2003-08-01 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand
The Inner Voice by Marilyn Gelfand

These days we have so many different issues of concern with many different sides to each one. From the police and community deciding on quality of life for us, to war and elections in the outside world to our own daily lives, we have to think about how we must act. 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 this present moment. 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. It’s also tough when others demand us to respond as they do. If we don’t believe what’s important in their eyes, it might take tremendous strength to hold one’s ground.

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 we can be safe even when dealing with the unknown. We need to take an extra moment of awareness and be sure that what we think is right is the action we choose calmly from within us, and we want to be careful in checking that we are not unnecessarily hurting someone else. For example, I may think that meditation is the greatest activity in the world, but forcing someone who is not interested in it to try it is not helping that person. If anything, it may cause an antagonism since you are forcing something down someone else’s throat. We must be careful to ensure that we are operating through a cleansed spirit within ourselves.

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