More than ever before we recognize the true importance of hearing and trusting our intuition.
More than ever before we are quieting the chattering mind in order to listen to that almost silent inner voice, the one whispering within us who we really are. We go to hear that voice in our meditation practices, on our yoga mats, through our tarot readings, or wherever else that mental static goes mute. We want to heart these truths so that we become more deeply exactly who we are, and in my opinion, nothing is more precious.
But even if we can teach ourselves how to listen to the inner voice, how then do we trust it? Oftentimes the whispering says things we don’t like to hear. Often it is telling us we are not living lives we love, that we don’t feel free to be who we really are, that there is more pain in us than we dare to admit.
And bear with me, here’s where we get a little confusing. Sometimes when we make room for the inner voice, other voices will rise up in us to protect us from the truths too heavy to bear. These voices are what C. G. Jung called complexes, and they are tricky devils. After years of working with Freud—father of deep dark psychological weirdness—and administering word-association tests at the psychiatric clinic of Zurich, Jung noticed that people’s micro-reactions to certain words were driven by emotional patterns they couldn’t see themselves. Jung believed that these emotional responses were driven by the archetypal energies collected within an individual’s personal unconscious, showing up as a theme inspired by their own personal experiences.
Let me break that down a little more. A certain thought—let’s say riding a bike—could trigger the activation of an emotional pattern, maybe getting rude and blustery about how bikes are dangerous. The individual is unconscious of their bizarre reaction, because they are ultimately ignorant to the fact that this behavior is actually a work-around to some interior sore spot that was triggered. Maybe what was triggered is that their father refused to teach them how to ride a bike, and then behind that, that their father seemed pretty ambivalent to them in general.
Our complexes follow us around the clock, and we are likely completely oblivious to not only their reality, but how they dictate our behavior. It took me a long time to see that I would get so pissed and cold when friends would talk about their other friends, and even longer to figure out why, until (in therapy) I realized I had a fear of abandonment from being miserable and friendless as a kid.
But sometimes complexes rise up in us not as a behavioral issue, but as a voice. Sometimes the complex will speak to us, serving its purpose in our heads and hearts rather than in our interactions with others. This is something we all experience on a daily basis, but if we with a complex instead.
I’ll give you an example. I spent a long time directing my life to the ultimate goal of being a performer, and I truly believed I was destined for it. But when that path was derailed, I was forced into that mucky work of learning how to hear my inner truth. I did all the things I could think to do. I was at yoga three times a week, I went to meditation classes, I read book after book on finding yourself, I drew, I sang, I went on retreats and spent hours at home in intentional solitude. Still, that inner voice never came through with real clarity. Instead my head was roiling from all the sound that rose up in me, a cacophony of voices telling me a hundred different truths: You aren’t as talented as you think, Nobody really loves you, You have to work harder, You are destined for greatness. Because I had opened myself for my deeper truths to come forward, all the false ones were banging at the door.
Thankfully, I was taking really good emotional care of myself, and I knew to be wary of all these voices. I knew that my deeper truth would be behind all the complex-chatter, and I would have to be patient. I knew that before I could really hear her, I had to ask all the other stuff to be a bit more quiet. I had to bear the voices telling me I was worthless, I was divine, no one liked me, everyone was jealous of me, etc., and every time I had to respond, “Thanks, but who are you?” I realized that getting quiet within myself was only step one. The next step was differentiating between who’s talking, and being gentle with them.
After a few years of this work, one day I heard her, just faintly behind another voice telling me how much I had failed myself. As I reminded this complex that I was doing all that I could to care for myself, I could hear her saying softly that I was doing beautifully. That’s it, that’s all she had to say. And that was worth it all the work, for that first clear moment of connection, realignment, integration of my deepest self.
So what does this work really entail? How do we know when we’re hearing our inner truths and when we’re hearing all the other voices that have grown within us? A common practice in Jungian analysis is to name the various voices that come up. Pay close attention to the way your they speak to you, and even closer attention to what draws them out. Maybe one voice pops up when you feel particularly nervous, telling you you’re destined to be famous in order to console you. Maybe another comes up after being ignored by a friend, telling you that you are too hard to love as a reflection of your inner wounds. After a while you get to know their different triggers and patterns, and you can identify them immediately when they speak.
The next step is to create a boundary between you and the complex-voice. A simple, gentle reminder such as, “This is only a voice in me, it is not my inner truth,” should help you not get swept away by its message. The voices will not stop, but they will be much softer, and maybe then there will be room for the deepest voice in you to rise up and help you heal your life. Good luck, my dears!