Listening to the Inner Voice

How to Know the Right Thing to Do

There are few greater challenges than working out what is the right thing to do. Sometimes it can appear quite difficult working out what to choose. These are some suggestions for following our inner conscience and creating the life which will give us most satisfaction.

Be Still

To listen to the inner voice, we have to be able to still the mind and quieten our conflicting thoughts. We need to have a faith that something within us we have the wisdom to know our the right thing. To listen to our inner voice, we can try this technique. Repeat the question very carefully in silence and then try to maintain an inner silence for at least 5 minutes; we should not allow any thought to enter, but keep our mind absolutely quiet. At the end of our silent meditation we should have a clearer idea about what to do.

Does it Give You Peace or Anxiety?

If we feel inwardly awkward about a certain course of action, this is a sign that we are doing the wrong thing. When we are doing the right thing, it will be accompanied by a sense of inner peace. Even if others may not appreciate our action, as long as we are acting with the right motives and intentions, we will have a clear conscience and a sense of peace with our decision.

Ask Yourself the Question.

Sometimes the problem is that we never even stop to think about the right thing to do, but rush headlong into choosing without even thinking. We need to take the time to stop and consider; any worthwhile decision can be given at least a few minutes thought / reflection.

Don’t Act Under The Wrong Impulse.

Sometimes we instinctively know the right thing to do. But, quite often, we make a decision that is clouded by a negative emotion such as anger. When we are overwhelmed with anger, our judgement is clouded and we are prone to acting in a way that exacerbates the situation. Often we regret responding in anger because it creates conflict. If something is the right thing to do we will want to do it even after calmly evaluating the situation.

Does it Fit the Eternal Values?

There are certain precepts and ancient teachings which have always resonated with humanity. These have been expressed in different forms and people will have faith in particular teachings. For complicated decisions we can evaluate our decision against these sayings of wisdom. For example, how does our decision affect other people? The golden rule is “Do unto others, as you would have done to you.” If our decisions fit in with this precept then that is a very good sign.

Motive

It is easy for our mind to justify our wrong actions; we need to be very careful of this. If our mind is being very defensive and is working on a justification for our actions, we have to be especially vigilant. Only we ourselves can know our inner motive. Here we have to be honest with ourselves; if we try to deceive ourselves that we are being selfless, it will only cause problems and make us foolish. If we acting to further our social standing or to gain at the expense of others we have to be very critical of our motives.

Don’t Worry Too much

Sometimes sensitive people can worry too much about the right thing to do. Often the most important thing is not the actual decision, but the motive and consciousness behind what we do. Whatever we decide to do, we should try to do it with enthusiasm and kindness. If we act with the right intentions then we can make even the most insignificant actions meaningful. If we are miserable and mean, then whatever we choose to do we will not be helpful to anyone.

Photo by Tejvan

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5 thoughts on “Listening to the Inner Voice”

  1. I think the category “Don’t act under the wrong impulse” is even more challenging than just not responding out of emotion / anger.

    A lot of times, what we believe is our “instinct” is actually conditioning we’ve had for so long that we don’t even realize it’s conditioning.

    That’s the hardest kind of impulse to see through because it *feels* natural, even though it isn’t.

    Just more food for thought 🙂

  2. Chris,

    I totally agree and that is the first time I have seen it put into words. I used to think I was blessed with a super strong instinct which was right every time but lots of it is as you say conditioning. Coming from a place of stillness and calm normally brings about the best course of action.

  3. This article forces me to think twice about what I am going to do. Is not so much what I do that triggers indecision but the after thoughts of all the things that can go wrong. As a result I am full of procrastination and believe that better times will come. I will try harder to realistically asses the pros & cons. Try not to mix fear during the decision making process.

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