’s what it’s like when you’re trying to listen to your inner voice and everything else is taking up the valuable space in your mind.

It might be your own surface level thoughts, about what to make for dinner or what needs to go on the grocery list or something nagging you from your to-do list that you keep putting off. I often have trouble sleeping because I can’t stop thinking

It might be deeper thoughts about things that have happened to you or grief or replaying a conversation in your head that you wish had gone differently.

It might be thoughts about other people, either worrying about them or feeling their own energy and mood affecting yours, or even wondering what they would think of your decision about something.

So when it comes time to reflect on what you really truly want or need, cutting through all these layers of thoughts can feel impossible.

For instance, I quit my full time job earlier this year. I had been struggling with the decision for a while, because I felt like I had to exhaust my options trying to deal with a management problem before I called it quits. I thought about what others would think of me quitting, what my team would think, what my partner would think, even what my mom would think (and I don’t even talk to my mom).

Quitting would mean giving up a great salary, letting go of the on-again-off-again promise of a promotion and raise, leaving a great team that I had been mentoring and was so proud to lead, and feeling like I was starting over all over again.

Finally, a last straw moment happened for me and I knew without a doubt that I had to leave the company. My inner voice became so loud that no amount of other thoughts could muffle it, and I started looking for a new job. I set myself a deadline on giving my notice whether or not I had something else lined up, and on June 30 I gave my notice.

I have never regretted it, because I know that it was the right thing to do as my next step in life.

Here’s how to access your inner voice:

Ready for the big, huge, life changing secret? Here it is: It varies from person to person and there’s no one way to do it.

Did you think I was going to say meditate? I am bad at meditating, so I am not going to tout it as the best way for you to access your inner knowing. But for some, meditating might be the perfect way to allow the surface thoughts to drift away, quieting the mind in order to access what is beneath. If you want to meditate, try a guided meditation from YouTube or an app like Headspace to get the basics down.

You might also benefit from journaling, letting yourself push through the surface thoughts, the deeper thoughts, all the way down to the truth in the pit of your stomach about the next right thing to do.

Maybe your thing is tarot, oracle readings, runes, or another spiritual ritual. If you have trouble sorting out the noise in your thoughts, spend some time with your cards or runes focusing on your inner wisdom. Burn some incense (not sage, palo santo, or anything else appropriated from other cultures’ sacred practices) to cleanse away those surface thoughts and your thoughts about others. This is a time just for you. Then pull your cards and trust that they are from your innermost knowing.

As you notice that something feels like it’s tugging on something deeper, pull on the thread and follow it. You might find associations from your more surface level thoughts (“I’m angry about this breakup because he never apologized to me for hurting me”) down to related experiences (“My parents never apologized for hurting me either”) further down into a more fundamental truth that will help shape your future experiences (“For me, someone needs to have the same apology language as I do if a long-term relationship is going to work out, and it’s okay to have that boundary.”)

There are as many ways to disconnect from all that brain-noise as there are people in the world, so try several ideas and see what works for you. Here are some other ideas:

  • Call a friend or family member and just talk and listen to each other. Sometimes deep knowing comes out when you’re connecting with others and listening to them. I’ve had big “WOW moments” when talking to others that are as helpful me as they are to them.
  • Watch a candle or incense burn. This is meditation-adjacent, but just watching a candle or an incense stick burn can give you something to focus your surface attention on, letting your mind wander and process things while your attention is occupied.
  • Exercise. When I used to run, I often let my mind wander and process things in the background. It happened most often when I ran outside (something about being among trees and nature with fresh air is really good for feeling disconnected from brain-noise) but I had a few great runs at the gym too. Also, yoga can be a great way to access inner knowing, as the breath focus in yoga and holding certain poses can open up mindfulness and meditative calm. There’s something about relaxing into a pretzel shape and just being cool with it that helps you untangle the pretzel of your thoughts as well.
  • Create your own ritual. Take bits and pieces of different ideas here to create your own inner voice ritual. Drink a certain kind of tea, journal in a certain notebook, burn a certain scent of candle or incense. The more you practice with these ritual elements, the quicker you can get into the “inner voice” mindset when you use them.

