Listening to Your Inner Voice
Whether your inner voice is loud and clear or more of a whisper, listening to it can be a great source of guidance when you need it most.

What is the inner voice?

“You can think of your inner voice almost like your highest self, explains professional intuitive and author of Self-Care for Empaths Tanya Carroll Richardson. "It's that wise part of you that can float high above the details of the moment, your own emotions, and the emotions of others to get an eagle-eye, more objective perspective on a situation."
Whether your inner voice is responding to a present situation, reflecting on a past experience, or helping to guide you in the future, astrologer and author of Cosmic Health Jennifer Racioppi says, "No matter what, the inner voice is the voice of truth—our unique voice of truth that comes from within. Simply put, our inner voice is our innate intelligence."
And when we listen to it, she adds, we turn inward "to hear what our body and soul have to say before looking to the world outside of ourselves for direction."

Inner voice vs. intuition:

If you're familiar with the concept of intuition, you might be wondering, what's the difference between intuition and your inner voice?
According to Racioppi, they are both the voice of insight and arguably the same thing: "however, our inner voice may feel more matter-of-fact, as it's often thought of as the voice of the soul and our unique voice." On top of that, the inner voice is available anytime, while accessing intuition can require practice, she says.
She and Richardson both note that people receive intuition in four ways: hearing intuitive guidance as a gentle voice in your mind (clairaudient); seeing intuitive guidance as images in your mind (clairvoyant); knowing intuitive guidance as breakthrough thoughts or mental downloads (claircognizant); or feeling intuitive guidance as physical, emotional, or energetic sensations (clairsentient).
"No matter how your intuition speaks to you," Racioppi says, "it is essentially your inner voice is perceiving, discerning, distilling, and communicating information in advance of you needing it."

Why should you practice listening to it? 

In all that you do, allowing your inner voice to guide you can help you show up as the best version of yourself. "It will help you fully discern your wisdom, guidance, and direction," Racioppi says, "and there's nothing more potent or powerful than trusting yourself and confidently following your truth."
Both she and Richardson work with clients, helping them get in touch with their own inner voice. To name just a few examples of how your inner voice can serve you, Racioppi says, "I have seen many miracles happen for my clients when they begin to hear, trust, and follow their inner voice. Things like getting a dream job, finding love, learning how to eat intuitively, feeling free to be their authentic selves," and so much more.
And, they both use their own inner voice in their daily lives: "I use my own intuition in sessions with clients every day," Richardson says. "Your sixth sense can give you out-of-the-box information you won't receive any other way. To ignore it would be to ignore a very wise, helpful, practical tool—as if a sailor were to ignore their compass."
"In my own life," Racioppi adds, "I have found my inner voice to the most crucial guide [...] It's instilled within me a deep trust that I count on myself and my experience of being embodied to guide me through life. It's a priceless feeling."

10 practices to get in touch with your inner voice.

If the whole inner voice thing is new to you, it can feel difficult to tap into it, especially if there are a lot of outward demands for your time and attention. Here are Richardson and Racioppi's tips to start accessing your inner voice:

Create space in your life and schedule.
When you're rushing through your days, the mind can race too, Richardson notes, so make sure you're giving yourself time to slow down. "The best way to tap into your inner voice is to create more space between your thoughts so your intuition can get a word in edgewise."
Practice deep listening.
Active listening involves releasing judgment (and the impulse to respond) when someone else is speaking, fully tuning in to what they're saying. "When we practice listening to others," Racioppi says, "we develop the capacity to listen to ourselves. And this is precisely what you need to listen to your inner voice and receive the guidance it wants to offer."

Don't neglect self-care.
Your own self-care practices can greatly influence your ability to tap into your inner voice, Richardson says. "Simply up your self-care game, and you will be amazed at how much more information you receive from your inner voice!"
Try journaling in the morning.
Racioppi recommends a practice called morning pages, which comes from Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. "It's the practice of journaling three handwritten pages each morning that are a stream of consciousness," she explains. "Write anything that comes to mind to get going, and usually, by the end of the third page, your inner voice has revealed clear and concrete direction."

Develop boundaries.
Strong boundaries are essential in so many areas of our lives, particularly so if we're trying to access our inner voice. "Nothing will override your inner knowing more than letting other people's thoughts, demands, needs, desires, and authority override your own," Racioppi says. So, learn how to say no, check in with yourself before saying yes to anything, and learn to trust yourself, she adds.
Learn more about intuition.
We all have a sixth sense, inner voice, or level of intuition just waiting to be tapped into, Richardson says. But, "many times what holds us back from maximizing our intuitive potential is not having enough knowledge of the sixth sense," she notes. "Simply studying your intuition can awaken and strengthen your inner voice."
Racioppi adds, "By getting to know how your intuition speaks to you, you'll deepen your capacity to receive information, and more importantly, you'll attune yourself to understanding to your unique ways of being guided."
Get curious about fleeting moments of insight.
Your inner voice and intuition—even when matter-of-fact—are easy to ignore, Racioppi says. "They are subtle feelings, a quiet knowing, and a gentle guidance system. They will not override your choices, you have to choose them."
It's easy to brush over an aha moment, a wave of goosebumps, or a weirdly specific dream, but the more we learn to pay attention in those instances, the better we'll become at discerning and understanding them. If it helps, Racioppi recommends tracking those moments in a journal.
Mind your physical and mental health.
If you want to access your higher knowing, you'll need to make sure your baseline needs are taken care of too, Richardson says. "Get whatever emotional support you need from loved ones and professionals," she says. Additionally, "maintaining more balance in your physical body through a healthy diet, supplements, and moderate exercise can help you feel more balanced emotionally. When your system feels balanced, it can be easier to discern the difference between your inner voice and an emotional reaction."