2004-01-16 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand
The Inner Voice by Marilyn Gelfand

How good are you at trusting in your own instincts?

Now that the new year is upon us, and many of us become conscious of our own behavior, even if only for a little while, I decided to pay attention to myself.

I realize that I don’t always follow my own intuition. If a family member has a strong opinion, or an authority figure or expert says something, often I’ll defer. I noticed that I always had to suffer the consequences of backtracking because invariably my inner voice was guiding me in the best direction for me. I’ve decided to become very alert to when I do this. As much as possible, I realize I can assume responsibility for an action if that is what I believe.

As an experiment, you may want to pay attention to how you make decisions. Do you go along with the strong voice? Are you a fence straddler unsure of yourself? It is not easy to truly follow your own instincts even if you know that it is the way to go. Outside factors are powerful, and often it is easier to let others do the work. Sometimes we may not even realize that we ourselves can assume responsibility for an action that is not a common one for ourselves. We sometimes chart out domains of who is in charge of what activity, and then don’t bother changing that when necessary.

You may realize you trust yourself in certain areas of your life, but not in others. Sometimes it is difficult to make decisions when we are more emotionally involved. Also for some of us, there is a difference when making decisions just about ourselves or about the lives of others. It is good to pay attention to how you arrive at the actions that you take. It will stop impulsiveness, impatience or emotional confusion, and instead allow you to wait until you clearly feel or sense what is in your best interest. Only with experience does the value of instinctual information really allow one to trust in it even if everyone else says something different.

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