Is it My Intuition or am I Making this Up?
A question people often ask themselves about inner messages is, “How can I tell whether this message is from my inner voice or just from my conscious mind?”
Conscience is not the inner voice
Actually, you already know something about discerning the source of inner guidance. Conscience, for example, is the first inner guidance that everyone recognizes as being distinct from the inner chatter going on in their minds. It can come with a feeling, a pang of conscience. In fact, conscience is so common that, if you don’t have one, society calls you a sociopath! So you already have some understanding about discerning the source of inner guidance.
You also know the “sound” of conscience: it sounds the same as the internal monologue that we normally hear, although sometimes it’s stronger. And there’s an element of conscience that you know but may not realize until it’s pointed out: conscience is always negative. Conscience never tells us what to do; it only says what not to do. It only says, “Don’t!”
Conscience is not always right
Research has shown that conscience is sort of a soup made up of such things as upbringing, school, guilt, fear, and societal norms. But conscience is not always the inner voice because it’s not always right. There have been times in human history when, in hindsight, the societal norm has been incorrect. Examples include the Inquisition and apartheid. The inner voice is more than conscience, more than each person’s moral compass.
The feeling of intuition
We recognize intuition in hindsight when it has come to us as a valid creative inspiration, a useful insight, or the solution to a problem. (And sometimes intuition can come not as a thought, but as a feeling, a vision, or a knowing.) But there are many voices in our head in addition to intuition and conscience. There is also the negative voice that’s regularly pointing out our many flaws, the critical inner voice.
So, how to tell your inner voice from conscience, the critical inner voice, and other thoughts? Success Coach Michael Neal catches the flavor of the feeling of the inner voice when he says: “How can you tell the inner voice from all of the other voices in your head? The inner voice is the one that doesn’t think you suck.” If the question is whether an inner message is from your intuition or is just your conscious mind, concentrate on the feeling of the message. The inner message with the supportive feeling is likely from your inner voice.