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Center for Enlightened Leadership

Our Higher Self

  Dr. Stephen L. Sokolow
  Dr. Stephen L. Sokolow
Executive Director and Founding Partner

What makes you, you? What makes me, me? You might reply that you are the product of your DNA tempered by your environment and life’s experience. I believe that there’s a lot of truth in that perspective, but it’s not the whole truth. That explanation may cover the physical perspective, but what about the intangible aspects of you? The part of you that feels, knows, judges, strives; the part of you that is more than blood and bones; the part of you that is spirit. Countless writers through the ages have concluded that we are made up of mind, body, and spirit. Spirit is where our higher self resides.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You are not being true to yourself”? Or that someone is not being true to who they really are? What does that mean? My colleague Bea Mah Holland talks about wanting to become the best possible version of herself. Like a computer’s operating system, Bea version 3.6 wants to become version 3.7 and then 3.8 and so forth. Where does that operating system reside? Where is the standard for our continual upgrades? I believe that we not only have unique physical DNA that serves as the blueprint for our physical being but also that we have unique spiritual DNA that serves as the blueprint for our spiritual being. Just as our physical being has an anatomy, so too does our spirit. Caroline Myss has written a wonderful book describing that anatomy: Anatomy of the Spirit. Different traditions have varying perspectives on the seat of the higher self, but a strong consensus exists that the higher self informs all aspects of our spiritual anatomy.

Are you open to the idea that you have a higher self? Your higher self—sometimes called your soul, true self, or divine spark—is available to you for guidance. The higher self is a fount of wisdom available to each of us, once we learn how to access it. Through our higher self we receive guidance from the Universe, either internally or externally or both. The higher self is the divine aspect of who we are. It is our connection to the Divine, which means that every one of us has access to divine wisdom.

There are many ways of seeking divine guidance. One is by simply asking for it from your higher self. Just as there are many ways of seeking divine guidance, the guidance you receive may take many forms. Sometimes you may get a strong feeling that something is right or not right for you. Sometimes you may receive flashes of intuition, or messages in a dream state, or in a meditative state, or when practicing a religious ritual. And sometimes you may receive guidance through other people or synchronistic events. It’s not always easy to know when you’re receiving the guidance you seek. It may come at surprising times and in surprising ways: in a book or article that you’re reading or in a movie you’re watching, or from a friend or even a stranger. Once you ask for guidance, you need to be alert to what comes to you, and you need to trust that you will receive it.

The hardest part is recognizing the guidance; sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes you may think you’re receiving conflicting guidance from different sources. I am not an advocate of blind trust. To the extent possible, you should verify and reality-test what you believe is the divine guidance you are receiving. Take it for a test drive, check it out, see if it feels right, and see if it’s working. If it’s not working, then you may be misreading the advice or misapplying it or assuming that something is coming from a divine source when it is not.

Every one of us has an inner guidance system, but some people are more attuned to their inner voice than others. Your inner guidance system is what helps you decide which battles to fight, and whether a particular battle will be worth the costs. Accessing your inner guidance system also increases your chances of doing what’s right, especially when you are in uncharted territory. But you have to listen to it, and carefully.

What are some ways of accessing your guidance system? One of Paul Houston’s methods involves an exercise in which he talks to his higher self. For him, it’s like talking to a senior partner or a silent friend who carries part of the load. Things seem to be clearer or to align themselves better, he has found, when he uses that method.

You may find yourself struggling with a tough decision, trying to figure out what’s right or what’s the wisest course of action in a given situation, but how often do you actually think of asking for guidance? Then the question inevitably arises: “Who are you asking?” Well, who would you ask? Options abound. You can ask God, you can ask the Universe, you can ask your higher self, you can ask an angel or a saint, you can ask an enlightened being, and on and on—either in the quiet of your own mind or aloud, depending on your comfort level and surroundings.

First, it helps to formulate your question or intention, and then you can consciously ask for assistance and guidance. The next step is to open yourself up and just put your question out there into the Universe, and allow the Universe to respond. The answer may come to you in a moment of insight, in your dreams, through your intuition, through your feelings, sometimes in your heart or gut, or the information may begin to flow from events or other people or through synchronicity. Regardless of the approach you choose, begin the process by asking.

When I was growing up there was a television show called “Father Knows Best.”  We each have a personal broadcast that could be called “Our Higher Self Knows Best.” It’s like a personal GPS system, always available to show us the route that is in our best interest. The more we tune into it and adhere to the direction we are being shown, the happier and more fulfilled we will be.

One final thought: Before writing this article I asked my higher self for guidance as to what I might say about it.

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