By: Emily Algar, IATG Contributor March 10, 2016
We tend to have this incessant gravitational pull to consume all and any self-help books, inspirational quotes, and advice given by famous people, which seem to be shoveled down our throats at an alarming rate at the moment.
We want our problems, our issues, our dilemmas (as well as fitness and diet tips) neatly packaged and preened into a tweet or post that we can “like” or “share” with our friends. We want a few words that speak to our so called profoundness and our ability to “rebirth” ourselves at a moment’s notice. It’s even better if any of the above are from our leading advice givers (Elizabeth Gilbert, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheryl Strayed, Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown etc).
I am not suggesting that we should burn our copies of Eat, Pray, Love or Wild, that we should disregard every piece of advice or self-help we’ve ever been given, or that we should put our motivational quote board in the rubbish bin. I actually found Strayed’s Wild to be poignant, relevant, and well-written, but at the end of the day, that was her story. It was her past and her experience, not mine, so it would be utterly ridiculous if I walked the Pacific Coast Trail in the hope of encountering the same experiences she had.
What I am trying to say is that this deluge of advice and motivational blogging is all well and good, but it’s just advice, just one person’s opinion based solely their experience.
If you presented this evidence to a social scientist on why you should travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia whilst simultaneously giving up your life because one person did it and it kinda worked out well for them, they would laugh in your face.
In the words of Robert Altman, “My advice would be: never take advice from anybody… If you take advice, you’re going to go the way that the person that’s giving you the advice went.”
In this culture of expert advice and opinion, we’re forgetting the most important person in the equation: ourselves.
We seem to be wearing blindfolds; our senses have become impaired and lazy. We’re forgetting what we really sound like, what we really need and want.
Everything is muffled. It’s like we’re not even trying, like we’ve forgotten what our own inner voice sounds like, what it feels like when it reverberates around ourselves. We’re not using our bearings, and it’s making us stupid, lazy, superficial, and unhappy.
We all have intuition. We all have that gut feeling, that gut instinct. It’s there. It’s animal. It’s buried beneath our muscle and bone. We feel it when we have the choice between taking the shortcut home or the long way around. We have it when a friend’s been bullshitting us, and we have it when we’re falling in love. It’s quiet, but it’s powerful. And when we do listen, it vibrates our entire being, and all our self-doubt and questioning is silenced.
Forget the head that asks you to calmly weigh up all the arguments, and take into account society, your friends, family, and employer. Forget the heart that is powerful, loud, and impulsive. In times of crisis, of deep personal turmoil, when you’re desperately scratching around in the dirt for an answer, it’s your gut feeling, your intuition that holds the key. We have forgotten to trust ourselves. We’re all directionless, all a little rudderless in this sea called life. It’s not a bad thing. No matter what those advice gurus say, we don’t need to be fixed. Sometimes we need to get battered about and pulled with the currents, because if you listen quietly, that voice, your voice, will speak and guide you to where you need to go.
The problem is, with all the distractions (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), the incessant hum of voices, the overwhelming workload, the never ending personal to do list, and the expectations from society and family, your voice tends to get trampled down and silenced. Listening to your voice, feeling it intensely, and acting on it often involves going against the flow of society. But sometimes saying no to the people you love and feel responsible for is what it takes to make you happy and allow you to really live.
In other words, sometimes we have to stand up and rock the boat, and sometimes even turn it over and swim against the tide, trusting our instincts.
Are you feeling a little partied out on self-improvement books, videos, or social accounts? Or do you want more? What’s your inner voice, our intuition, telling you? Take a minute and listen to your gut. You won’t regret it!
Emily Algar is an International Relations graduate who has just completed her Masters in International Security. She lives in a small town in Oxfordshire, UK where she writes, listens to music and walks her dogs. Since completing her studies, Emily is trying to figure out where she fits in the world and until she does, she is enjoying the ride.
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