Connecting with Your Inner Sage
Podcast Opening over Theme Music:
Hello and welcome. This is Kate's Nuggets, the podcast where I share bite-size nuggets of wisdom about self-leadership. I am your host, Kate Arms. I invite you to listen lightly, let these ideas wash over you. Take what you take and let the rest go. You can always come back and listen again.
Today I want to talk about an idea I call your Inner Sage.
Your Inner Sage is the part of you that is always calm, creative, courageous, curious, compassionate, connected, clear and confident. For most of us, when our Inner Sage is running the show is when we feel most like ourselves. There's a sense in which this part of us feels truer and more authentic than any of the other personas or sub-personalities that we might portray or be or act as or think as throughout our lives.
We all have sub-personalities.
The way sub-personalities work is that whenever we have a pattern of neuronal firing that is activated, we have a way of thinking that is reflected in that pattern. This leads us to behave a certain way and
think a certain way.
If we stayed with that set of neurons activated, we would be consistent in that set of habits, but life is not consistent. We get a new stimulus from our senses and that triggers different neurons to fire. Then we have a different set of pathways that have wired together that create a different set of thoughts and patterns.
You can have the experience where one part of you wants to do one thing and another part of you wants to do something different. Then there's another part of you that activates, that can see the whole thing.
Your Inner Sage is the part that can see all the parts of you.
The Inner Sage gets to observe. From this place of calm, clear, confident compassion, it can wisely
choose the actions to take. It activates the pathways that will lead to the behaviour that is desired.
The Inner Sage knows what matters most to you, knows what makes you feel most alive, knows what impact you want to have in the world, and is committed to making choices that set you forward in
motion towards what matters most to you, what really matters most to you.
Many sub-personalities, on the other hand, are committed to meeting a single need or avoiding
discomfort. Many of our sub-personalities are habits and behavioral patterns that we have developed over time to avoid doing things we're not good at, things that make us uncomfortable, and things that are a little bit scary. A lot of them are defense mechanisms. One of the things the Inner Sage can help us do is choose to use different skills and not run away from the things that we need to move towards to accomplish what matters most to us.
One of the things that happens as we develop into mature adults is we sacrifice short-term comfort for the things that matter most to us because we realize that we don't just need positive feelings and ease and comfort in our lives. We also need a sense of agency, a sense of meaning, relationships that matter to us, and a sense of accomplishment.
A sense of accomplishment almost never comes from following what's easy. A sense of accomplishment almost always comes from doing something difficult. If we only go towards what feels good and easy, we never have a sense of accomplishment.
Our Inner Sage knows that and helps us make the choice to do the difficult thing or the right thing in cases where we have value judgments and moral judgments.
The Inner Sage is also incredibly powerful when we experience dissatisfaction with ourselves: a sense that we're not living up to our expectations. When we're not doing what we could do. Our inner senses of shame and guilt.
Our Inner Sage is able to tell whether we are being influenced by other people's opinions, by the society around us, by a sense of feeling inferior to other people and competition with other people, or whether we are feeling dissatisfied with ourselves, with our own commitment and our own actions in service of being the people that we want to be in the world, and doing the things that give us satisfaction in terms of accomplishment and meaning.
When we get our Inner Sage activated, we can observe all these parts of ourselves. We can observe our interactions with the rest of the world, and we can choose the courageous, calm, confident, compassionate thing that makes us feel like we are authentically us doing what matters most to us, being fully alive.
We are able to see our uniquenesses, our needs, our limitations. We get to see ourselves with compassion and empathy. We get to have autonomy and we can develop self-control by choosing to act according to the wisdom of our Inner Sage.
Now, in order to activate our Inner Sage, we have to make sure that we are not functioning from a threatened place with adrenaline and cortisol running through our system. The first thing we need to do is we need to make sure our sympathetic nervous system stands down.
What we need to do is find a way to connect, and for each of us, we're going to find different things that work.
One thing that works for most people is really close observation of the physical sensations that are coming in through our nervous system, through our sensory receptors. Our sense of touch, taste, smell, hearing, sound, our interoceptive sense, our sense of what's going on inside our body in terms of internal organs and that sort of thing. That feeling of I've got butterflies in my stomach or I'm hungry. Those are interoceptive sensors that are giving us that information.
Then our proprioceptive senses are the ones that tell us where our body is in space. If you close your eyes and put your arms out to the side and you try and touch your nose with your finger, with your eyes closed, you're using your proprioceptive senses.
How can we activate those?
Well, for one thing, you can feel where your body is touching the ground. You can feel the earth supporting your weight. You can notice the temperature of the air on your skin. You can hear very closely, and listen to the sounds in your environment. You can look very closely at the things in front of you. These very physical grounding sensations can help you find your wise, clear, compassionate, calm self.
Another tool you can use is you can use your body as a sculpture. Think of a time when you were really calm, confident, compassionate, courageous, and being your best self. Let your body become a sculpture of how you were being in that moment, or a sculpture that if somebody looked at it would say, "Oh, look, there's the best version of you." You might find that there's music that you move to in a way that makes you feel like that person, a poem that takes you there, or song lyrics.
You might also imagine, is there a character in fiction that makes you think of that best version of yourself? Is there an image or metaphor? An animal? Imagine if you were going to dress as that version of yourself for Halloween, what would your costume be?
Whatever helps you connect to that version of yourself, find it.
Once you have found that version of yourself and one or more ways of accessing it, the next thing is to practice at various times during the day, during various activities. Just checking in and finding that part of yourself. Finding your Inner Sage and asking, "What would that part of you do in any given situation?"
Like any of these other tools, it's easiest to practice when you're not stressed.
Try it at random times when you're not stressed. Then when you are stressed, it will be more easily accessible to you. Maybe you're stressed all of the time. Then just try it anytime and know that the underlying stress will make it harder but the underlying stress will also make it more impactful when you succeed. You can celebrate a greater accomplishment if your only opportunity to practice is when you're under stress.
Here's to you finding and getting to know your Inner Sage and experiencing life with the Inner Sage in charge.
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Here's to Thriving! Catch you next time.
Kate's Nuggets is a Signal Fire Coaching production. The music is adapted under license from Heroic Age by Kevin McLeod.