How did that make you feel? It’s a question asked often by therapists. No, it’s not just a waste of time, nor is it an effort to turn us all into emotional washrags.
Every time I ask someone the question, “How did that make you feel?” they almost instantly stop, check into, and evaluate how a situation or a conversation made them feel. Sometimes individuals respond back with a blank expression, sometimes the only word they can identify is “frustration,” sometimes they can articulate a world of thoughts without ever being able listen to, make sense of, or do anything productive with their feelings.
God created our feelings. Our feelings are flashing lights on our journeys that help give us information, feedback, and insight for the road ahead. Our feelings also provide the most direct connection with our inner voice.
“What is an inner voice?” some might ask. Our inner voice is the place where the Holy Spirit communes with us. Scripture says the Holy Spirit would come to comfort, teach, and guide us. He speaks to us through Scripture, but He also speaks directly to us, deep inside. The problem is, most of us have never learned how to listen to our emotions, much less, quiet all of the outside noise so we can hear Him speak.
Here is an excerpt from my new book, Peace For a Lifetime, that shares the importance of discovering our inner voice so that we can build a strong connection with God and ourselves. God is alive and at work within us. We are not alone. Yet so many live without ever experiencing the communion, the abundance, or peace that comes from learning to identify, listen to, and trust our inner voice.
Deep inside each of us is a voice—a quiet, respectful, non-intrusive voice— that acts somewhat like an internal GPS system. If we lean in and quiet all of the chatter that incessantly distracts us, we can hear this voice. Some people call it our instinct. As a Christian, I call the voice the Holy Spirit. As Jesus promised, He resides in us, just to bring comfort, help, direction, wisdom, and guidance for our life’s journey. (John 14:26 NIV)
This inner voice can only be heard once we’ve connected our emotional pipes. Although the voice is not the voice of our emotions, its residence is deep within us. If we’ve shut ourselves off from our emotions, chances are high we’ve shut ourselves off from that voice as well.
As a result of painful, traumatic experiences, many people have learned to completely shut down their emotions as a survival skill. Others learn to live life disconnected from their emotions because they have been taught by their families of origin that emotions are bad (either verbally or nonverbally). They think they hear their inner voice. They believe this is the voice of logic and reason. They like to listen to this voice because listening keeps them at a comfortable distance from everything that isn’t clear-cut, black or white. Yet the voice of logic and reason, more sophisticated perhaps than our emotional voice, is not our inner voice anymore than the voice of emotion is.
Just as some people have been completely cut off from their emotions, others have been entirely lost in their emotions and overwhelmed by them. For a variety of reasons, they have never learned how to adequately calm or regulate their emotions. As a result, the volume of feeling is so high, the quality of thinking so distracted and disorganized, they cannot hear the voice inside either.
As we develop EA, our job is to find that place right in the middle of our thinking and feeling, which allows us to feel our emotions and calm them. Once we have done that, we can use our thinking to process through our emotions and arrive at a centered, peaceful place. Only then will we be quiet enough in our hearts and our minds to hear our inner voice, to listen to the whispered words of encouragement and direction offered for the steps that lie ahead.
Our inner voice rarely lays out the entire road map for us, but like any other relationship, as we learn to build a strong connection and trust our inner voice, we will find comfort in realizing we don’t need to know the entire plan. We’ll find strength in learning to honor our inner voice to take the next steps, whatever they may be. We will discover more about God and more about ourselves along the way.
That excites me! You don’t have to continue to feel drained, empty, and hopeless in your life. God has so much more in store for you! God longs for you to experience peace. “Peace” in Hebrew refers to wholeness, completeness, safety, soundness, and fullness. God wants us to be whole —physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
I share simple, practical life steps in my book, Peace For a Lifetime, that can help you understand the life God desires for you. This material can help you create and experience an indestructible peace – not just for today, not just for tomorrow, you can experience peace…for a lifetime!
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