How to Follow Your Own Lead
This is a true story about inner guidance, self-love…and fear. It’s also a very personal story and I hesitated to share it. Yet I felt called to share it because, after years of working with clients who doubt their own inner wisdom, I sensed it would resonate with many. So, here goes.
For several years I was very involved with an organization devoted to personal enlightenment. It was founded by a spiritual teacher who is brilliant and whose work can powerfully transform lives. For ease in telling this story, I’ll refer to her organization as Spirit, Inc.
I became part of that teacher’s inner circle. I was featured on her website and her group calls, I served as a mentor to other students, I regularly offered classes focused on her teachings, I hosted a very successful weekend retreat that she led, and I introduced dozens of my clients to her teachings and process. I integrated her work fully into my own.
And during that time, my business grew to new levels. I was thrilled about that, of course, yet deep inside me was a tiny seed of unrest. It merely skimmed the outskirts of my awareness, though, and it was easy to ignore.
So I ignored it…for a while.
Let me pause here and share a little backstory. For years I’ve been fascinated by the idea and understanding that there is a Divine Intelligence orchestrating the innumerable complexities of our universe and our experience within it – and that we, as individuated expressions of the Divine, have personal access to that intelligence. We are loved. We are supported. We are guided. This unfathomably great, loving, infinitely wise presence wants to thrive through us, as us.
Our job is to open to it, recognize it and let it guide us.
I’ve learned that it speaks to us through our feelings, our felt sense of yes or no about things, our intuition, our impulses, our dreams (both day and night), and our heartfelt longings. It also speaks to us through symbols and synchronicities, through “aha!” moments of recognizing important messages when we see or hear something that stirs us or opens us or awakens us.
But it rarely speaks to us in plain English.
And that has frustrated me at times, I must admit. As much as I’ve grown through my cultivation of those other avenues of guidance – as magical and moving as exploring them has been – there are times when I just want clear, unambiguous guidance, spoken to me in clear, unambiguous words.
Okay, enough of the backstory. When we left off, I was fully immersed in Spirit, Inc., which had become a significant part of my now-thriving business. The little seed of unrest was tossed about on the waves of success, barely visible when it wasn’t completely submerged.
Then one Sunday afternoon, I followed an impulse and chose to sit down and read a book instead of tackling the many items on my to-do list. I settled into my big, comfy chair and gave myself full permission to honor what, on the surface, appeared to be procrastination.
The house was quiet, I was relaxed and I found myself easily absorbed in the book. I lost track of time. It was glorious.
At one point I felt prompted to put the book down. In a matter of seconds I felt what I can only describe as a big ball of fiery energy rolling up my spine, from my sacrum all the way to the top of my head and beyond. The movement was incredibly powerful and I was literally propelled forward and upward, out of my chair to a standing position.
It was at once electrifying, ancient and awe-inspiring. I was fully engulfed in the experience and my mind was completely still. The book, and all of my thoughts about it, had disappeared. I experienced myself as pulsating energy, awake and alive and brimming with potential.
And then I heard a voice. It wasn’t a voice in the usual sense of the word; it was a fully-formed thought, a knowing, a command that simply appeared, like a genie from a puff of smoke, in my now-empty mind.
And it spoke to me in plain English.
This is what it said: “Let go of Spirit, Inc. It is confining you.”
As the thought made its presence known, my energy expanded even further. I was standing in my living room, feet planted firmly on the floor and arms extended to the heavens, vibrating with waves of energy from head to toe and back again. I knew with absolute certainty that this was my truth.
I stood in that position until the waves of energy subsided. The experience was so extraordinary I still cannot find the words to fully describe it. It was sacred and mind-blowing and other-dimensional and absolutely, positively real. It was every bit as real as anything I normally think of as “reality.”
The guidance itself felt true and loving and filled with integrity. It was everything I’d ever asked for: clear, unambiguous guidance spoken to me in clear, unambiguous words.
And yet…I didn’t follow it. At least, not right away.
Shortly after the incredible experience had subsided, I sat in stillness to take it all in. I knew it was guidance – I really did – but a new wave was rising in me: a wave of fear. At that time, Spirit, Inc., represented almost 50% of my business. My accountant mind started reeling off the numbers and warning me of impending doom if I pulled out. It seemed ridiculous to think that Spirit, Inc., was confining me; after all, it had been a big catalyst for the expansion of my business.
I started looking for other interpretations of the message; perhaps it meant that I needed to let go of one particular aspect of my relationship with Spirit, Inc., or perhaps it meant that I needed to let go of how I was thinking about my relationship with Spirit, Inc. I worked hard to figure out how I could honor the guidance and honor the fear at the same time.
I know, it sounds crazy. How can you honor confidence and doubt at the same time? But here’s the thing: attempting to do so was the most self-loving thing I could have done. As clear as the guidance was, I had to give myself the space I needed to address the fear. I took baby steps, and they were often clumsy. I stumbled and backtracked and regrouped.
But I never forgot the guidance, and I never gave up on following it. I just gave myself time.
It took me almost a year and a half to finally, fully act on the guidance I received that Sunday afternoon. When I did, I felt a sense of liberation and peace that confirmed the wisdom of my choice. Within days a flood of new opportunities flowed to me, along with refreshed inspiration for my writing. I now feel at peace, optimistic and profoundly grateful.
A very tiny part of me wants to point out that, had I acted on the guidance when I received it, I could have enjoyed these incredible benefits sooner. But that part of me doesn’t yet understand that, had I forced myself to ignore the fear and act on the guidance immediately, I would have missed the whole point of opening to a loving universe.
Yes, inner guidance is here to support us. But this journey isn’t about getting it “right,” right away. It’s about recognizing that, fundamentally, we can’t get it wrong. It’s about slowing down to acknowledge all the parts of ourselves, even the scared ones, and giving them space and time to be integrated into the whole of who we are. It’s about loving ourselves forward, not pushing ourselves forward.
My guidance wasn’t a threat. It wasn’t telling me to “let go…or else.” It was saying, “As good as things are, there is more for you! Things can get even better! Let’s take this path and see how much you can grow.”
And let me be very clear: the guidance I received was for just for me, which is a hallmark of inner guidance. It’s personal. Spirit, Inc., remains an extraordinary process which serves many people in a profound way. I have been honored and expanded by the brilliant souls I have met through my own Spirit, Inc., experience, and it will always be a part of who I am. Yet I realized that I would never be totally at peace representing someone else’s work when I’ve yet to give full voice to my own.
So the beat goes on. I continue to grow and evolve, and I’ve gained newfound respect for the power and precision of inner guidance – and for the power and purpose of self-love. Together, they’re unbeatable.