How to Access Your Inner Guide to Make Better Decisionsby Scott Jeffrey
When the ancient Greeks needed answers, they consulted oracles.
Oracles were priestly men and women at designated locations, like stone temples, who offered wise counsel or predictions about the future.
The source of this wisdom and predictive power was said to be the gods. That is, the oracles used a form of divination to guide others.
Imagine wrestling with a challenging problem where no single answer seems to present itself.
Maybe you are considering a new vocation, starting a family, going on an extended trip, or invading a foreign land.
What to do, what to do.
Table of Contents
What It Means to Decide
When our minds wrestle with problems, it can be mentally and emotionally draining, leading to physical fatigue.
Decision-making is hard work. We don’t know what the decision will mean to us.
We tend to fear to make the wrong decision. The Latin root of decision means to cut off or kill; to decide is to cut off or kill other options, which our minds dislike doing.
So we often avoid making difficult decisions. Avoidance, of course, only prolongs our anguish.
Instead of wrestling with the problem or indecision, imagine letting an oracle bring clarity to the issue.
And because you trust that oracle wholeheartedly, you know that he or she will provide proper guidance. Problem solved. Tension resolved.
The Source of the Oracle’s Wisdom
Did the source of the oracle’s wisdom stem from some external source like the gods? (Pythia, the oracle at Delphi, apparently had a pretty good track record; she was considered to be infallible.)
From a modern psychological perspective, we would say these oracles were attuned to their personal unconscious and perhaps the unconscious of the collective.
That is, these ancient intuitives were connected to their inner worlds and the inner world of their culture.
External Wisdom Versus Inner Guide
It can be comforting and supportive to get outside guidance and wise counsel when problems arise. And as a personal and business coach, I’m not suggesting otherwise.
But Abraham Maslow and other humanistic psychologists found that self-actualizing people—those that tend to have more positive mental health—are less dependent on others and tend to be more autonomous and self-directed in making life decisions.
Instead of consulting others about their problems, they tend to direct their attention in the opposite direction: inward.
They call on their deeper nature, latent resources, and creative impulses to solve their problems.
Tapping Into Our Deeper Nature
Coming to trust one’s inner guide, however, doesn’t happen instantaneously.
Much of our inner, deeper nature is unconscious to us.
Freud suggested that we actively repress our deeper nature because it is feared, disapproved of, and foreign to our conscious egos.
And many aspects of this inner nature are simply forgotten, that is, neglected, unused, overlooked, or suppressed.
This process begins early in life, largely as a response to parental and cultural disapproval.
Instincts Lost and Regained
Before we can come to trust our inner center, we need to first connect with it and open up to it. That is, we must forge a bond with our personal unconscious.
As modern folks living in a technological age where many of us live in urban dwellings, we have largely become divorced from nature and our instincts.
Maslow writes in Toward a Psychology of Being:
Humans no longer have instincts in the animal sense, powerful, unmistakable inner voices which tell them unequivocally what to do, when, where, how and with whom.
Yet, “Authentic selfhood,” Maslow continues, “can be defined in part as being able to hear these impulse-voices within oneself, that is, to know what one really wants or doesn’t want, what one is fit for and what one is not fit for, etc.”
Maslow’s perspective is reminiscent of the ancient Greeks’ who saw the soul as an internal organizing principle that gives meaning and direction to each life.
Paths to Your Inner Guide
Just as there are many pathways for travelers on the road to authentic selfhood, there are many practices to begin tapping into these impulse-voices and intuitive messages.
Here are few paths to consider exploring:
- Carl Jung offered dream work and active imagination to help connect, communicate, and integrate your divine inner center.
- Eastern practices like Qigong and Yoga provide integrative methods that connect the body’s instincts with the mind’s higher capacities.
- An active journaling process and integrative therapies like Internal Family Systems can help get us acquainted with our inner voices.
- Communing with nature is another suitable means for reconnecting with our instincts.
- Being still, staying quiet, and listening carefully can be the most basic yet highly effective means for reconnecting with our soul (that is, practice meditation).
Connecting with our inner nature takes practice, that is, ongoing attention.
But with practice, we can begin opening up to an infinite wellspring of inner guidance and wisdom that flows effortlessly.
It can feed our souls and lead us on a meaningful journey through this precious life.
How to Locate Your Inner Guide
Tapping into these impulse-voices is a matter of doing the one thing, we as modern people, have all but forgotten to do: be still.
Our inner oracle isn’t difficult to access. It’s available right now. It’s being drowned out by our compulsions to being busy.
Hear the voice that says you need to keep going—to be productive with your time—and then let it go. Allow yourself to stop, to pause, and to be.
If you have a few extra minutes, access your inner guide right now:
- Sit or stand with your feet parallel to your shoulders, firmly on the ground.
- Feel the ground beneath your feet.
- Slower your gaze to reduce to distraction. Keep your eyes open but relax your eyelids.
- Take a slow, deep, steady breath, feeling the air enter your nose, following it down past your chest and into your belly.
- Feel the area around your navel expand like a balloon.
- Exhale gently, feeling the air leave your mouth like air releasing from an inflatable mattress.
- Repeat steps 3 through 5 four more times.
- Place your attention slightly above your head. Take the position of the observer who is watching your mind and its thoughts.
- Now, ask a question. Or hold a particular problem you’d like to address in mind.
- Tune in and listen.
Accessing your instincts and connecting to your inner voice can be but a few breaths away.
Stay open to experimenting with this from a beginner’s minds. Stay curious. Be patient.
Want to try a technique to access your inner guide in minutes? See The Mastery Method: Activate Your Higher Potential.
On the Walls of Delphi
Let’s go back to Ancient Greece for a moment. The term “γνῶθι σεαυτόν” was apparently inscribed in the front courtyard at Delphi.
This Greek term translates to the famous aphorism found throughout the writings of Plato: know thyself.
More than just an idea or principle, “know thyself” is instruction.
By looking inward and listening, we can actualize this aphorism and locate the oracle within.
Your inner guide is a breath away.