How do I know what I want?
This is the most common question asked by my clients. And it doesn’t surprise me.
We grew up in an environment which did not allow us to connect with ourselves. We were not allowed to ask for what we wanted. We were not allowed to feel how we felt. We were not allowed to say no to what we didn’t want. After trying to express ourselves authentically to no avail, we learned to shut it down. It was too painful to listen to the cries from inside when we could not answer them. So we just shut it down.
Now that we are adults, we listen to all the mainstream self help experts. They say the same things. “You have the answers inside.” “Trust your intuition.” “Listen to what you want above all others.” Well damn. If that isn’t confusing, nothing is. How are we supposed to connect with the voice we were forced to shut down all those years ago? How do we know what we want? It isn’t that we hear it and ignore it (although that may be happening). We don’t even know what it sounds like.
Why don’t we know what it sounds like? It is buried under years of traumatic emotions and memories we had to shove down with it. And our intuition is only available when we are in a grounded state. In other words, we have to be in the body. But all the pain is in the body. We have spent years mastering the ability to stay out of the body. Now we have to face the fact that our intuition is exactly where we don’t want to go. While it would be nice if the first step was “access our intuition”, it isn’t. The first step is to feel the pain of the past. Who wants to do that?
But if you are reading this, you are already on that journey. And you may be wondering how you can tease out the intuitive messages from all the parts screaming in your head. What’s intuition and what is the inner parts chatter? Here are some rules I have learned as I have accessed my own intuition.
- Intuition sounds insane. If you hear a voice inside your head saying you should stay small and live a comfortable life, you are not hearing your intuition. Your intuition is about living large and fulfilling a purpose. That purpose is never small. It is never safe. Intuition is scary. Intuition says you are meant to do amazing things. It doesn’t mean you are meant to be famous or win the Nobel Peace Prize, but it means you are meant to do something that scares you. Think of the scariest thing you could do. Think of the thing that makes your heart race and stomach do twists and turns. Does that thing make you proud beyond measure? That’s your thing.
- Intuition is a whisper. Your inner parts scream at you. Maybe they don’t scream at you all the time. But they scream at you sometimes. And when you are trying to get in touch with your intuition, your parts scream at you the loudest. They are trying to drown it out. The controller is the biggest enemy of your intuition. They are NOT okay with anything big and risky. That is not their thing. But if you can ground and listen to the whisper, you may get an idea of what your intuition has to say. And if the first response to a thought is a beat-down by your controller, it is probably your intuition.
- Intuition doesn’t sound desperate. Your inner parts are desperate. Why? They are always fighting with another inner part. Even our most prominent parts have an opposing part. You may not be able to hear it, but the opposition is there. So your parts will be in a hurry. Your parts will make you feel like time and energy is running out. Your parts will go to desperate lengths to have their needs met. But intuition is patient. Intuition can wait. Intuition is standing by waiting for you to wake up. Intuition knows you want what they are offering. And any opposition is not concerning.
- Intuition will never give you the entire picture. Following intuition requires faith. I am not talking about religious faith. I am talking about faith in life. And I already know what you are thinking. How can I possibly have faith in life after what I have been through? The controller is the antithesis of faith. But with trauma processing, that faith will build. And one day, you will hear that first step and find it hard not to take it. You won’t know what will come next and that won’t matter as much as it used to. You will take that first step. And after you take that first step, the next step will become clear. And you will take it. That’s how intuition works. Don’t get me wrong, you may have a fuzzy picture of where you are going. But how you are getting there will be a mystery.
Don’t give up on finding your way back to yourself. You do know what you want. It is buried under a ton of muck, but it is there. And as you work through your traumatic emotions and memories, you will start to hear the whisper. As you get to know your inner parts, you will notice how your parts keep you away from the whisper. You will build the ability to hear yourself above the din of society and your inner chatter. You will learn to trust and follow yourself above everything else. But it will take time. For today, trust enough to take one step.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW