Many of the women I coach are experienced professionals, directors, marketers, engineers, nurse practitioners, research scientists, and more. These women are highly educated and produce quality work, but before our working together, they have likely been passed up by their male colleagues—who may or may not have the same level of expertise. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. The problem isn’t the quality of the women’s work. It’s (usually) that they aren’t being recognized, and sometimes not asking for better opportunities. I often hear stories of being gaslighted. Another common issue is that women who are perfectionists have a hard time letting go of the details they need to delegate to others. They often work too many hours and burn themselves out. And sometimes we’re just too sweet and pleasing when it would serve us best to be more frank.
Getting out of these patterns, like any other positive change you want to make in your life, begins with listening inward. Your intuition will help you uncover the opportunities sitting right in front of you and give you a gut check when you need to speak up for yourself.
For women who want to lead, trusting themselves looks like applying for the jobs they want and getting paid for their value; it’s going after what you want with confidence. It’s communicating quickly and honestly when you know something for sure—without needing validation. When you trust yourself, it shows up in how you act, the firmness of what you say, the honesty and straightforwardness of communicating. You can learn all these skills one at a time, when needed, by listening to your inner voices.
This is the first of four steps in what I call The Art of Following Your Own Path. We’ll get to steps two through four in the next few articles.
Listen to the Voices In Your Head
Have you ever been in a situation where someone told a joke, everyone laughed, and you thought: “That’s not funny?” Did you also have a sick or sinking feeling in your gut? Did you feel shaky and nervous? Pay attention to the voices in your head, the sensations in your body, the images and sounds that run through your mind, and even smells and tastes beyond what your logical brain can process.
As you begin to pay attention, you will likely recognize that you have many inner voices. Don’t worry; this is normal! Some voices are sad; some are self-judging, common sayings, jingles, or questions. They can be clarifying or confusing. Some voices make you feel better, and others make you feel worse. It’s not uncommon for two voices to disagree with each other.
Start noticing how the voices make you feel. Good? Bad? Do you agree with what it’s saying? Listening isn’t just about hearing the words in your head—it’s also noticing the feelings in your body and connecting them to what is happening at the moment. Are you breathing freely? Are you tense or relaxed? Do you notice physical pain?
Some people get pictures in their minds that don’t seem directly related to what is going on—a flash of a vision. Are you picking up on something about the person or situation? Is it useful, or is it a distraction?
When you learn to “listen” to yourself, think of it as a five-sense, full-body skill. You are always communicating with yourself, but we often ignore the information, push it to the background, or take it for granted. See what happens when you deliberately pay attention to your reactions and sensory experiences.
Hear Your Inner Truth
We’ll discuss discerning which voices are useful to listen to and which aren’t in the next article. But for now, know that some voices in your head will alert you to your deeper truth. The trick is identifying them and learning to filter out the rest.
There are likely a few other characters in there that you’ll recognize. A voice that’s familiar to many is the Inner Critic. It’s the one that says things such as “I’m so stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t deserve that.” Sometimes it even sounds like someone else talking: “You’ll never succeed,” “You can’t do that,” or “No one will ever love you.” Another voice that surprises many is the one that presents you with well-worn sayings or bits of “wisdom” that you may not agree with. Maybe you’re watching someone try to manage a couple of active kids, and you hear inside your mind: “Children should be seen and not heard.” Where did that come from? Do you agree with it?
Trusting Yourself Leads to Happiness
Listening to outside influences teaches us how to survive, but we must look inward to take the next step and thrive. When we’re on the right track, we feel it. Doing what you’re good at and overcoming challenges feels successful. Knowing who you are, feeling strong and confident. Leaving the world a better place feels worthwhile. Feeling inspired by what you care about feels “right,” and part of living a fulfilling life is enjoying the journey.
Remember, there are four major components to tapping into your truth: listening, discerning, trusting, and choosing, but it’s not always a linear process. You’re likely to go back and forth between these four steps multiple times as you learn to find your inner compass on any given issue, situation, or opportunity.
If you’re ready to dive into the process with some personal guidance, get in touch with me for a free 15-minute consultation. Subscribe to my newsletter to ensure you don’t miss the next few blogs in this series!