In all these situations, disconnecting from technology for a while can do wonders for quieting the mind. We’re so used to being “on” all the time (I’ve been known to open up Facebook on my phone when I’m literally already on Facebook on my laptop, just out of habit) that putting our phones down, turning off music or TV, and just being quiet feels strange.

But in that quiet, you can finally cut through all the noise in your mind to hear what’s underneath.

Work With Me One-on-One

Ready to cut through your brain’s bullshit? I help people do that by examining the onion of thought layers around their inner knowing. Email me to set up a free consult to talk about how personal coaching can help you achieve your goals and stay focused on the next right step for you.

5 Tips To Overcome Loneliness While Social Distancing

As COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of millions around the world, Americans are being urged to stay home and practice social distancing to help slow the spread. That means that numerous non-essential businesses have closed, non-essential events canceled, and people are limiting their interactions with one another.

While all of this is for the greater good, the isolation can still get to people, generating overwhelming feelings of loneliness. And it’s not easy to get through the day when you experience loneliness. As a result, the pandemic is now more than a health issue, but also a mental issue.

However, there is good news so far. You can overcome loneliness – it’s possible. Here are five tips for coping with isolation and reducing feelings of loneliness, while practicing social distancing.

1. Practice Self-Care

“Take time out of each day to take care of yourself,” says Madeline Prichard, a content writer at Study demic and Australian help. “This may include catching an extra hour of sleep, or imagining someone giving you an uplifting affirmation – or maybe you can give that affirmation to yourself. Also, make sure that you’re eating right and staying active. The healthier you’re eating, and the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel.”

Also, take the time to self-reflect. In your mind, ask yourself how you’re feeling today. Know the difference between what’s temporary and what’s permanent. The pandemic shouldn’t get to you: Instead of saying “My life is forever changed,” think: “Okay, things are hard now, but I look forward to tomorrow.”

Editor’s note: While eating a balanced diet helps make sure you get a variety of nutrients, be mindful of eating disorder relapse or trying to reduce your food consumption out of fear you’ll run out of food. Now is not the time to be dieting or worrying about your weight.

2. Practice Breathing

As you meditate, incorporate breathing exercise. Even when you’re not meditating, practice breathing. No materials or equipment is needed to do this. 

Start with a few slow deep breaths, while focusing on the sensation of air going into your nostrils, and down your lungs. This helps you relax your body and mind while maintaining breath. 

3. Stay Productive – Occupy Your Mind

A good antidote to loneliness is keeping yourself busy with things you enjoy. If you’re feeling tired of doing the same old thing, now’s a great time to do something different. Maybe you’ve put off something for a good while, and you want to go back to it? If so, do that thing instead. And remember to start off small and focus only on what you can do, instead of what you’re “hoping” to do. Here are some good ideas on how to occupy your mind and find joy in variety:

  • Restart a hobby
  • Discover a new hobby
  • Tackle a new house chore
  • Read a book in a new way to mix things up – hard copy if you usually read digitally, or audio if you usually read hard copy
  • Do some exercise – some gentle stretching or a walk around the block for fresh air is a great way to stay active and give yourself time for your mind to wander and process things

4. Virtually Connect With Others

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to connect with people, even during this period of social distancing. Reach out to people through messaging apps, social media, etc. Or, you can be there for somebody who’s struggling right now, just by listening to them. But above all, it’s okay to express how you’re feeling, because chances are, you’re not alone in this pandemic, you’re not alone in the sadness, and you’re not alone in the loneliness. 

5. Stay Positive And Grateful

“It’s always a good idea to savor the little moments that give you joy in your daily life,” says Toby Aronson, a lifestyle blogger at Writemyaustralia and Studentwritingservices. “Whatever gives you joy, write it down somewhere so you won’t forget it. Also, stay positive with your thinking – appreciate the things in your life that you already have. Enjoy the time you have with your family, with your partner, and where there’s something that doesn’t stress you out.”

Social Distance Doesn’t Mean You’re Alone

Social distancing is what people have to do to try and contain COVID-19 — but along with these necessary steps come negative emotions in some people. In fact, people in social isolation will surely experience excessive points of loneliness now more than ever, even to the point of depression or thoughts of self-harm.

