NOTE: This is Part 2 of the 2-part series on ‘opinions’. Part 1 was about other people’s opinions which you can find here, and this part is about your own opinions and your inner voice.
Although there are many different opinions that surround us, from the opinions of our parents to the opinions of our local newspaper, there is one set of opinions which we listen to the most – our own.
We treat our own opinions in high regard and value them more than most other things in our lifetime. But how valuable are they? And how well do they stack up when we’re presented with a different alternative?
Our Opinions Are Like Everyone Else’s
Though we may treat our opinions as sacred, and we may refuse to change them even when presented with evidence to the contrary, they are anything but sacred. Our own opinions follow exactly the same system as everyone else’s opinions do – they are forged out of beliefs, whether limiting or empowering, and they are comprised of our experiences.
For example, if my opinion of you was that you were lazy, then that is all I’d know about you. But that only tells part of the story – you may be active and passionate about something else which I’m not aware of. I also may say that you were lazy because you didn’t meet a deadline, but perhaps you weren’t able to meet that deadline. Yet, if I form an opinion of you as ‘lazy’ then that is what will stick.
As I mentioned in Part 1, other people’s opinions can affect us in a variety of ways. Our own opinions can have the same effects on others – this can sometimes create a ‘limit-chain’, where the opinions of one person have a negative effect on someone else.
This affected person then passes on limiting behaviour through their own opinions, and negative beliefs are passed from one to another like a chain effect. So even though we value our own opinions, everybody else does the same with their own.
The Difference Between Your Opinions And Your Inner Voice
Like everybody having their own set of opinions, we also have our inner voice.
An inner voice is unique to each person – it is formed from a relationship between that person’s subconscious mind, and their conscious mind. That’s a very basic interpretation, but the key difference that separates our opinions from our inner voice is that our opinions are formed in our conscious mind, and the inner voice is formed in our subconscious mind.
The inner voice serves to guide you to your ideal life, whatever that may be. It’s different for each of us, and it may even be different to what you think it is now. The inner voice also helps you to forgive others, to love others and yourself unconditionally, and to take the necessary actions to help yourself and others.
In other words, the inner voice serves to help. But our opinions don’t always help us. Many of our opinions are negative, and seek to either harm ourselves or others. They are also based ‘in the moment’ – they can easily and quickly change from positive to negative, and vice-versa, depending on new experiences.
Our inner voice isn’t as ‘flimsy’ as that. It stays with us throughout our lives, and is focused only on helping. But even though our own inner voice is there to help us, we still choose to listen to our damaging opinions. We may not even be aware that we have an inner voice.
Why We Prefer Our Opinions
Our opinions have been with us ever since we first learned to think for ourselves.
As we developed our first stages of our personality, we learned to think for ourselves, to understand what we wanted and why we wanted it, and to take the initiative. From this, our opinions began to form.
Our opinion of our mother, for example, could have developed from ‘person who gives me food’ to ‘person who doesn’t always give me food, even though I ask for it’. Our opinion of our father could have developed from ‘person who stops me crying’ to ‘person who sometimes gives me a toy if I scream too much’. We learn to trust these opinions that we form.
But although our opinions serve us well, and we learn to avoid certain things that do us harm (such as a hot stove or a pair of scissors), we also learn to ignore the natural instinct that we are born with. We ignore that voice inside of us that tells us where to go and what to do, and we instead listen to our opinions that prevent us from going somewhere because “Mommy said that’s a bad place”.
We begin to trust others over ourselves, and our opinions reinforce this.
Today, after many years of ignoring the inner voice, you may have come to forget what it sounds like. Your opinions which tell you what to do and how to think may have taken over. All this may have come about because you’re used to doing what you’ve been doing. To ‘trust your instincts’ may even sound stupid.
But in order to escape the grip of ‘opinions’, it’s what needs to be done.
How To Listen To Your Inner Voice
It may be near impossible at first to try to find your inner voice – it was for me when I first attempted it. But be patient – growth will be slow, but it will happen. Here are 3 pieces of advice which can help you listen to your inner voice:
- Listen to your body
There’s a reason why the term ‘gut instinct’ exists. Our instinct, which is another name for our inner voice, can often be felt in our ‘gut’, or our stomach. If something doesn’t feel right, then we may start feeling anxious or uncomfortable, or we may get the sensations of ‘butterflies’ in our stomach. That’s completely fine – this could be your body telling you that something is wrong.
Our body is an excellent way to discover whether our inner voice feels good or bad about something. If something feels right, then our body will feel more energetic and ‘light’. We may feel that we want to ‘jump’ into that which is making us happy. The opposite is true of something that our inner voice feels bad about – we may feel drained or lethargic and be reluctant to take action.
Our inner voice uses our body to tell us what is good and bad. Listen to your body.
- Take the moral high ground
Whenever we must make a decision about something, and we haven’t a clue how to proceed, it’s good to do what the inner voice advises and take the ‘moral high ground’.
As mentioned, the inner voice is there to help. If we must decide between a path that serves us but hinders others, and a path that hinders us but serves others, then it’s useful to think what is morally best in that situation.
It may be that, by choosing to sacrifice your own gain for the sake of others, you open up new possibilities for yourself in the future. Yet if you were to choose your own gain, then you may be harming yourself as well as others.
If you aren’t helping anyone, then you aren’t listening to your inner voice. Think on what the best moral action is and see how that feels. If it feels good, then go for it.
Finally, it’s important to have faith in yourself and in others.
When we trust our inner voice, we trust it to guide us through the bad times as well as the good. But to place our trust in something that we have never used before may seem foolish and unnatural, and that’s completely understandable. No-one wants to give up their safety.
But the inner voice is designed for our best interests, even though it may not always appear to be that way. Sometimes, we must risk in order to come out better off. But if we don’t trust our inner voice, then we’d never experience these benefits.
Life presents challenges, and there is no way to get away from them. Our inner voice can guide us through the challenges and help us grow in a way that opinions can’t. But in order to listen to it, we must trust, be patient, and abandon our reliance on our opinions.