Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

While living in Islamabad, Pakistan, our nine-year-old son casually mentioned to us at the dinner table that a big fear of his was that we—mom and dad—would die during the night and he wouldn’t know how to contact his Aunt Kris back in the United States. This was when Internet hardly functioned and international phone calls could take days to ring through.

He then calmly went on to ask, “And who do you think would want our pots and pans?” followed by his short list of recipients.

To assuage Jon’s fears, we wrote down names and local phone numbers (why hadn’t we thought of this earlier??) of the Rawalpindi Leprosy Hospital where Mike worked, which was run by four German Lutheran nuns. “If anything should happen to us, call the Sisters. They have all the phone numbers, they’ll take care of everything, including the pots and pans.” That’s all he needed to know.

We did keep our shocked and sad faces as near to normal as we could at this revelation of the burden he carried. This was before 9/11, and while foreigners could be the recipient of intentional acts of violence, greater concerns consisted of fatal car accidents or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. An unsuspecting white person could quickly find themselves the scapegoat of mob mentality. Hence, we avoided military coups and political demonstrations. We made an effort to keep these personal security matters from emotionally leaking out in front of Jon—these were burdens he did not need to carry. Children create their own reality by picking up feelings of the adults around them, and not knowing all the facts, come to erroneous conclusions. Mike and I lived alert to our surroundings, but not fearfully—otherwise we might as well pack up and go home.  

So privately we high-fived each other, pleased with ourselves that he hadn’t visualized us dying at the hands of frenzied mobs.

Your emotion is part you. You’re made with it. Denying it and thinking it is all your mind, is denying your existence. -Ann Marie Aguilar

This was not an emotional discussion; Jon was factual, we were factual. We didn’t chide him, we didn’t pooh-pooh his fears, saying dismissive things such as, “Oh don’t be silly. That will never happen.”

Children instinctually focus on the bottom two tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The foundational tier—physiological–includes food, clothing, and shelter. The next level up, safety needs, includes security, stability, and freedom from fear. Jon’s imagination saw mom and dad dying in their sleep, and that everything would then be up to him.

If we had dismissed his fears as irrelevant and illogical, he could have grown up thinking his feelings didn’t matter. He could have grown up believing the only source of information he could rely upon was his rational brain’s analysis.

Rationality remains hallowed in our Western culture. Plato’s metaphor of humanity had two horses pulling the chariot. One is well-bred and well behaved; the other pulls this way and that. This latter horse symbolized a person’s negative and destructive emotions. The charioteer’s job was to rein this dark horse in.

Rene Descartes said the holy soul was capable of reason while our body was full of “mechanical passions.”

It wasn’t long before women came to embody the “mechanical passions” and men the “holy soul capable of reason.” Our patriarchal religious and political institutions used this as their rationale for controlling women. By osmosis, as a young woman I soaked up that worldview. I wanted admission into that make-believe club of rationality. I ignored my emotions and my intuition. The problem then, without even realizing it, is that the patriarchy  was still telling me what my feelings “ought to be.” My inner GPS circled round and round.

Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

And then the pendulum began swinging in the opposite direction. Prestigious business schools taught and measured for emotional intelligence—“trust your gut”—turning out young men and women with MBAs who, if leaders, became a danger to those around them as they derisively ignored sage elders. Wiser elders do trust their guts—but that emotional wisdom manifested through cognitive choices came through decades of experience.

We get stuck in the either/or thinking of classical physics vs. and/both of quantum mechanics. And it isn’t logic OR emotions—it’s both. Yes, our minds create falsehoods around our perceived thoughts of what we believe other people may be thinking. But our emotions are our teachers—and so we pay attention to them but also bring in solid facts in order to examine our storyline from a rationale point of view.

I believe in intuitions and inspirations…I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am-Albert Einstein

And how do we tell the difference between true intuition and a misleading emotion? How do we know if our intuitions are warning us of a harmful scenario, or are we just scared about going somewhere? Below are some suggestions; pay attention to what “pings” your spirit as you read them. 

1. For those of us who deadened and ignored our emotions for years, if not decades, it’s a long haul back to learning from that emotional part of ourselves which we forced into the shadows of our psyche. It will take time for that part of ourselves to trust us again. Think of a child with moody or unreliable parents: one minute they’re supportive, the next the parents are cursing the child.

2. Pay attention to your emotions, to your gut feelings. Welcome them, with curiosity: “Hmm… isn’t that interesting. What’s going on? Am I being triggered? If so, why?” Sit with them mindfully, welcoming them nonjudgmentally. If you push them away they won’t stay away, but will manifest themselves in various ways: cancer, headaches, various pains in your body—emotions carry energy.

3. Joel Marsh says that, “Intuition is the basis of decisions, which is informed by past emotions. Emotions are the result of experiences, which inform your intuition . . . . Intuition is the prediction; emotions are the consequence” (note 3).

4. Generally speaking, intuition is a gentle pull or push or knowing. Emotions tend to be a reaction to a thought or situation that triggers a feeling such as sadness, happiness or anger. Both express a portion of reality that logic may not be aware of.

5. Check out your motivations. Does ego want this in order to look good in the eyes of others, to please someone?

Fundamental to incorporating our emotions and intuition into our decision-making process are gentleness and patience. We will make mistakes—I call them experiments—but these become our teachers.  Through experience and sensitivity to our psyches we learn what was intuition-driven and what was emotion-driven.

We end up giving ourselves to the world as whole people, grateful for all our Divinely dispensed gifts—not just the ones ego believes are worthy of attention.

We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper from the universe.

All we have to do is listen—feel and sense it with an open heart.

Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition.

Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane.

Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.

Poet and writer CJ Heck, Bits and Pieces: Short Stories from a Writer’s Soul

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Notes & Sources:

1. Lehrer, Jonah. How We Decide, Mariner Books, 2010. Unfortunately, Lehrer made bad decisions and his publisher pulled the book after plagiarism was revealed. It’s an entertaining read, however, bringing insight and historical background to emotional intelligence.

2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-fitness/201310/feelings-aren-t-facts

3. https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-distinguish-gut-intuition-from-emotion

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About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth