Episode 35: Telling Myself to Listen
In today’s episode (part two of a two part series), I’m gonna share some tips on cultivating your inner guidance.
HONORABLE MENTIONS IN TODAY’S EPISODE
A couple of months ago, I sent out a survey to the Honey Bunny Inner Circle, my gorgeous gang of go-getters.
I asked them what they’d like to know more about when it comes to their self-love journey.
I can’t tell you how many responses I got from women who want to know how to trust themselves, how to make better decisions, how to decrease the amount of confusion in their lives, how to lean into their inner guidance, how to strengthen their intuition.
Over and over again. The same response. I almost started suspecting that it was the same person submitting the same message over and over again. That’s how many times this episode was requested.
It was a resounding cry from my tribe to learn how to tap into a fundamental, underused and deeply mistrusted part of themselves.
So here I am answering the call.
In Episode 34 of FTFRWLC, we talked about what exactly is your inner guidance and why this internal system is highly underdeveloped. If you haven’t checked that out yet, please do.
Today we are going to jam on three of my best practices for strengthening your inner guidance:
1. Practice. Practice. Practice.
In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hour rule, which basically says that in order to achieve expertise in any skill, you gotta practice the skill correctly for approximately 10,000 hours.
10,000 hours is a lot of time to spend practicing.
Oh, and I want to also highlight the word “correctly.” When I started doing Ashtanga yoga, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even research this style of yoga before my first practice.
I had just started working for Universal Latino and they had an office on South Beach. So I googled South Beach yoga studios and looked for one that had a really early class offering. 6 AM? Sweet. Sign me up.
I walked into Miami Life Center at 5:45 am and signed up for one month of unlimited practice. Walked into class. Tim Feldmann asked me, “Have you ever done this style of yoga before?” I said, “No,” and we got started.
That day he took me through Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B. I was hot, sweaty, terrible and embarrassed. I went home and cried.
I think in those moments you’re at a fork in the road and you get to decide which way you’re going. For me, I was like, “I suck at this and I’m going to keep going. I’m not gonna give up.”
Plus, I knew that I’d be doing this a lot since they recommended that you practice a minimum of 3 times a week (6 times a week being the Ashtanga standard).
I decided to let my chaturanga be shitty. (Chaturanga is the push-up pose that you do in any vinyasa flow class.) I was terrible at it. I didn’t feel like I had the arm strength to pull it off. But with every chaturanga that sucked, I told myself, “Hey, it sucked. I got thru it. I will literally do this a gazillion times in my yoga practice, so eventually I will get better.” And eventually I did.
I’d say that the first four months of my practice didn’t count towards the 10,000 hour rule. I literally started from nothing and worked my way up.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED AROUND MONTH FOUR.
My body and my mind said, “Ahh, okay. I kinda get it.” I got better. Stronger. More flexible. Less freaked out about the whole thing.
Ashtanga yoga is super intense. You’re in a room with all these yogi bad asses doing some gnarly poses. If you want to be successful, you can’t look around at what others are doing and where they are in their practice. First off, you don’t know what it took for them to reach that point and you don’t know where they are in terms of their 10,000 hours. You keep bringing your focus back to your mat and what’s going on there. Over and over again.
THE SAME GOES FOR YOU.
If you’ve spent years or even decades of not honoring or strengthening your inner guidance, when you do finally tune in, you may get a very faint signal or none at all. Remember your inner guidance is a muscle and if you haven’t been using it, it has experienced some serious atrophy.
You can’t beat yourself up about the past. It’s gone and you’re not getting that time back. In fact, that’s the opposite of how you need to be treating yourself.
Think about the approach you’d take with a little stray kitten. You wouldn’t yell at it or throw a stick at it, if you wanted it to come to you. Nah, that’s a surefire way of getting the kitten to head in the opposite direction. Nah, you speak sweetly to it. “Here, kittie kittie. I’ve brought you some milk. Please let me hold you and take care of you.” You coax it. Pet it. Love it.
That’s how you’ve got to treat yourself during this process of strengthening your inner guidance.
THE FIRST PIECE OF PRACTICE IS REALLY GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO PRACTICE.
In the last episode, we talked about your fear of making a mistake is one of the reasons why your inner guidance is underdeveloped. So you do nothing because in doing nothing you achieve your goal of never making a mistake.
I want you to remember that taking no action is an action in itself and it’s no longer an option for you.
In fact, your new mantra is “I am unavailable for that ish.”
AS YOU BEGIN PRACTICING LISTENING TO YOUR INNER GUIDANCE, START BY MAKING SMALL DECISIONS.
This is especially helpful if you’re a woman who has a hard time deciding on what she wants to eat for dinner. Like that Notebook meme that’s floating around on the Internet where Noah is asking Allie what she wants and she keeps shaking her head saying, “It’s not that simple.” Yeah, this is for you, boo. No more of that.
Get in the habit of asking for your inner guidance’s opinion in everything (and I do mean everything).
“Hey, IG, what do you think I should wear today?” Go with the first thing that pops into your mind without questioning it. If the idea of wearing your bright red blazer that you love but you hardly wear because it is so llamativo (llamativo meaning that it makes you stand out) pops into your head, girl, wear that blazer. “Hey, IG, what sounds good for lunch?” Ceviche. Bam. “Hey, IG, should I go to the gym after work?” Nope. Check out Pure Barre. Done.
The point of this exercise is to honor what comes up for you.
So often we get an answer and we spend lots of time trying to dissuade ourselves or convince ourselves of what we “should” do. If living like this terrifies you, try this out for a week. If that’s too much, three days. It’s all about trusting your gut and you’re never going to be able to do that unless you start giving yourself a chance to do that.
START KEEPING TRACK OF THE IDEAS THAT POP INTO YOUR HEAD, ESPECIALLY YOUR FANTASIES AND YOUR DAYDREAMS.
When I was a senior in college, I took a Marketing class. The only thing that I remember out of that class was a book recommendation: The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz.
In this book, they recommenD keeping a running list of your ideas, fantasies, etc. They called it a “Dest Quest,” which I believe is short for Destination Quest, but honestly I don’t remember.
That’s what I want you to do. Start your own Dest Quest. If the idea to go to culinary school keeps popping into your head, write that down every single time it occurs to you. There’s a reason it keeps coming up (and it may not literally be that you need to go to culinary school. Your inner guidance may be telling you to learn new recipes and try out different cuisines.)
So try that out. Keep track of the stuff that pops into your head. Then, after a week, take a look at the list and see if there are any themes, patterns, people, places, situations that keep reappearing on the list. That’s a clue from your inner guidance.
IT’S TIME TO START USING YOUR IMAGINATION.
When you were a kid, you were an imagination guru. You could transform clouds into dragons and pillows and blankets into a castle. Over time, those muscles weakened because you kept hearing the message, “Grow up. It’s time to be realistic.”
Let me tell you how important imagination is. Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." That’s how important your imagination is and it is one of the things that your inner guidance is genius at.
Recently I emailed the HBIC and explained to them that, as a life coach, I no longer give out homework.
Instead I give out get-to-dos.
A get-to-do, like the name suggests, is something that you actually look forward to doing. “I get to sleep late on Saturday. I get to have dinner with my bestie. I get to binge watch Pretty Little Liars today. Who is A?”
I wrote the following to them:
ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR FRI-YAY GET-TO-DO, HB?
Take out a sheet of paper. Open a Google Doc or a note on your phone. Set a timer for five minutes. Write out, in as much detail as possible, your ideal day. Include colors, smells, sights, sounds, activities (even sleeping late is an activity), foods, locations, etc. What are you wearing? What's your hair and make-up sitch? Who are you with?
Some things to keep in mind:
Remember specificity is your new best friend. The more details, the better (even the smallest of detail is welcome here).
This get-to-do is NOT about being realistic or practical. If you and Bae are having Taco Tuesday with Jay Z and Beyoncé, then the question is “What toppings are you adding to your tacos?” NOT “How would I ever make that happen?”
Invite your inner child to the party. Doodle it out. Rhyme it out. The sky’s the limit. The more you can tap into your creativity, the better.
Do this every Friday for the next six weeks. Each time you do this, take a moment to read what you’ve written over time. Notice any recurring themes, patterns, people, items, etc.
How can you start giving those things to yourself now?
Here are some examples.
Always doing something with your best friend? You haven't seen her in forevah. Girl, guess what you gotta do. Call your bestie and set up a play date.
