It is exciting to see so many influential people in the world talking about the importance of intuition and inner wisdom. From movie stars to CEOs, we are becoming more aware of the power of our inner wisdom and the importance of tuning in to hear it. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” the power of thinking without thinking is an analytical persons dream for understanding intuition and inner wisdom, thinking of your brain like a super computer and your gut like an alarm bell used to notify you of information your sub conscious has processed but your conscious mind has not had quite got there yet.
Since the dawn of humanity, our thinking has evolved, our brains continues to pass down wisdom in our DNA, code that can be unlocked by stimulus and experience, from language to personality to gender identity, the code provides our being with programs to access to live our purpose. Perhaps the game of life is how well we use these programs to live our why (I love that Mark Twain quote, “the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why”) – but in the quest for our ultimate why, we can have a lot of fun unlocking the code and unweaving the rainbow in understanding our inner workings and the people around us. Learning to react with curiosity instead of defence, learning to come from a place of love instead from a place of fear, Learning to override code that doesn’t serve our purpose, learning to listen to our inner wisdom, each of these lessons are just as important as finding out your ultimate ‘why’.
So what does ego have to do with this? The psychoanalysis definition of ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. The negative or unhealthy side of ego is egotism; conceit; self-importance. Healthy ego creates a healthy perception and reality – the human experience is a fluid exchange of energy and experiences designed to enable us on our quest for our ultimate why and learning our life lessons. The unhealthy ego prevents us from unlocking code and lessons – almost like a bug in the code, the mind distorts reality and personal identity and the quest for why eludes the person as they battle in a reality that leads them further and further away from their ultimate purpose.
To stay on track is simple, when you find yourself engaged in battles that are causing discomfort, tune in to your inner wisdom and tune your personal identity – tune yourself a healthy ego. When we are in tune our “I” or self and thinking, feeling, willing are in line with our ultimate why and suddenly we engage with our human experience in a totally different way, even if we don’t have al the answers yet, we are playing the right tunes in our life symphony.
Your inner wisdom is always there, it provides you with clues through your gut feel, your emotions, your will but here is the tricky part, your ego uses the same distribution channels to get your attention! This is why sometimes we come off track and it can take a real ‘wake up call’ for us to realise we are out of tune. For the musicians out there, that moment when you realise your instrument is out of tune! For the painters, when you realise your paintbrushes need a good soak, for the sports people, when you realise your muscles are tight and in need of a good stretch, your inner wisdom requires constant tuning and the more you listen, the louder it gets! The fastest route to inner wisdom is through meditation practice. We call it practice because the real results (just like with music, art, sports!) come from practice and just like these other pursuits, the more we practice, the better we get, the new skills we unlock! Other ways to tune into your intuition include journalling, creating, walking in nature (or somewhere visually attractive and relatively quiet), aquariums, art galleries and zoos all count! Swimming, running, yoga are all other wonderful activities that allow you to tune in.
So how can you tell the difference between ego and intuition? The problem is, just as they use the same distribution channels, they often sound the same and use the same language. Many years ago, when I was suffering from anxiety my ‘mean girl’ as Melissa Ambrossini calls her would stream negative and worrysome thoughts through my brain, like a live stream on twitter with the #sarahsucksateverything with multiple sources typing furiously away at the keyboard and boy was it intense! The problem was, these thoughts didn’t look different to positive thoughts, they weren’t a different colour, they didn’t sound different! So I had to practice tuning in and categorising my thoughts ‘good ones’ ‘not so good ones’ ‘ego driven advice’ ‘inner wisdom’ (the good stuff) and over time, I learnt to do this without even having to pay attention to it! Suddenly the pearls of wisdom would present – crystal clear and sparkling in my mind (hello inner wisdom) but every now and then, particularly if I am sleep deprived, feeling stressed or depleated, my ego takes to the keyboard again and I have tune back in to make sure I am hashtagging my thoughts again #pearlsofwisdom #egodrivenfearmongering
The quotes you see (memes galore) flooding people’s instagrams and facebooks are actually doing your brain more good than you realise. Visually seeing positive thoughts is a wonderful way to stimulate this sort of thinking. Try it yourself! Find some quotes that help trigger the kind of #happythoughts that serve you and bring more of these into your world.
If you want an exercise to help you tune your inner wisdom (and identify your inner mean girl/mean boy) then try this:
Grab a journal and lots of coloured highlighters
Find a quiet space where you can relax
Focus on your breathing and ask yourself a few questions
Examples: What am I afraid of right now? What am I worried I won’t achieve? What am I embarrassed about? What do I love about myself? What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me? What makes me angry? Write fluidly and express as much as you can. How do you feel about your week? How do you feel about that meeting coming up? What do you think you need to do next?
Choose a different colour to categorise your responses, you might choose pink for love, Blue for anger, Red for Happiness – it doesn’t matter what colour you choose, what matters is going back through your responses and categorising them. Now put a star next to those that are coming from a place of fear and underline the ones that are coming from a place of love.
Now look back, even though the ink was the same on the paper, the responses all evoke different colours – imagine if you could experience your thoughts like this? If you could clearly see that the thoughts you were experiencing about the upcoming meeting are frightened and fear based, these thoughts are not coming from a place of love, these thoughts are not from a place of inner wisdom. But the thoughts about the volunteering opportunity you have coming up are both happy and coming from a place of love, these are good thoughts! Encourage your mind to bring forth more of these!
Start a gratitude journal and write down the things you are grateful for each day, highlight these and categorise them in the same way you categorise your loving positive thoughts.
Just by tuning into your thoughts, you can create a new reality, you master a new way of thinking, you master a new way of feeling, you master a new way of being. Science is there to back up why this works, from the neuroscience of gratitude to the neuroscience of meditation, we know that by tuning into our inner wisdom (and happy grateful thoughts) we feel better, we live better, we are happier!
“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” – Lao Tzu