The Gift of your Inner Mentor
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen” - Rumi
Let me start by saying I have always sensed there was another voice, a guide of sorts that would walk us through everyday challenges while mapping out how to find our way when lost in the wilderness. However, especially in professional settings, it can be tough to identify and name this voice. Professionally speaking, you may hear it slip out from under the radar through colleagues saying ‘I have a hunch’, ‘my instinct tells me’, or even ‘did you notice the shift in energy?’ All of these comments link to an inner wisdom that we have access to, “a kind of knowing that resides in the background and is often unspoken because for many people, it’s not easy to trust. Our culture doesn’t validate intuition as reasonable means of drawing conclusions or making decisions so we hesitate to say what our intuition tells us” (Kimsey-House et al., 2018, p. 14).
The Coaches Training Institute was my first real experience in community to formally name what this other voice was. We called it intuition, hidden wisdom, an inner mentor - there to support you all along as an internal resource. What a thought! According to Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big, it can be shocking to realize our inner mentor may be “a composite of all the most important parts of me that I had left behind” and often shows us how to “step outside the norms of time and place, be a courageous change agent, and transform our institution or industry” (2015, p. 34). As you build your relationship with the inner mentor over time, they can help navigate through different choices to create your most purposeful, fulfilled life.
So, what is it? The inner mentor is the voice of your older, wiser self. Think 20 years into the future. The ideal way to learn further details about this ally is through a guided visualization and reflective questions to fully engage the senses. They may indeed shine a light on creative solutions that you had locked or hidden away. In Canadian society, we tend to believe an external mentor is the best choice to guide us when faced with challenges. In reality, each of us hold within a deep source of inner wisdom. Tapping into this wisdom can help you create a life aligned to core values, recognize or build personal power, and prioritize wellness through stress or overwhelm. They can serve as an unconditionally compassionate ally with a rich, powerful story to write for your future (what a gift, indeed!).
So often it is the louder, more aggressive shouting inside our head (such as the inner critic) that shuts intuition down. Purposefully creating space for the voice of intuition can help you appreciate what a gift it really is. We need time to slow down and observe what it may be trying to tell us. Taking time for self-care and stillness through meditation, yoga, or journaling can create an ideal environment to clarify answers in an otherwise chaotic world. Messages may come through as a thought, image, feeling, hunch, or even a shift in energy. You can re-connect with your inner mentor at any point in time. The more you practice, the better your connection.
Additionally, the message from your inner mentor tends to be simple. It can also be surprising. For example, I recently had a major life decision that could significantly change my career path, lifestyle choices, and relationships in the community. I was truly torn between two options. After consulting with my inner mentor she had only two questions for me: ‘is it safe’ and ‘what could you learn?’ These were powerful, loaded questions at the time and given the context. Based on these simple messages I made a fairly prompt decision that felt grounded in reality and aligned to core values.
So, how do you listen more carefully for your inner mentor? I encourage you to invite compassion and lightness as you explore the following options:
1) We all have an internal dialogue – observe the voices. While some provoke positive change, others keep us stuck. Notice how you are interacting between them. Is one more of an ally? What is it trying to tell you?
2) Once you’ve identified an ally, ask specific questions. What does it look like? How do you feel when around them? What do they represent? This will illuminate the way you think and thoughts you believe.
3) Create something tangible - a piece of art, writing, music or artefact representing your inner voice. What metaphors or stories could be used to describe this to others?
4) Consider what would be included in your perfect day. What elements are already in your life? What is currently missing? What does this say about your future self?
5) Can you think of a recent example where you had a ‘gut reaction’ and didn’t act on it. What did you observe? What were the results? What could you have done?
6) To fully tap into your inner wisdom, slow down and do the guided visualization and reflective questions. This allows you to step outside of intellectual ‘knowing’ to become present with emotions and ‘being’
Remember, there is a part of us unaffected by fear or insecurities, radiating grace, creativity, and compassion to show up as our best self. Listen carefully to the gifts of your inner mentor.
Kimsey-House, H., Kimsey-House, K., Sandahl, P., & Whitworth, L. (2018). Co-active coaching: The proven framework for transformative conversations at work and in life (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Loy Darst, C. (2018). Meet your inside team: How to turn internal conflict into clarity and move forward with your life. Team Darst: Amazon Digital Services LLC.
Mohr, T. (2015). Playing big: Practical wisdom for women who want to speak up, create, and lead. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.