Listening to the Wise Voice Inside Us

Listening to the Wise Voice Inside Us

Listening to the Wise Voice Inside Us

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Did you ever get a great idea that seems to come out of nowhere? You are taking a shower, or doing the dishes or exercising or driving the car and a possible solution to a gnarly challenge you’ve been wrestling with appears. Why does that happen?

One theory is that when you are not consciously thinking, the “wise” voice inside of you has a chance to be heard. We all have a wise voice inside us, but it often gets drowned out by everything else that is vying for our attention. It is the cacophony of thoughts that can feel like a dozen monkeys are chattering inside your head.

It feels good to do some unfocused thinking. In the February 2023 issue of Reader’s Digest, in the “News from the World of Medicine” feature, Mark Witten reported that “Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan asked participants to sit and let their minds wander for 20 minutes… On average, they (participants) found sitting with their thoughts more enjoyable and engaging than they had anticipated. Previous studies suggest that thinking time can help people enhance creativity, solve problems, and find more meaning in life.”

Here are some strategies for how you can get better at hearing and leveraging the wise voice inside you.

  1. Find ways to get grounded. – Make it a practice to find time each day to be in the moment. Pay attention to your breath, do an activity that is rhythmic like knitting, meditate, do anything where you are focused on the activity. Often when your brain is working on routine tasks, it is on automatic. This allows for the pre-frontal cortex to work on higher level problems which is why you are more likely to hear your wise voice.
  2. Ask – Tell your wise self you need an answer to a question. Describe the problem or challenge. Write it out if it is helpful. Then ask for guidance. You can even put a timeframe for when you want an answer. Then let it go. Don’t think about the problem. The solution will bubble up at some unexpected moment.
  3. Notice – When an answer bubbles up, capture the moment. What were you doing or not doing? Did you notice any feelings in your body? Mull over the answer. Does it feel right? If you are not sure, test it. Try the answer out in your head like you would if you were buying a new mattress. Let it sit for a while and come back to it to see if it still resonates.
  4. Practice Boredom – Spend 5 minutes not focused on anything. Don’t look at your smart phone, make lists, or do a crossword puzzle. Just take in what is going on around you in a leisurely, unfocused way. Try it standing in a line, after a meal, in the middle of the work day. Instead of filling all your time with productive thinking, stop and pause and allow yourself to be bored. It takes some practice; even 5 minutes can seem like a long time. However, you will find your breathing and your brain slowing down and often the whisper of the small, wise voice inside you.

There is a wise voice in each one of us. However, in our busy and distracted world it can be hard to hear. Make a commitment to train yourself to listen for the answer that resonates with you. That is your wise voice speaking.

PS. Everyone struggles with Practicing Boredom the first time they try it.

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.