If you are feeling depressed or have thoughts of self-harm, don’t be afraid to reach out to a certified counselor or crisis hotline. There are always people standing by, waiting to help, despite the pandemic. If you suspect a friend is experiencing poor mental health, try reaching out to them to see if they’re open to receiving help. Sometimes just checking in with someone can alleviate their loneliness, but it’s important to remember that their mental health is not your responsibility – protect yourself with boundaries and know when things are no longer at a level you can help with. It’s okay to refer your friend to a professional who is trained to help them through crisis. 

For immediate help, call 911, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517).

Remember that although you may feel alone right now, just know that you’re not facing the pandemic alone. We’re all in this together.

Molly Crockett writes for Bigassignments.com and Stateofwriting.com, and teaches writing skills for Eliteassignmenthelp.com. As a health writer, she not only shares nutritional tips and great recipes, but also documents the ups and downs of her diet journey.

How to Keep Your Body and Mind in Check When at Home

Health Trackers

Photo provided by Siege Media

Keeping up with your mental and physical state is extremely important, especially during times of uncertainty like these. Luckily, there are at-home tools to help you do just that. From a pain tracker that records your hourly symptoms, to a mindfulness tracker that marks your head-to-toe sensations, there are plenty of options available no matter your wellness goals.

Documenting your overall mental and physical well being can help you answer pivotal questions about who you are and how you react to stress. Some questions that these trackers can help answer are:

  • Have you ever wondered what triggers your bad mental health days?
  • How did you physically feel a week ago vs today? What caused this change, if any?
  • Have you drunk enough water today?

The pain, healthy habits, and mindfulness trackers explained below will help you answer the questions above, while allowing you to understand yourself a little bit more.

 

Pain Tracker 

 

A pain tracker uses colors to help you understand the level of pain you are experiencing. By being able to track your pain hour-by-hour, you have a great resource to bring to a doctor if and when you choose to seek help for your pain management.

 

Healthy Habits Tracker

 

Are there specific habits you want to implement into your daily routine? If so, the healthy habits tracker allows you to record how much sleep you’re getting, if you’re eating food that is good for you, how much water you are drinking daily, and anything else you want to monitor.  How you feel when you wake up and when you are about to go to sleep is also recorded, just to see what habits might make you physically and emotionally improved. 

 

Mindfulness Tracker 

 

The mindfulness tracker allows for awareness of your mental well-being and while taking into account what your triggers may be. By listing out your everyday moods, you can see how practicing mindfulness and practicing relaxation techniques are improving your overall, full body well-being. 

If you’re feeling lower than normal, journaling and taking a moment to be conscious of your thoughts can be beneficial to reflect with later on. If it’s one of your better days, identifying the differences in what you’ve been eating, how many hours of sleep you got, or even how much coffee you’ve had can help you incorporate those habits again.

To integrate mindfulness and other healthy habits into your daily routine, the health-management tracker can be printed and used one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. Follow the link to download the printable trackers!

 

Mindfulness Meditation for Healing

It’s okay to be having a hard time right now. 

I want to feel normal, but things aren’t normal. The world is in chaos and people are scared, stressed, and looking for hope. 

It’s okay to feel weird. It’s okay to feel worried. It’s okay to feel like you’ve done everything you can and you’re going to hunker down for a while and wait. 

It’s okay not to know what the next step is. 

For the time it takes to read this blog, let’s do a mindfulness meditation for healing.

Just for right now, while you read this, I want you to take deep belly breaths and let them out slowly. You can count to four and hold or just breathe deeply, letting your natural rhythm tell you when to breathe in and out. 

As you inhale, think about bringing healing and recovery to yourself. You can imagine a warm light around you, keeping you in a safe space, or any other visualization that feels good (including none at all). 

As you exhale, send that healing energy out into the world. Send that warm light out through your neighborhood, your city, your state, and outward. 

Inhale, heal yourself. 

Exhale, heal the world. 

Imagine if everyone found a tiny bit of peace for themselves and then sent it onward.

PS. I’m teaching folks how to improve their boundaries after trauma in a six week class. We start April 13, so there’s still time to reserve your spot. Just shoot me an email.