Heed Your Internal Guide
There is an instinct we were born with and that most of us have been taught to suppress: the instinct for happiness. If you doubt me, watch small children.
Let’s say a four-year-old does something he’s not supposed to.
His punishment is a “time out” which means he must sit or stand quietly in one spot. The first 5-10 minutes are spent bargaining and trying to charm or badger his way out of the situation. But once the reality sets in that there’s no way out, he will find a way to entertain himself. You’ll hear him acting out some story he’s made up in his head or he’ll start to sing or maybe draw pictures on the wall with his finger. Not only that but once it’s over, it’s over. He won’t spend hours haranguing his parents, “How could you do that to me?” Once released, he’ll go merrily on his way to other things that make him happy.
Small children heed their internal guidance system and it is always leading them towards feeling good. They instinctively know how to “get over it” because their top priority is happiness. Somewhere along the line, most of us lose the “get over it” skill. Adults hold grudges. You ask someone to do something and she’s thinking, “You know, normally I would love to but remember 25 years ago when you yelled at me? Well, this is your payback.”
The instinct for happiness is still within each of us. Your Internal Guide uses your emotions to set you on the best path. It’s truly as simple as: if you’re feeling positive emotions, your Internal Guide is telling you you’re on the right track. If you’re feeling negative ones, you’re not.
Here is a productive way to heed your Internal Guide. Routinely ask, “What could I do right now that would make me feel better?” Your Internal Guide will flood your imagination with possibilities.
As a child I suffered from school night insomnia. I would lie awake every night until 3 or 4 AM worried about what was going to happen to me the next day when my teacher found out I hadn’t done my homework. I would sneak into the bathroom and read, rearrange my dad’s medicine cabinet alphabetically (which really made him mad) or endlessly scrutinize my face in the mirror.
Never once in all those years of suffering did it occur to me to sneak into the bathroom and yes, you guessed it, DO MY HOMEWORK!!!
If I’d had the tools, I would have asked myself, “What could I do right now that would make me feel better?” instead of lying in fear night after night.
A good deal of negative emotion involves feelings of fear. Today I live by one of my most impactful realizations:
Action cancels fear—every time!
We’ve all heard the axioms:
You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
It turns out they are true. Have you ever felt happy as you focus on your problems? No! Have you ever felt hopeful while focusing on your problems? No! Have you ever felt good plotting your boss’ demise? (Okay, trick question.) One of the reasons we get so physically agitated when we are upset is because our Internal Guide is telling us to start looking for a solution!
Heed your Internal Guide! If it feels good, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t!
Someone inevitably asks, “What if the solution you think will make you feel better is to rob a bank?” Let’s ponder this, shall we? For even the coolest bank robber it’s an incredibly stressful job. Imagining all that money might make him happy but the journey toward that money carries enough stress to fell the most hardened criminal.
Practice Passionate Self Care today by periodically asking, “What could I do right now that would make me feel better?” Ask EVEN IF YOU ALREADY FEEL GOOD!
Set an alarm on your watch, Smartphone or computer if you can and answer the question each time it pops up. You will be blown away by the quality of your day.