THINK ABOUT IT: who’s talking?

This THINK ABOUT IT has been something I’ve been working on personally since last November. What I have learned over the past several months is that there are two parts to myself, one sits just within my right ear and the other resides deep within my core. Since discovering these two different thought sources, I have felt like a referee or judge listening to two lawyers debate. Before this, the lawyer that shouted the loudest usually got my attention and vote. But I’ve been learning to listen to both arguments calmly and then choosing to pick the point of view I know to be true.

This is rather revolutionary for me because up until this point, my default mode of existence assumed that these two voices were coming from the same source: from my head or “myself.” Now that I’ve been able to really dissect the two characters, I’ve been able to more easily identify which one is speaking and what their motivations are. In turn, I’m now better able to make decisions that are aligned with what I really want, rather than short-term satisfaction followed by remorse or condemnation. This practice is a lot like meditation for sure, though I haven’t spent a moment on a mat or cushion – it’s all been done throughout my daily life.

Here’s what I’ve learned about each of the voices:

The Voice in My Ear – Otherwise known as my Ego

This voice is by far the most chatty of the two. It whispers to me thoughts that it thinks are “good” and “bad.” For most of my life I unconsciously believed this voice was the wisest of the two lawyers because it was louder and closer to my brain. If it feels closer to my thought process than it must be wise, right?

Wrong.

Earlier this week it struck me that perhaps this voice feels as though it’s in my ear because it repeats a lot of beliefs and fears that I hear from society or people in my life. So quite literally everything I’ve heard is then sitting just within the ear waiting to repeat itself to me when I’m in the midst of a tough decision.

This voice is hard to ignore because it is actually very “smart.” It has tons of facts, statistics, personal examples, and thrives on information. It is also the source of almost all the thoughts in my life that begin with the phrases “I think,” “I feel,” “I should,” “What if,” “I fear,” “I deserve,” “I want.”

Those phrases for most of my life have been powerful and persuasive enough for me to follow them quite a bit of the time. In the past, when one of those trump cards came out of the Voice in my Ear, the debate was usually over. But when looking retrospectively on the outcomes of those decisions, they usually were lined with guilt, inadequacy, or disappointment. The short-term reward was generally high, while the long term result left me feeling a bit empty inside.

The Voice inside my Gut – Otherwise known as my Spirit, Connection, or Intuition

On the other hand, the voice inside my core has been a much more mysterious character in my life. Rather than fight with my Ego and participate in the shouting match, my Gut often decided to sit those arguments out. Though I’ve always been one to follow my Gut on really big decisions like where to live, what my purpose is, and how to grow my business, I usually ruled my daily decisions in favor of the Ego. But the more I’ve been able to tap into this well of wisdom, the better my life has become.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my intuition: It doesn’t “think.” Which is probably the number one reason my ego has been able to win so many small battles. As a society, we are trained to think and make “informed” decisions. And anything that doesn’t use a fact or emotion to back up it’s argument has a snowball’s chance in hell at surviving in a courtroom. But here’s the Gut’s magic sauce (ew, that sounds kind of gross, but stay with me here), the gut simply knows what to do.

That’s it.

The gut knows what the right thing to do is.

Rather than spew information like the Ego’s fountain, the gut is a deep well of knowledge. It’s kind of like the saying by Henry David Thoreau that I ironically chose as my high school senior quote:

“Once I forgot all I learned, then I began to know.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Doesn’t this sound amazing? I’m sure some of you have also recognized the knowing power of our Guts. But often, we continue to default to the Ego’s argument for another reason:

Sometimes the Gut doesn’t know the correct outcome to a situation at a specific moment, sometimes it’s advice is to wait patiently for the answer to be revealed.

Yep, I’ll say it again:

Sometimes the Gut doesn’t know the correct outcome to a situation at a specific moment, sometimes it’s advice is to wait patiently for the answer to be revealed.

That’s where life gets uncertain, uneasy, uncomfortable. I get itchy.

And I end up rushing to the Ego’s facts and figures to make a decision, because all I want is to control the outcome to this situation or that problem. I want to be attached to a certain conclusion which I “think” is in my own short-term best interest or at least take a vacation from the uncomfortable.

But, I always “know” the right thing to do is wait patiently for the Gut.

So what do I do when there is a Ego/Gut debate?

So now, during my Ego/Gut arguments I ask myself : “What do I think?” And “What do I know?” I let both sides make their statements and then, I do my best to stick with the knowing. Though it often isn’t my favorite decision which will lead to a sense of (sick) satisfaction or short-term happiness, it does leave me inevitably peaceful.

And you know what? I’ve also come to do a bit of prayer when I’m having a particularly hard time with something. I ask that the volume on the knowing gets turned up so loudly that it drowns the thoughts that are shouting from my ear. I ask that it overshadows all the fears and leaves me with no choice but to follow the right path. And whether you believe in a higher power or not, I think the simple act of asking to hear your Gut more clearly also helps you intentionally pay closer attention to that source within yourself.

In summary, I think what all of this really boils down to is the question: Do I want what’s in my best interest or self-interest?

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  1. Denise

    very well said. the ego is very powerful – yet, I feel the gut is our true self. Love your prayer. May need to even copy it down. thanks!

  2. Niki

    I became away of this separation after reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” book – once you make the distinction between the two you realize how many decisions were made for the wrong reasons! Great post Jess ūüôā

  3. Whitney

    Fantastic post, Jess. I have been trying to verbalize this duality of my decision making for a long time and you did it perfectly. Thank you!

  4. Piper

    It’s like you’re talking about me – that’s exactly how I feel!! Thanks for verbalizing it and making sense of it. I call mine the inner voice – and she can shout very, very loud! I’m slowly learning to let me instinct and gut tell me things. This was so great to read!

  5. Anna

    Beautifully written. What you wrote is something I am aware of but unable to verbalize.

  6. The good old (and never ending) fight betweeen Ego and Gut…
    Thanks for this post! I have had conversations in my head for so long: conversations between me, my Ego and my Gut – but I never knew which is which. I would like to learn to differentiate between them, and dare to listen to – the sometimes irrational – ideas of my Gut.

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