Sometimes choosing to follow your inner voice is as simple as taking the long way home.
A couple of weeks prior, I had a stressful experience driving home from a client meeting in a storm with a coworker. We had a three-hour drive home. My co-worker, trying to make up time, was driving excessively fast until we hydroplaned in the fast lane between the side rail and a semi-truck. For five painstakingly long seconds, we couldn’t see the road ahead of us. I gripped the armrest and my coworker screamed as the car slid towards the semi-truck. Moments before we could have collided with the truck, my coworker regained control of the car. We made it home safely that night, but my cortisone levels took days to recover.
So when we had to return to meet with the client on another stormy day, I was at a standstill. The thought of going through that experience again was panic-inducing. That very moment, my heart started to race. It’s funny how the body speaks when it wants you to be aware of something.
Here’s the mind: Complete indecision. Choosing between possibly offending a coworker by traveling separate, possibly upsetting my company for expensing what might be considered “too much” for a day trip, and possibly having to wait and stay an extra couple of hours to catch the train home.
As is so common, there is pressure to never be a burden to someone else, to never cause another pain.. all the while putting ourselves through hours of anxiety, stress, and shame. That’s not okay. It’s human, but it’s not helpful.
I tuned into my inner voice, asking if I should take the ride in a rainstorm or wait for the train. My inner voice clearly said “the train”. Yet the aforementioned human fears appeared with a quickened pulse and darting eyes. I compared option and option, again and again. That is until I became aware of what I was doing.
I thought to myself, “I always want to follow my inner voice. And it has never led me astray. Yet here I am doubting it and trying to run the other way. I don’t want to do that.”
So I immediately booked the train ticket, typed a brief email to my coworker, and released it from my emotional plane. What a silly waste of neural pathways. Choosing to see outside of the very human worry, shame, and fear creates new, mindful neural networks in the brain that support calmer, more trusting decisions in the future. And dare I say a more enlightened future.
That is the journey. Following the Inner Voice is so simple, if only we can remove the mind’s self-talk and emotional scrutiny. Of course, I say “so simple” knowing just how great the challenge is getting there.
That is why it’s a practice. Why we’ve not already arrived at the proverbial “there”. Our desire for perfection oozes from our every decision, and it serves as a constant reminder of our humanity. And furthermore our purpose. To walk, continually along the path less traveled, guided by the Inner Voice, realizing at the crossroads of the smallest of decisions, who we are meant to be.