When awakening at work, how do we deal with the different – and often competing – voices within us? In my experience, the best thing we can do is witness each voice, understand where they come from and what motivates them, and then ultimately make a conscious, informed decision. To assist in this journey of self-awareness and empowerment, I teach a concept called the Inner Boardroom.
Imagine all the voices within you sitting around a table having a discussion. Our inner environment can sometimes be much like an Inner Boardroom. Just like a board meeting for an organization, each person on the board has its strengths and limitations; its wise offerings, and its skewed perspectives that aren’t always helpful.
Utilizing the best qualities of your Inner Boardroom is a way of activating the best of your awareness, knowledge, and wisdom. It’s a way of activating your full potential. It’s a practical way of bringing Consciousness into work with you instead of leaving it behind in meditation.
The characters I identify in the Inner Boardroom are facets of awareness, and they include:
That’s probably anywhere from 3 or 4 more board members than you likely thought you had.
What most people do
Especially at work, most people lean on the intellect. Unfortunately, emotions come in and try to take the steering wheel. We rely on Intellect in a way that can take us out of alignment and sometimes even out of integrity. Meanwhile, Emotions are always bound and determined to get their needs met. So they might get your attention through an attack of low self-worth or they might sabotage a decision through overwhelm and stress.
If these are the only two voices in your Inner Boardroom that have your attention, you are limiting your potential and capacity. Additionally, relying on only two board members puts them at odds with each other. The tensions between the two increase; we rely on Intellect more to cope with Emotions, and when that’s inadequate then Emotions rear their heads even more intensely to try to get our attention.
A new alternative
Explore your other capacities. Each facet of awareness is meant to be used in partnership with the others. One isn’t meant to dominate.
Intellect – You are already friends with this one. You listen to it daily, probably a bit too much. It is an amazing data sorter. It is an amazing history tracker. It can’t always see or feel the future or what’s possible for you. It doesn’t take into account subtler information. The intellect is not the best inner CEO, but that’s the task most people give to it.
Emotion – If you are like most people, this one plays a noisy role in your inner boardroom already. If you stifle your emotions a lot, then Emotion probably plays a sneaky, passive-aggressive game in your Inner Boardroom. The question is, are you listening to and attuning to emotion? Separate from the decision-making process, emotion has important things it tries to tell you about what it needs, but most people don’t listen. When you get better at witnessing, listening to, and giving Emotion what it needs, it can be a better ally for you. Sometimes witnessing is all it needs. It doesn’t need to be indulged, just heard and noticed. Let Wisdom help you discern how to work with emotions.
Instinct – This is a natural mammal part of you. Your instinct picks up on things like others’ fear or confidence, potential threats, emotional safety, etc. Instinct can be wrong; it has a quick trigger around fear and can assess a situation to the negative, or it can miss things entirely. When instinct is on target, it can give you priceless information about a person, group, or situation that you would not get any other way.
Intuition – This covers the information or felt senses that don’t fall under any other category. I have often suspected that sometimes our intuition acts as the synthesizer for patterns and trends that we’ve subconsciously observed and logged somewhere in the back of the brain. Intuition expresses itself uniquely in each individual. Examples of intuition at work: The CEO who can accurately predict the long-term direction of a company or an industry; the manager who senses a problem brewing with employees without any obvious signs or signals; the colleague who spontaneously reaches out with a supportive message when you need it most. Like all the other board members, Intuition is fallible and can miss things or show you things that aren’t there, but it’s also a priceless contributor when on track.
Body – Your Body alerts you when you are going out of alignment, pushing too hard, or holding back. It alerts you when something isn’t right. It tells you about stress and overwhelm. Sadly, it’s probably the least listened to board member in the room, next to Wisdom. The key is to learn how to read and interpret the Body’s messages so that you can effectively take action.
Wisdom – My personal favorite. I’ve had clients call it inner knowing, truth, etc. – but you know when Wisdom speaks when your whole body feels grounded and you know it’s true. It’s also often the voice we don’t want to listen to because it illuminates truths that are not always easy to hear. It’s the presence of Consciousness. It can be the voice of Awakened Awareness. The most powerful role that Wisdom can play is the filter for all the other board members. Wisdom can assess the truth of Intellect, Emotion, Instinct, Intuition, and Body. Wisdom can synthesize all this input and guide a decision. This is why I recommend making Wisdom your inner CEO. Wisdom doesn’t know everything; it needs all the voices on the board, and there’s no replacement for any of them. But the ultimate decision-maker can be Wisdom.
Benefits to Listening to Your Inner Boardroom
Listening to these different voices within takes time, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the less time it takes. The short and long-term benefits can be powerful:
- Make clear, more holistic decisions
- Feel less consumed by stress and overwhelm
- Stay grounded and objective
- Stay in alignment with yourself – which can have numerous health benefits and emotional benefits.
- Act from greater integrity
- Ultimately, feel more harmony and peace
If you have not already explored these different facets of your inner ecosystem, I invite you to take the time to find and play with each one. Going on your own, authentic, exploratory journey is one of the best things you can do. Here are some tips for the road:
- It takes time and repeated experiences to notice your patterns. For example, with Instinct, you will notice over time that it has similar reactions to certain situations. When is it accurate? When is it slightly skewed? When is it making something out of nothing?
- Meditation, yoga, chi gong, and any mindfulness practice helps you notice and attend to all voices. The more your inner ecosystem is still and quiet, the easier it is to discern the different voices or parts of you.
- It takes time to trust Wisdom. Especially if you are new to Wisdom, it takes time to hear it, listen fully, and then trust it. I often recommend that people keep a Wisdom Journal for the express purpose of tracking what Wisdom says over time. It has a quieter voice than the others and takes some skill and practice to listen.
- Wisdom’s voice is often located “below the mind.” I’ve learned that most of my clients can better hear Wisdom when they tune into their heart or gut.
- Use inquiry to illuminate all the different voices. In the same way that the right questions can catalyze the best discussions in a regular board meeting, playing with new inquiry questions can unlock insights and knowledge within you. For example, when making a big decision, you might explore the following questions: 1. What are all the things I know to be true, beyond a shadow of a doubt? 2. What are the things I feel about this decision? 3. What does my instinct or intuition tell me? 4. How does my body feel about this decision? 5. What does my Wisdom know about this decision?
- Access outside mirrors for your Inner Boardroom. These are people who reflect Wisdom back to us, or share their resonant intuition, support us emotionally, help us tune into our bodies, etc. This could be a colleague, coach, therapist, healer, teacher, wise friend, etc.
There’s a lot more to explore about this, and I’d love to keep the dialogue going. What are you realizing by working with the Inner Board Room? What questions do you have? Stay in touch at http://www.awakenatwork.com/contact.
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