My inner voice is a five year old – is yours?

“Listen to your inner voice”  “Everything will happen”.

Magic!

Duh, why didn’t I think of that?

Just listen to my inner voice. Ignore the bills, the responsibilities, any semblance of adult realities.

Life involves balancing reality with your inner voice

Photo by Andrew Rice on Unsplash

Long term continual stress suffocates your inner voice to the point where you might listen and it’s not there. Or maybe it says to take a nap and then run away – far far away. Or it can’t make a sound because its vocal cords haven’t been used in years.

My inner voice is a five year child who has diner magically appear every night, and no bills to pay. Yours might be too, and that’s fine.

The inner child has more to teach us than we realize, and channeling their innocent, stress-free outlook on life can be useful.

Think back:

When you were five, what did you want to be when you “grow up”? Something fantastic and “impossible” – space cowboy, a character from your favorite movie, a time traveller?

I wanted to be a pioneer librarian.

In the small stretch of forest behind my home, I scavenged for “food” – bits of bark and inedible berries, built a “cabin” -complete with a fireplace made from an abandoned car part that vaguely resembled a wooden insert, and read every book I could get my hands on.

We never really grow up. Not truly, not as long as we can still dream.

Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

But we do change.

Studies are now showing that we are a completely different person – cells and personality – at seventy than we are at twenty. And that’s a good thing. Can you imagine your adult life surrounded by annoying, mean teenagers who just never grow up? (I’m cringing just writing this).

Your inner child is akin to your morality, which is more fixed than your personality.

Understanding the inner child – that inner voice telling you that something is wrong, or that you should pick option B – even if you have no idea why, can lead to breakthroughs or doors you never thought possible. When people talk about things “happening” without giving how it will happen, that is what they mean.

Our brains think and experience on so many levels. What we are consciously thinking is just the tip of the iceberg to our brain (and to our inner voice).

As you go to cross the street your brain is analyzing every other time you’ve crossed the street, looking for “hidden” dangers. The sports car with the muffler revving his engine triggers danger more than the beat up sedan without tinted windows. Minivans are a toss up. Every other time you interacted with a sports car, a broken sedan, and a minivan – being cut off on the highway, having to slam the brakes as they run a stop sign, almost getting run over in a parking lot by the lady in the minivan paying more attention to her kids than you – they are all being weighed against one another. Millions of synapses firing deep in your frontal cortex. Standing on the sidewalk, looking both ways, all you experience is a “nah, wait for the next opening”.

The difference between us and the child we once were is that we no longer notice the internal analysis.

We have enough data points to coast on autopilot – relying on lessons learned and repeated experiences to calculate against. As a child you don’t have those data points. You would have debated with yourself about what was the right thing to do because your brain can’t do it for you.

Knowing – really knowing, not just reacting – what the inputs are lets you weigh the good and the bad not just against your current life, but the life you want to have. Your brain got you where you are today, using inputs and weighing their pros and cons according to a system you made up years ago. But, if you don’t want to be where you are …… why would you use that same system?

The next time you feel your chest clench and your gut drop, try to listen to what’s happening inside. Act like a five year old – the choice you need to make is a brand new decision and everything is relevant.

This does two things:

  1. It forces you to notice what would otherwise be hidden – every little thing that affects your decision
  2. You pay attention to WHY you are making decisions, not just the decision itself

Blind or habitual decision making has its place, but being aware of those habits is key.

Our inner voice may be hidden in a closet, or just flexing its muscles: the more we can articulate why we are doing what we are doing (even if we don’t like doing it), the better we are able to speak in the language of our inner five year old.

Our inner voice is more or less fixed – right and wrong are ingrained early, as are some big assumptions about life and the way the world works. We ignore its guidance at our peril (and that includes locking it in a closet in an attempt to be more like you “should” – in whatever capacity that means for you). Taking the promotion with the hope that you will “learn to love” the job, or even tolerate it, when your gut says otherwise, is never going to happen.

If you have locked your inner voice away – for whatever reason – let it feel safe enough to come out again.

Start small. Ask it what shirt to wear, what book to read, what class to take. Enjoy how it feels. Listen when it starts to speak. Ask why. Trust it, but don’t lean on it too much too soon.

Photo by Paul Jarvis on Unsplash

When you feel ready, analyze the next consequential decision using your inner voice like a five year old. Consciously take the inputs and come to a conclusion that will sit easy on your heart and mind.

Ignore the claims of magic – everything worth doing involves a bit of work. Life is no different.

There is no should. There are only decisions made and paths taken – and paths yet to take. Your inner voice does not exist alone. It exists with you and alongside you. Balance life with the inner compass and be aware of it’s North even if you have to go East in order to keep everything afloat.

When the inner five year old is happy, you have the energy to dive into the next step.

Ready. Set. Go.

Share if you think we should listen to our inner voice more!