A Deep Inner Knowing

Do you ever experience the feeling of knowing deep down in your heart or soul about something? Maybe it’s a feeling or knowing that you are right where you are supposed to be? That things on the outside may look tenuous but you just know that it’s going to be alright. What a comforting feeling that can be.

I was meeting with a 24 year old client the other day who is well beyond her years in terms of self-awareness and wisdom…someone we might call an old soul. I heard myself telling her what I’ve told so many people in the past, including myself, that we are a society of extroverts and we judge ourselves and others by how much we “do” and how much we “have” but that I truly believe our internal world is much more important than our external. And it’s where nobody else can see or judge or tell us it’s right or wrong, only we know for certain.

We may think we have an idea of what someone’s internal world is like by what they display externally but often it doesn’t match. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know covers this extensively.

I’ve seen this over and over again in my practice as a psychotherapist. People often present well but after metaphorically peeling back the onion, their internal landscape is very different from how they are viewed by the world. We really never know for sure what is going on for someone internally.

October is Depression and Mental Health Awareness and Screening month. Many celebrity actors and athletes are being very transparent about their struggles with mental illness. I applaud them. It helps lessen the stigma around mental illness and allows others to feel ok about admitting their struggles and seeking help. There are many different modalities and techniques to treat mental illness. There isn’t one “correct” way to get treated. It can be a hard system to navigate. I would recommend talking to people whom you know and trust to help you get the care you need. Psychologytoday.com is a good resource. If you click on this link and then click on “find a therapist” at the top and enter your zip code you can view therapists who are located near you with pictures and descriptions of their methods of treatment to get a sense of that clinician. Finding a therapist that you really like and trust is so important! Only you will know that for yourself. You have to trust your intuition or inner-knowing to figure that out.

Another area of inner knowing I want to discuss briefly, as I seem to be dealing with it a lot since living back here, and that is religion. I’m surrounded by religious people who say they are certain about the meaning of life, who to worship, and what happens after we die. Who am I to say they are wrong but what can we do about such strong beliefs without scientific evidence? Many Christians would say that’s where faith comes in. I’m not here to challenge that, necessarily, but I do wonder how Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Atheism can each claim to be the truth and all be diametrically opposed?

I suppose it’s another example of having to find your own inner-knowing or to be ok not-knowing for sure and to be open to exploring or changing your mind. Science doesn’t always have it right either. But I think the system of science is not static and is set-up to allow for changes as new or updated information presents itself. New information and theories prove old ones wrong with new evidence and proof. I worked at a teaching hospital in Seattle, where each medical team consisted of an attending physician, a resident, and a med student who came to all the units to treat patients. All members of the teams had vast amounts of education and knowledge and yet these teams would regularly disagree on diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment plans. I learned that “facts” are often about how science is interpreted.

I feel like I’ve been all over the place here. All these competing thoughts and beliefs and views can be overwhelming. Having a calm internal world in the midst of it all can be challenging. Nevertheless, I believe that when we can slow down and quiet our chatty minds and be silent, that is when we can more clearly discern our internal knowing. We can’t put that on anyone else. And maybe, like science, our knowing changes. But we can relax and whatever the internal-knowing or not-knowing is in this moment…it is ok.

I’ll close with a line from a Brian Gaeta meditation I did today. I choose to lead with my loving heart instead of my thinking mind.

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