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Find Your Own Way to Goodness: How to Listen to Your Truth Instead of Expectations

June 15, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Purpose and Passion

I’m one of those people who have tended to doubt themselves, particularly when it comes to making decisions. Give me a test where I have to memorize things, and I’m your girl. I’m a poster child for the American education system. I learned how not to think for myself, so that I could score higher, win ribbons, and do the things I really didn’t want to do. Then when I walked out of a legal career to reinvent my life based on listening to my desires and instincts, I realized I had no idea how to go beyond someone else’s rules and find my own code. And this is what creating an inspired life is all about. It’s about being true to yourself, the self you are in this minute, not the self you think you should be, and not what other people– or even you– would usually do.

Shakespeare, the dude, wrote, “To thine own self be true” and I think he would have made a fine career coach or guru. Real success comes from astonishing independence, being present to your immediate truth rather than to external or internal expectations. Inspiration doesn’t always arrive dressed in linen and smelling like lavender. Sometimes, it comes through raw insistence of what you do not want to hear. Listening is the price of flourishing.

I’ll give you an example.

Years ago, I was working with a complicated woman, I’ll call Laura, in another part of the United States. At the end of a day in which I’d listened to every disagreeable opinion Laura could possibly ever have, Laura suggested we walk this Labyrinth in a church downtown. When I say suggested, I mean we were already driving there. Laura explained the Labyrinth dynamic to me. “The Labyrinth is a walking meditation. Just follow the paths to the center and back out again. Go your own way and be with the experience,” she said, sounding all Zen, when, really, we both knew she’d be much better suited as den mother for a pack of Nazi’s.

At the time, I just wanted to go back to my hotel room and cry. Maybe, catch an episode of Law and Order, the kind of show that is always playing on T.V. in absolutely any hotel room. When we arrive, the event is larger than I’d imagined and crowded. I dutifully step in line with the herd of seekers to follow into the mystical maze. Once walking, I find myself wanting to jam into a fast lane. But it doesn’t feel right to pass people who were being really contemplative. Maybe they weren’t just slow cows. Maybe they were listening to angels. Hell, I’d walk slowly if I were listening to angels. But I was in hurry. I wanted to do this spiritual thing, get it done, get my answer, and get out of here.

“I don’t want to do this,” said a voice in the back of my mind. I heard it, like I heard so much of myself, like a radio playing a song you don’t really listen to. You know the words, can repeat them, but they haven’t landed, haven’t picked open the tiny locks in your heart. I carried on putting one lead foot in front of me. I felt exhausted on every level. It takes a lot to ignore your truth. In that hushed hall, my mind spoke as loudly as an American in Europe. “I don’t want to do this,” I heard. “Of course you don’t want to do it,” said another voice, a mean voice I knew well. “You’re a sissy. You can’t commit. You’re bailing.” I trudged forward, not yet seeing the irony of walking in shame towards enlightenment.

Of course, what really kept me going was this: I was terrified that I’d miss something, that maybe I was supposed to be here, that maybe if I took just one more step, I’d have a revelation or divine intervention, or that a wizened monk or gnome or even a tooth fairy that looked like Lady Gaga would enter my consciousness with a message that would change my life, if only I stayed the course.

Besides, everyone else seemed to be blissful, vibrating in a sea of open chakras, and mantras streaming from their lips, no doubt realizing shocking inner truths. I am convinced that every one of them is receiving primeval soul instruction and secret stock tips. I so do not want to be the loser in the crowd that just deals with being tired. “I don’t want to do this,” the voice insists again. And for the first time, I think about it rationally. Would I really hear inner wisdom if some part of me was hurting and begging me to leave? Was it inner wisdom to listen to this part of myself? Who said it was inner wisdom to ignore this part of myself? What if this voice screaming for freedom was my inner wisdom? “I just don’t want to do this,” the voice said again with everything it ever had, everything it would ever have, demanding, pleading, begging, knowing, chanting, being reasonable and unreasonable. And just like that, my truth became clear. I wanted an experience of liberation and clarity. But I didn’t want to walk this Labyrinth. I wanted to go back to my hotel and tuck myself into bed.

Immediately, new negotiations began. “Well you can’t just walk out of the Labyrinth. You can’t just cut across people’s path or move diagonally. You have to stay in the lines,” Follow the Rules Girl said emphatically. She’d be a great IRS employee. Then I remembered, the real rule of the Labyrinth, find my own way, to the center. Who said my way couldn’t just be to leave and take my center with me? Yes, it seemed like crying Uncle, or abandoning a peace rally. It felt heretical like spitting out the wafer at communion. But self-love is heretical. Freedom requires bold choices. And really, probably nobody gave a fig. I bolted. I walked out of the Labyrinth and held my own hand. I held my own soul like a soft wounded bird. I walked in the direction of comfort, self-care, mercy and ultimately redemption. I walked in the direction of love. I didn’t know it then, but I wasn’t walking away from Spirit, I was walking towards Spirit. I was listening to myself. I was honoring myself. On my way out, I told someone there who knew Laura to let her know I’d taken a cab back. When I arrived at my hotel, which seemed like the real shrine to me, I got into a hot bath, cried, and slipped into the velvet of inner peace. Apparently, I’d found my way to center.

I had to abandon what I thought was “spiritual,” to listen to my Spirit. You will, too. Listening to your inner voice requires honesty, integrity, and courage. There are no formulas. It’s all fresh chemistry every second. Many of my coaching clients only seem to trust their inner voice when it suggests something like studying for an MBA or saving the whales. That is to say, only “virtuous” things count, things you could tell your Austrian aunt Helga, and make her pat her dress in pride. But I tell them and I’ll tell you, you do not know what is most productive on this path. You have no idea of the progress you can make when you listen to instincts that are not conditioned by our society. Why would you attempt to create a life of unbounded freedom by listening to the advice of the bound one within you?

Of course, I’m not advising you to simply follow the part of you that suggests ease. You and I both know, the voice of cruel self-limitation can sound kind and concerned. I’ve had a cunning voice for years, tell me that I shouldn’t “strain” myself by writing, exercising, meditating, or doing any of the things that would take me across the bridge into a new world. Resistance can mimic compassion. And the results are devastating.

So how do you discern which instincts to trust inside yourself? Here’s a quick rule of thumb. It’s not what an inner voice advises that matters. I look at the motivation behind the suggestion. For me, leaving that walking meditation wasn’t weakness. It was strength. It wasn’t coming from boredom or petulance. It was coming from self-trust and self-loyalty. It wasn’t the choice, alone, that was right. It was the right choice for that specific moment. Guidance is exact, original, and unduplicated. There are no mechanical rules. Experiment and learn.

Dare to listen to and respect your emerging truth. It may not look the way you wish. It may have you make “undesirable” choices. You don’t get to decide what freedom and success should look like. You only know how sweet it feels.

Copyright © Tama Kieves  All rights reserved.

Tama J. Kieves is the bestselling author of THIS TIME I DANCE! Creating the Work You Love (How One Harvard Lawyer Left It All to Have It All!) and is a sought-after speaker and career coach who has helped thousands world-wide to discover and live their true work in the world. Visit her at www.ThisTimeIDance and sign up for free inspiration and support through her monthly e-newsletter or download her Free Transformational Report on “Finding Your Calling Now.”

Julian Kalmar and Rick Beneteau want to know if you've got what it takes to step up and be a leader in the new world transformation. CLICK HERE to find out.

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