Inner wisdom means knowing you can trust your gut instinct. It means knowing which creative project to work on and which to park for the time being. It will give you the courage to keep working on your art even if it is doesn’t seem rational or your nearest and dearest think you are crazy. You just know that it is right for you.
Maybe you admire wise people, the ones who seem to find the answer within and who seem to have the courage of their conviction. Maybe you wish you could be more like them. Instead, you run around like a headless chicken!
The truth is you do have inner wisdom. You just need to learn how to access it and then how to trust it. If this seems ludicrous to you then the first step to developing and believing in your inner wisdom is to be willing to be open to the possibility that it is there.
This article has three suggestions of tried and tested ways to tap into your wisest self.
You might find that one works really well and another is not appealing. Remember that the one you are especially resistant to might be the most effective if you give it a go.
I started journaling in earnest when I discovered The Right to Write and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Prior to then, I had sporadically kept a journal but it was more about recording events rather than drilling into the inner workings of my life.
One of the exercises in the Right to Write is to have a conversation with your inner wisdom on the page.
For example, you might write:
I don’t know what to do about my friendship with Sarah.
And your inner wisdom might reply:
Tell me what’s bothering you about Sarah and let’s see if I can help.
I get resentful when I’m around her. We used to be such good friends but something is off now and I don’t what it is and what to do about it.
Then your inner wisdom will say something like:
The dynamic has changed between you. You want to spend more time improving yourself, studying and wondering if you can do a Psychology degree and Sarah doesn’t want anything to change. When she suggests meeting up for a drink or going shopping you go along with it out of habit but really you wished you could spend that time reading.
If you let your hand move across the page it is amazing what your life will tell you.
I frequently have a conversation with my inner wisdom like this. If I am struggling to make a decision about something, whether it is about a lofty goal or whether to go to a yoga class on Friday morning, I have this conversation on the page.
I find that I can quickly get to the nub of what is really going on and make a decision. Most importantly, it is a decision I can live with, act on and be at peace with. Then I no longer vacillate around in circles wasting my precious mental energy. I can decide, act and move on.
2) Prayer and meditation
An effective way to get in touch with your higher self and inner wisdom is through a regular prayer or mediation routine. I have practised Buddhism for over 30 years and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day. If this is something that interests you, you can read more by clicking here.
There are also many places that you can find out about mindfulness and apps that will give you guided meditations.
I love my daily Buddhist practice. Every morning and evening I spend between 10 and 30 minutes doing my chanting. It helps me to feel strong inside and lifts my head above my day to day worries to a point where I see them from a more positive and hopeful perspective. Sometimes insights come to me while I am chanting or it puts me in the right rhythm where I “co-incidentally” come across something I need as I am going about my daily life. The benefit of this process is that I have developed the courage to not accept second best for my life.
Prayer or meditation can take many forms, and it doesn’t have to be about religion. For example, maybe there is an activity that you do religiously like going swimming twice a week or running every morning. You don’t feel right if you don’t do it.
Physical activity can be meditative, it helps you take your mind away from your current stressors and focus on the present moment. Many a time I have returned for a walk and have had a clearer head about what needs to be done.
3) Using your posture to make a decision
This is an exercise I learned many years ago on an NLP course and I find it an excellent “in the moment” way of making a decision. No tools or paper are required.
You will need a couple of minutes where you can stand in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. (A toilet cubicle will do just fine if that is most private place for you right now.)
The exercise involves thinking of a time when you spent money wisely and another time when you spent it badly and had regrets.
Imagine a time when you spent a fairly large sum of money but it was absolutely the right thing to do. Perhaps you splashed out on a handbag that you loved and it lasted for years. Perhaps it was a course which was a sizeable investment but from which you have never looked back. Or perhaps it was on a smaller item which was an extravagance but nonetheless brought you great happiness and value.
Think back to the moment of making that purchase and notice how you are standing. Are you leaning forward or backward? Do you stand with your weight on one side or the other? Where are your hands and arms? Do you have any feelings that are playing out in a physical sensation?
Now think of a time when you spent a sum of money but it was a bad choice. You had doubts at the time but went ahead anyway. Perhaps it was an expensive pair of boots that you loved but the heel was just that bit too high to be comfortable. Perhaps it was going on holiday with a friend when you were unsure that you would get on well and it turned out to be a nightmare.
When spending was a bad choice, you soon realised, if not immediately, that you had wasted your money and you shouldn’t have done it.
Again, think of that moment of purchase and pay attention to how you are standing. Where is your weight? How is your posture? What is the physiology of how you are standing?
How is it different from the above posture when you had made a good spending decision?
When I think of a good decision my weight is slightly bent forward. When I think of a bad choice I am standing upward and tilting back ever so slightly. I can feel the tightness and pinch of the backwards tilt in my lower back. It is a completely different stance from when I am making a good decision.
Now that you know these two postures you can use them to access any decision, financial or otherwise. When you think about what needs to be done or what option to take, how do you stand? Is it in your good or your bad pose? If it is your good pose, then go ahead and follow through on the decision. If you are in your bad pose, don’t. Think it through a bit more or say No.
I use this technique all the time. You can do it anywhere about anything. Just stand up and see where your body goes. Then pay heed to what your body is telling you.
You can build trust in your inner wisdom
Trusting your inner wisdom is something that develops gradually. I remember an occasion many years ago when I had made a bad romantic decision and was talking to one of my very wise Buddhist friends.
He said that sometimes we lose our inner compass so we have to practise using it again. He encouraged me to chant about small decisions such as what to have for dinner or what to wear tomorrow so I could rehearse using and trusting my inner wisdom. Then as I built up a habit of checking all my choices, no matter how mundane, I would naturally make wiser choices on the more important stuff too.
Have fun exploring these ways of accessing your inner wisdom. You have all the resources that you need within you. You just need to find the best way to listen to your wiser self.
Now I’d love to hear from you
How do you access your inner wisdom? How do you know to trust it? Are you sometimes frightened to trust it?