Is your Inner Voice Steering You Right?

Learn how to make better choices for yourself.



(sun ok /

Your inner voice is that silent thought process that allows you as an individual to communicate with yourself. It is referred to as gut instinct or moral compass and more often than not, you will find that you rely on it to help you make decisions. You can always “hear” your inner voice talking to you.

 Fast Company reports that people make ten or more small decisions every 15 minutes, according to a new book, Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices. Some of them are relatively inconsequential, while others can change the course of their lives. But is your inner voice always steering you in the right direction?

It begins in childhood
It is thought that people’s ability to have an internal monologue is developed during childhood in what’s called, “private speech,” according to Healthline.

As children acquire language, they engage in internal commentary as a way of understanding their surroundings. An inner voice may be formed by early life experiences that are internalized and shape the way people think about themselves, reports PsychAlive. An imaginary friend is also a type of inner voice.

As you age, inner speech supports your working memory and is part of other types of cognitive processes. And that internal monologue just might help you complete everyday tasks including your job.

Be your own decision advisor
Your inner voice can be influenced by your peers, your family, and societal influencers. It’s also influenced by your memory which can gloss over past bad decisions or even record negative stimuli. For example, a child will pick up on the negative attitudes of parents or primary caregivers and internalize them about themselves, reports PsychAlive.

Wise Decisions, Co-authors Dr. Jim Loehr and Dr. Sheila Ohlsson Walker, call the inner voice that guides you “YODA,” which stands for Your Own Decision Advisor.

YODA likes to soothe your ego by making excuses about past bad decisions. “It’s very disturbing when you realize that our brains are a fiction-making machine,” Loehr, who is a performance psychologist and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, told Fast Company. “We make up all kinds of crazy things to help us feel better and to justify the decisions that we’ve made. The inner voice is the one who arbitrates a lot of that maneuvering around the truth, so we have to be very careful. It’s a master storyteller and far more important than you may realize.”

Not everyone believes that the inner voice can lead them astray. “The ‘real’ voice that is ours is our gut feeling, that inner voice we have that makes us feel when things are right or wrong, that we have to guide us through life,” writes Matilde Wergeland for Balance. “This voice and feeling is incredibly important to listen to since it is always right. Even when you doubt it, it always turns out to be right.”

Train your inner voice
Adults have the power to shape their inner voices and help them become inner advocates, rather than inner adversaries. Loehr and Ohlsson Walker outline a seven-tiered process of self-understanding that allows you to analyze thoughts and decisions based on reason, emotion, intuition, and science. It also helps you recognize any negative or critical voices that you might have absorbed and consciously steer away from them.

Ultimately, to improve your decision-making abilities, you must learn to filter out the noise of your own doubts and outside influences to hear and process your inner voice.

“When you don’t get down to elements of who we are and how we want to show up in the world over the long game of life, it’s easy to make impulsive decisions that we just haven’t really unpacked,” Ohlsson Walker told Fast Company.

 “Be conscious, deliberate, and intentional,” added Loehr. “Tap into the noblest part of yourself and educate your YODA with all the information it needs so you can have confidence that you’re doing your best.”

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