When you start living a life true to who you are, rather than what others want you to be, you begin to live your life from the inside out.
Living from the inside out means you are listening to a different part of yourself beyond your mind. You begin listening to your heart first and foremost. And when I say heart you can call that by a lot of different names: your soul, your gut instinct, your essential self – they are all different words to describe the same thing – a part of you that acts like an internal navigation system and is trying to guide you to YOUR best life. And the beautiful thing is we all come with this built-in, inner-GPS that wants us to feel free, fulfilled and happy in our lives.
No one else could ever tell you what your best life is because what is best for each of us is as unique as our fingerprint. And we find these answers on what is best for us by going within.
So what does ‘going within’ mean?
It means quieting yourself enough to just be right here, right now, in this moment. When you can get to that space, you can start to hear the messages of your heart. Slowing down and getting quiet is important because, unlike the mind that is constantly talking, the heart speaks in whispers. Your heart communicates with you gently, quietly, and mainly through feelings. Guidance from your heart may sound like:
“This opportunity isn’t right for you.”
“YES! You must do this.”
“Something is off with this person.”
Quiet, gentle, no lengthy explanations.
What tends to happen is we get guidance from the heart but then our mind quickly chimes in and talks us into or out of that guidance because often what the heart says doesn’t make sense in the mind. So, using the examples above, the mind would respond with something like:
“But it pays so well, it will be worth it in the end.”
“But that would require a lot of change on your part. Not worth it.”
“You are just being judgmental. That person was probably having a bad day. “
Our hearts and minds rarely lead us to the same answers mainly because they have different motivations. The mind is most often driven by extrinsic motivations (think rewards and recognition) whereas the heart goes off intrinsic motivation (think doing something for the pure love of doing it).
But to live the most fulfilling, freeing life, is to live from your heart. It knows what is best for you, even if that doesn’t look like what the outside world tells you it should be.
About two years ago I made the decision to move from Chicago to California. I had been thinking about it for a while and my heart was telling me now was the time. It didn’t necessarily make sense in my mind – most everything I knew and loved was in Chicago – but my heart was longing for change and to be in a new location. Even though it was scary and didn’t always make sense, I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t listen to this nudge from within. When I moved all I knew was that I wanted a change and that California felt like the best place for that. At that time I couldn’t really tell you much more beyond that. What I didn’t know (and what I learned once I got here) was how much the move would help me grow and become more of the person I’m meant to be. It helped me discover myself outside of an environment I’d always known. In fact, it may have been the only way for me to discover these things. And now, because of that type of growth, I’m doing things in my life that at one time would have seemed completely impossible. My heart knew what needed to be done.
This is what happens when you start listening to your heart. It steers you in directions you would have never thought and you become more of the person you know you are capable of being. Dare I say, you become more alive.
But learning to listen to and trust your heart is a practice and that only comes through experience itself.
And the first step is learning to slow down and just BE.
Here’s a way to start: Set a timer for two minutes, sit in an upright position, close your eyes, take a few deep inhales and exhales, and just focus on the inhales and exhales of your breath for those two minutes.
How does it feel to shut the mind off, if only for a couple minutes, and just BE?! From this place, your heart can talk to you. Are you ready to listen?