2001-08-18 / Columnists

The Inner Voice By Marilyn Gelfand

The Inner Voice By Marilyn Gelfand

How many times have you done the right thing? Often, when we do "what’s right", we expect the Universe to cheer and say I’m on your side. People on both sides of an issue, a war, a sporting event, a political debate all expect that God is on their side.

What we believe to be right comes out of what we personally value. If we value religious teachings, we will follow to the letter of the scripture. If we value getting something for nothing, we will con someone or steal. Each time we make a decision, our behavior is often a direct result of what we believe. What we believe is really our programming up until now. What I’ve learned in school, at home, on TV, from friends all contribute to this. Our values may change as we get older or as society changes or an experience occurs that makes us "see the light." So our values are our own opinion in a sense. Each person has his or her own beliefs. It’s a problem when we expect others to feel as we do.

Trusting in our instincts is not the same thing as doing what is right. Our instincts guide us almost out of the air giving us awareness of other people’s value systems, why certain events may occur, or on how to proceed. In the moment, our intuition expresses itself sometimes unbidden. Our instincts are sensing a bigger picture of reality encompassing what we don’t currently know consciously. Instincts are not impulses either. When we act impulsively, it is a reaction that has triggered something within. Being spontaneous may be following instincts, but not on impulse.

When we can recognize the difference between instincts and values or reactions, inside of ourselves, we realize that I need to take an extra moment and be sure that what I think is right needs to be considered to ensure that I’m not hurting someone else. I may think that meditation is the greatest activity in the world, for example, but forcing someone who is not interested in it to try it is not helping that person.

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