by Cindy Wigglesworth: If the essence of SQ is, as I believe, shifting from ego to Higher Self, then it’s pretty important to find that nobler inner voice. There are many synonyms for Higher Self: Inner Wisdom, Spirit Self, Soul, Essence, Eternal Self, Authentic Self, Atman, Buddha nature, the Divine within, the Tao within, and so on. But what does it sound like? How can I know it?
Sometimes the voice of the Higher Self may feel unfamiliar to us — so much so that it is hard to relate to it as “self.” But I would argue it is actually our truest nature. You can find it by noticing its qualities.
Your Higher Self is probably speaking if you notice any of these six characteristics:
1. Calm and centered. Your Higher Self voice is calmer than the ego. It is the “anti-Chicken Little.” It can calmly observe all the craziness of life and stay centered. It can even calmly watch the ego doing “its drama thing” and patiently smile.
2. Seeing with compassion. Higher Self can easily imagine why other people might do weird and crazy stuff. Ego prefers judgment and self-righteous high ground.
3. Long-term focus. The ego looks for short-term gratification. The Higher Self looks at the long term. The ego’s advice might be to deliver a verbal smack down that feels righteously self-justified. The Higher Self knows there is long-term pain for you and the other person in that choice.
4. Win-win outcomes. The Higher Self knows that sustainable good outcomes come from caring for others AND taking care of self. Either/or solutions are rarely good relationship tools. Everyone should see some form of “win.” Creativity and intuition (aspects of our Higher Self) can break through traditional ego-solutions and see a better path.
5. Strong boundaries. I love to say that there is nothing wimpy about being spiritual. The Higher Self can say “no” and mean it. Higher Self sets boundaries calmly and clearly. There are times to be compassionate, wise and immovable.
6. Positive emotional texture. The Higher Self can see beauty and wonder in so many places. If you are feeling peaceful, joyful, grateful, wise and compassionate you are probably in Higher Self. Watch your body. Ego tends to cause fight or flight responses like shallow breathing and clenched muscles. Your muscles and emotions will help you know which voice you are listening to.
Overall, our Higher Self looks to find what is right, what is good in all the people and all the parts of this set of circumstances. It looks for something to be grateful for.
This is part of the high SQ self-awareness process — learning to recognize the difference between Higher Self and ego self. In my own experience I have found that it gets easier over time. I now know that voice without a doubt. I feel it almost as a different texture to the experience of being me. You can learn to detect it too.
Perhaps you will identify it by a quality like peace, or space, or calm. Some people experience their Higher Self as a kind of intuition, or even an actual voice inside their heads, telling them what to do in critical moments. Others see pictures that contain intuitive knowing about a situation.
There is no right or wrong way to experience your Higher Self, but it is important to pay attention until you are sure you can discern it. Then you can learn to listen to it. This level of attainment also shifts our relationship to the ego. We can understand that ego is useful and its primary purpose is to keep us safe. The ego creates the stories it does in order to over-protect against possible threat. Ego is not really concerned with our happiness or our spiritual development. As we become more aligned with the Higher Self we understand that we have the ability to interrupt the ego’s story. Ultimately the Higher Self can be the dominant voice we hear. And with time it is possible to enroll the ego in the larger purpose of our lives.
I have found that with time the positive feelings of letting my Higher Self run the show are so good, and the results are so worth it, that there is a positive feedback loop at work. The more I listen to the Higher Self, the better I feel. I no longer feel tempted to go back to the ego upset and drama.
Author of SQ21, Leadership Coach and Corporate Consultant