Let Your Inner Voice Speak Up!
In my last blog entry, You are the Expert on You, I talked about navigating the plethora of health information we are exposed to, and how to figure out which advice to follow. One of the keys to knowing what diet, exercise or stress management plan is right for you is to listen to your own body, or inner voice, and see how it can guide you in figuring out what direction to take with your wellbeing. This is no small task. This not only requires being able to tune into that inner voice, but it requires tuning out the voices of media, friends and family as well.
Culturally, we are raised to rely on scientific information, experts and objective evidence to guide our choices - especially when it comes to health care. In addition, we put great weight on the opinions of those around us when drawing conclusions about what is right for our own wellbeing. But, this rarely gives us a fully informed perspective. The subjective experiential information we receive from our emotions and our body can complete a unique picture of wellness for each of us. So, the work is really to figure out how to tap into that voice and decipher what out own bodies have to say about what is right for us. Yes, this takes time and effort but commonly, the information that is gained from stopping to listen can be invaluable.
I use a few techniques to help me tune into that voice. Some days, simple journaling or quiet breathing exercises is enough to help me hear what my body is asking for. Other days, I need more structure. A Body Scan is a popular exercise that can be done to gently relax and check in with every part of yourself to see if anything comes to the surface as needing more attention.Another favorite is using a writing exercise called Dialogue with a Symptom. This is a great way to open up a written conversation with yourself that can be 5 or 45 minutes long- whatever you decide! The dialogue can be helpful in asking yourself what you need to address a certain symptom, issue or even just for guidance as to what would be supportive for you outside of what the latest health magazine tells you.
I also love it because the conversation can continue from one writing session to another so that when its time to write again, it can feel like picking up a conversation with an old acquaintance.
There are so many more ways to tap into this voice and it is great to learn a few that work for you so that you can have options, depending on your mood, your time available and what are you are looking for guidance in. I believe this voice should take the lead and have the final say, but it is reasonable to integrate external input from trusted sources as well, so that your information is balanced between intuition, information and awareness. At the end of the day, your wellness path must feel right to you, and that can only be clear if you listen to your own voice.
The hints and cues of emotions and physical feelings are always there, it is just whether or not we decide to stop and listen to honor the message that they are giving us. I am guilty of it too- a subtle background feeling of fatigue or anxiousness is easy for me to ignore, but will only increase until I stop and check in with myself to see what message they are trying to get me to pay attention to. In the end, I am always glad I took the time to listen.
Have a great weekend and maybe take a minute to tune in and see what your inner voice has to share with you.