Which Voice is It?

Which Voice is It?



Re-examine all you have been told.

Dismiss what insults your soul.

    – Walt Whitman


In my last post (That Inner Voice), I talked about listening to, trusting, and acting on your inner voice. At the end, I asked this question:

So my question to you—horse people and dog people and cat people, all people—is this: Do you do your own research? Do you weigh alternatives? Do you listen to your inner voice? Or do you follow the crowd, make snap judgments based on emotion, follow the advice of the “experts” even when you know they’re wrong?

This was one response, from Sue:

I ask questions and I do my own research because it’s what I’m driven to do by nature and by training. I question the vet, I question my doctor (and if she’s really unlucky she gets 10-16 pages of research to read for her edification), and I don’t necessarily accept what I read at face value, either. I listen to my inner voice–and I also have to discern whether it’s my authentic inner wisdom speaking or whether it’s fear posing as my inner voice.


Ah, fear. The great destroyer.

Of course, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It’s that voice inside of you that says, “STOP! That’s really dangerous; you could seriously hurt yourself if you do it!”

But how many times has fear prevented you from doing something that would introduce you to a new experience or a new idea, something that would help you to stretch and grow, to nourish your mind, your soul?

The woman I talked about in “That Inner Voice” said she knew that barefoot was best for horses but that she couldn’t take her horses barefoot until her vet realized it was best. She said she hoped he’d catch on soon. I was stunned by this and wondered why she would not have acted on her knowledge and conviction.

Sue’s post got me thinking about fear and the part it may have played in this woman’s failure to act on her inner wisdom. I came up with a few possible reasons she succumbed to fear, reasons that I have at one time or another experienced myself:


Fear of being wrong and of either hurting your animal or—the more likely fear—of looking foolish

Fear of being different and, consequently, scorned or ridiculed by your peers

Fear of being abandoned by those in authority, such as the vet,  whose approval, and services, you don’t want to lose


So how can you determine whether what you are hearing is your “authentic inner wisdom speaking or whether it’s fear posing as [your] inner voice”?

The animals have taught me a great deal about this. Coupled with my Reiki training, the animals have taught me how to maintain my inner balance, to keep my center still, so that I can think not only with my mind, but with mind and heart together.

I have learned to recognize the first, tiny pricks of fear, which start deep in my belly. Recognizing the fear, I take steps to address it: by breathing, centering, and asking myself what it is that I am truly afraid of—the big fear, the one underneath the little fear. Writing about it can often help or talking to a friend or taking a walk in the woods or sitting on the shore of a lake.

When I am hearing my true inner voice, I sometimes get chills down my neck or an expansive feeling in my chest, as though it is filling with fresh, sweet air. My mind, having done its job of research and inquiry, lets go of the information, and I experience a quiet, solid knowing.

My horses have helped me to more clearly hear my inner voice. I am forced to be calm around them. Prey animals, horses are acutely aware of their surroundings. If I am stressed, they will become stressed. If I am anxious, they will become anxious. If I am fearful, they will become fearful.

The same is true of my Elika, a high-energy little dog. If I become stressed, she mirrors that stress. If I become anxious, she becomes concerned that she should be anxious, too.

And so the animals that share my life have taught me to slow down, to center, to be aware of my thoughts and my emotions. Doing so has helped me to calm the static, to acknowledge and confront fear, the noise that can keep me from hearing my inner voice.

My animal clients have taught me that if I am to hear them accurately, I have to calm my mind, have to listen with my heart. This exercise in calm, quiet, non-judgmental listening has helped me to more clearly hear my own inner voice as well.


How about you? Are you aware when fear may be clouding your judgment? Do you know when you are listening to your authentic inner voice?


I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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