“The Voice by Shel Silverstein

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”

I have quoted this before….In a past blog or post somewhere. I feel like it is so appropriate today as we try so hard to find our way in health and wellness. With the pressure of peers, communities, friends and even family all around us it’s hard sometimes to really know what is right for us, what to do and what to think. Many times we end up saying “yes” when we want to say “no”, we commit to things we have not one extra second of time for and we say things we wouldn’t normally say. How did we get so off track in our own bodies and minds? How did what others think become so important that we completely lose who we are? Why is how I look more important than how much I care about others?

Many things have happened in my life to throw me off my path; a very hard move from Minnesota to Tennessee when I was in 8th grade, hating school and feeling very out of place. I started smoking at 15, sneaking out of the house and drinking at 16 and all along I heard that voice. “Carmen you know better.” I did….but I cared more about how I looked to others and what others thought of me then I did about my own internal barometer for right and wrong. I started acting out more and more and getting in trouble in school, my grades fell and my parents were ready to ship me off to someone else to deal with until I straightened out.

Even with all of the things I did wrong there is something to be said for not listening to that voice inside. I wouldn’t trade one second of who I was for all those years…not one second. I became
this person I am today because of the experiences of not listening to that voice and doing everything against what I knew to be right.

Maybe that’s the purpose of ignoring it every now and then….to learn what is WRONG for us, to learn that what others think or say doesn’t really matter. To really learn it. Nothing taught me how hard losing a love was until I ignored that voice that said “He is going to break your heart over and over again” and he did. Nothing could have told me that “Eating cheese fries and smoking would make me fat and unable to breathe” like actually doing it. Yep, I got fat and it became a struggle to breathe. Staying out late partying and driving up my credit card bills was a blast…but payback was hell. I don’t live that way anymore. Those days are long gone. I have a lot of past experiences like that. I believe that making decisions that go against what we know inside to be right is part of learning. If we don’t ignore it every now and then how will we know how great doing the right thing feels? Yin and Yang, black and white, happy and sad. How do we know one without the other?

Despite what people are doing with their current health or where they have been there is NO judgement from me. I meet people where they are, I encourage my clients to drop the unhealthy guilt they carry from not making the best decision. Sometimes you just have to ignore that voice that you know is your deepest self, your God self if you will…saying “tsk tsk tsk you will regret thattttt” (insert sing song scolding voice)…and do it anyway. Then what?? What happens after we do that? Repent? Diet?? Punish yourself with excess running and exercise? Nope. Then….wait for it…… wait for it…..you get to learn from it and move ON.

I am writing this to give permission to do the WRONG thing every now and then and not punish yourself for it, not care about it, not confess to someone that you ate something “bad”. Permission to create a new direction for yourself that is totally different then the one you were headed in. Permission to just do what YOU want. But the catch is this. You have to be mindful of the choice and then learn from it. Otherwise it’s wasted. When we stop learning life ends…that is what I truly believe. I intend to learn for as long as I am alive and pass it on. Now go do the wrong (or right) thing…whichever you feel like doing.

In health and joy,