July 23, 2013

Meet the Worm (Your Inner Voice).

Take heed of that wiggling, niggling gut feeling!

We all have that inner voice, that nauseating gut instinct telling us the things we really need to know, but often deny. Call it intuition, psychic seconds or just a very clever, fast, computing subconscious that knows how to make a snap judgment—it’s there and we know it. Whether we listen to it or not makes all the difference.

A dear friend of mine, healer and author Anne Jones, has given this instinctive thought/voice/feeling a name. She calls it “The Worm,” which really is the perfect name for what it is. Like all worms, this one niggles and wriggles, it pokes you incessantly at the back of your mind, reminding you of whatever it is he feels you should know. He squirms his way up in between the tiniest of gaps in your thinking. He’s just always there until you listen to what he’s trying to tell you.

I’ve become a great fan of The Worm and he, a wonderful friend to me. I had recently left a very difficult place where individual voices were often suppressed and personal feelings pooh-poohed away for more ‘logical’ and ‘reasonable’ arguments. There were many, many times in recent years where The Worm had poked his head up; there had been warning signs that situations in this place didn’t feel right anymore or that things just weren’t working for me.

I’d ignored The Worm because I couldn’t properly reason with those feelings and thoughts (so I thought). It would seem to the outsider that every situation or doubt could have been very clearly and logically explained away. On the inside though, there was nothing but havoc, unhappiness and fear.

In the end, when I finally chose to leave, I looked back and realized that everything The Worm had been trying to tell me had been true—that place and its methods just weren’t helping me find more happiness, peace or self-empowerment, even though these were the very reasons I had chosen to be there in the first place.

We’ve all had inexplicably strong feelings about something or someone, without any real, logical basis.

In the blink of an eye, within a few tiny seconds when we meet someone new and shake their hands, we know from the deepest, churning recesses of our gut, whether something will or won’t work out—a business deal, a relationship, a spiritual path, a friendship. We can’t explain why; we just know.

On paper, for example, a business proposal could seem immaculate, bound for nothing but success and massive returns. Or a first date with that guy you just met may have gone perfectly, cut out of the best of a Meg Ryan rom-com. Anew job you’ve been offered seems like everything you’ve ever wanted.

But then, right there at the least plausible moment, The Worm starts his niggling and wiggling. You feel him prodding about the pit of your stomach, a sickening warning. There’s something about that business proposal that feels lacking, something about that hot guy that makes you not want to call him back just yet, something about that new job that makes your stomach clench. You don’t know why, but against all odds, something is telling you to stay well away from it all.

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes extensively about the “power of thinking without thinking,” of making the most important and truthful decisions within just the first two seconds of being presented with a situation. Citing well-researched examples of psychological experiments across varying disciplines, Gladwell suggests that sometimes all we need is a “thin slice” of any situation—two seconds, tops—to be able to assess a situation for what it really is.

It’s nothing magical. Gladwell attributes it to science: it’s a fact that our subconscious mind does have the incredible capacity to analyze a situation and churn out conclusions as quickly as any computer. In fact, Gladwell suggests, sometimes having too much information muddles our brains and obscures the decision-making process.

We do better and make more accurate decisions when we’re making nano-second snap judgments. Science has proven it, as have our own snap-feelings and (often maddening) experiences.

More often than not, if we choose to ignore The Worm, things take their course, go awry and land up right where we had actually, deep down inside, expected all along. We find ourselves messed up, sad, in more trouble than it was ever worth. We get cheated in that business deal two years down the line, the hot guy from that date is a serial liar and that new job is a debilitating step backwards in your career.

This isn’t to say that The Worm tells us absolute truths about whether something is entirely “good” or “bad.”  A bad feeling about something may not necessarily signal that that thing or person is inherently bad; it may just mean that this direction or decision may not be something that’s good or happy for you. It’s important to be aware of this distinction when you’re listening to the worm.  It’s not about going on a crazed, global rampage against something or someone; it’s about being in tune with what will be best for your own happiness and being true to that.

Listening to the worm isn’t just for monumental, life-changing decisions. When Anne talked to me about The Worm, she had said that this phenomenal, deep-down gut feeling can apply to anything—from something as important as deciding your life path and work, to whether you should have a fudgey double-chocolate cupcake for tea (well heck, that can be a very important decision too!).

There’s lots of sense in this because what we think are the most trivial decisions can often have the most severe consequences. Even things like what we eat and how we exercise can have profound effects on our bodies and health, so listening to what our bodies need on every level, including the physical (and The Worm will tell us what we need), shouldn’t be taken lightly or ignored.

The Worm is always there. If you look back on major events in your life—in work, play, love, health, finances and family—you’ll realize that he’s always been there. You’ve felt him and heard him. It’s whether you’ve chosen to listen to him or not that’s made all the difference.

Ultimately though, The Worm isn’t a Jiminy Cricket, sitting on your shoulder and whispering in your ear. The Worm is yourself, your own truest voice or higher self that knows you better than you think you know you.

If you choose to not listen to this voice—your own voice—things will somehow go wrong. You might even already know this if you’ve suffered the consequences of not listening. Then, as you’re nursing your wounds, The Worm pops his head up smugly, and says, “I told you so.”

It’s time to kick yourself, remind yourself over and over that “I had a feeling this would happen…” But, in all this ‘knowing,’ what really sucks is that that irritating little worm of a voice has been yourself all along. It’s bad enough not listening to someone else’s advice; it’s worse when that advice is your own.

This voice—this inner you—always knows precisely what’s going to be good/happy/successful for you and alerts you of what’s not. Instead of debating endlessly with The Worm (who really, is just you) or setting out to prove him (you, again) wrong, perhaps it’s time to save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble and choose, for a change, to just start listening.



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Assistant Ed: Katharine Spano/Ed: Bryonie Wise

 {Photo: via Pinterest}

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