Always at the beach, but you’re landlocked? Perhaps next Saturday, you find the nearest outdoor pool and get your swim on.
Always trying out a new restaurant but you're short on funds? Get on Pinterest and find a new recipe that looks yummy.
With this get-to-do, you’ll find a gazillion clues about what it is that your inner guidance is saying to you.
Try this out for the next six weeks and see what comes up for you. The point of this get-to-do is to strengthen your inner guidance muscles and imagination is a huge part of that. Imagination creates worlds that don’t exist and that’s the energy that we want to start tapping into right now.
2. Your body knows before you do.
I love buckets. Okay, so not the buckets that you use to mop. The ones that you use to plan. I’ve got my Lyric bucket, my fitness bucket, my bills bucket, my business bucket, my reading bucket, my healthy habits bucket. Girl, I be loving them buckets, honey. My sense is that you love them, too. I don’t have one giant to-do list. I have like 5011 buckets that are filled to the top. These buckets give me comfort that I am on top of things.
For a long time, I thought of myself in different buckets. Here’s my body bucket, my mind bucket, my soul bucket. I go to the gym for my body, school for my mind and church for my soul. Three little separate buckets. The doctor for my body, the therapist for my mind and the pastor for my soul.
But here’s the reality: my body, mind and soul are not in these nice little neatly labeled buckets. Nah, they’re literally here in this vessel that is me.
So it’s no wonder that when I’m stressed I feel it in my neck, shoulders and upper body. My mind is constantly communicating with my body. It’s no wonder that I can’t sleep when I’m worried. Or I feel so much relief after a good cry.
“EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY IS EAVESDROPPING ON YOUR THOUGHTS.” -- DEEPAK CHOPRA
There is no separation. God has created this gorgeously designed machine (for lack of a better word) that is the human being and we are some sophisticated creatures.
Everything (and I mean everything) is connected. Ya’ll know I love the book, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay.
In it, Louise writes, “I believe that we create every so-called illness in our body. The body, like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs. Our body is always talking to us; we just need to take the time to listen. Every cell within our body responds to every single thought we think and every word we speak. Continuous modes of thinking and speaking produce body behaviors and postures and “eases,” or dis-eases.”
I want to encourage you to take that with a grain of salt. Do your research. Consult your doctors. Form your own opinion. Don’t ever believe things just because your favorite person said them. Do your due diligence, boo.
That being said, I do think that there is a huge mind-body-soul connection that can’t be ignored when you’re thinking about strengthening your inner guidance.
According to an article on Oprah.com, “Research shows that our instincts often hit us first on a visceral level, telling us what we need to know well before our consciousness catches up.” For example, you feel a knot in your stomach, your heart races, your palms get sweaty, your knees feel weak, you feel like you got the wind knocked out of you.
THAT’S YOUR INNER GUIDANCE USING YOUR PHYSICAL BODY TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.
As you practice honoring and listening to your inner guidance, start tuning into what your body is saying. Believe me, your body is always speaking. If it’s Friday at 3 PM and your boss drops a project on your desk and you immediately feel a sinking feeling in your belly, don’t dismiss that. That’s your inner guidance saying, “HB, you gotta set some boundaries.”
Or if you feel a heaviness in your chest every time you talk to your boyfriend about getting married, that’s your inner guidance saying, “Yoo-hoo, HB. Over here. I’ve gotta tell you something and you should totally pay attention.”
Your body is wise, not just on a physical level, but a mental level, a soul level and it speaks. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes not so subtle. If you’re working 80 hour weeks and in a constant state of stress, your body is going to speak up and it’s going to try to get your attention. If you refuse to listen, it may go to drastic measures to give you a much needed wake up call.
If you’re disconnected from your body or you don’t know how to interpret what it’s saying, get to moving and watch what happens. Whether it’s doing yoga, Tai Chi, bellydancing, Zumba, jogging, get in the habit of moving your body, so that you can start to study it and learn its language.
Your new best practice from now on is to pay attention to what’s going on in your body, especially as you interact with other people, your surroundings, life itself.
If you haven’t used your inner guidance in a long time or ever, your body can really be helpful in establishing the connection to your internal GPS system.
3. Put some distance in your decision.
Let me tell you: it’s so much easier to tell other people what to do than to take a good, hard look at yourself. I can’t tell you how many people have given me unsolicited advice about everything under the sun (my business, my daughter, my body, etc). I know that, for the most part, they are really trying to be helpful, but my first thought is, “I wonder what their lives would be like if they focused that beautiful energy on themselves instead of giving me advice.”
Real talk: I’m guilty of it, too.
I’m a solution seeker by nature, so if one of my loved ones is going thru it, my first inclination is to start researching, advising, praying, contacting people, doing what I can to help out.
While it can be helpful, I do have to remind myself that every person on this earth has their own journey and I can’t rob people of their experience. Sometimes the best course of action is letting people live their lives, learn from their choices and get back up when they fall down. It’s hard and I’m learning.
I think that part of the reason why we humans have this tendency to look at the speck in other people’s eyes whilst (Tremendo tangent: I had to look up how to pronounce whilst -- what a word. I want to use it whenever I can) ignoring the plank in our own is because sometimes things feel too close for comfort. It friggin’ hurts.
When you’re thinking about a decision you need to make, an action that you need to take, a conversation that you need to have, it brings up some serious stuff like fear, worry, doubt, guilt, shame. The Bad Boys of feelings, so to speak. It’s really hard to act from a place of empowerment when all you feel is fear, for example. Like I said in the last episode, oftentimes fear will make you do things that aren’t in your best interest.
You’re not going to be able to make a strong connection to your inner guidance with all the bad boys swirling around.
Something that has been really helpful to me is to put distance in the situation, the decision, the action
I ask myself, “What would I tell a client of mine? What would I tell my best friend? What would I want my daughter to remember in moments like these? How would I comfort my mom in a time like this?”
Whatever the answer is to these questions, that’s what I apply to myself.
So if my best friend is in a relationship with a bum and I’m telling her, “Get your finances in order. Put together a budget. Start researching your options. Work with a therapist to help you process your feelings,” guess who is gonna have to start taking that advice? Yours truly.
ANOTHER THING YOU CAN DO IS WRITE ABOUT IT IN THIRD PERSON.
Give your character a name and write your story using her life.
“Lucinda is currently trying to decide if she should find another job. Here are the facts: her boss is a micromanager. She’s constantly stressed. She researched salaries for her function, industry and city online and found that she is grossly underpaid and there is no room for promotion in the near future. The only reason why she’s stuck around for so long is that she absolutely adores working with her list of clientele.”
I find by doing that it becomes easier to weigh the options without taking on the first person bad boy feelings.
HERE’S THE DEAL, HB: YOUR LIFE IS YOUR MASTERPIECE.
You get to choose what you want to paint, the colors you want to choose, the technique you want to apply. I know it’s overwhelming -- there are literally an infinite amount of possibilities and you want to do a good job with the canvas you’ve been given.
I want you to know that there is a powerhouse of wisdom inside of you that is begging for you to start paying attention to it, honoring it, honing it, consulting it and following what it has to say.
Yes, do your due diligence. Read the articles. Ask your friends. Consult the experts. But don’t ever forget that you, too, are an expert. The expert of you.
You will mess up. But I promise you that within each so-called mistake, there is a gift being given to you.
Thomas Edison, who has been described as America’s greatest inventor, said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” We could literally be sitting in the dark right now had he given up after the third way that didn’t work.
The time has come to get back in the gym of life with a different approach. Give yourself permission to let your inner guidance make small decisions and then ramp up to big decisions. Start using your imagination to envision that which doesn’t exist but totally could. Start learning the language of your body, so that you can understand it when it speaks to you. Put some distance in your decision so that you can think about all the possibilities without the bad boy feelings of looking at in first person.
Trust that you know and, if you don’t know, that you’re smart enough to learn.
“EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE.” -- MARIE FORLEO
Everything. You are intelligent and capable of reading the literature, analyzing the deals and making the decisions. God has gifted you with your own internal GPS system and it’s time to start following its directions.
I want to remind you that you are a child of God and God has not abandoned you. You don’t ever have to go at life alone. You literally have the creator of the universe on speed dial and you are so loved.
Remind yourself, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.” Everything is working out in your favor. Trust and believe, HB, because it’s absolutely true.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment and let me know your greatest takeaway from today’s episode. It really means a lot to me when I hear from you, so holla at ya girl.
I’m cheering for you. Like you’re walking in the sky.