Day 181 Listening to your inner voice

I don’t know if I am interpreting “Inner Voice” the wrong way but I don’t happen to agree that you should always listen to it like people often advise. I think of “Inner Voice” as that niggling little feeling inside that makes you feel cautious when faced with certain situations that you aren’t to sure about.

In my experience that little voice often tells lies and undermines your common sense. I have suffered from depression on and off during my life and I can tell you for sure that that little voice hasn’t helped during those periods. It has come right to the forefront causing me a whole lot of unnecessary grief that I definitely shouldn’t have listened to.

Would you tell a person suffering from  schizophrenia to listen to their “Inner Voice”? I think not. Even if I have got the “Inner Voice” confused with something else, who is to say which feeling is which. I am also sure that most people inflicted with a hoarding disorder are listening to what they think is their inner voice telling them to keep useless things because they many be important some day.

My point here is that you should stop and question that thing that you think is your inner voice at least in the following situations…

  • When it tells you to buy that cute sweater because it will make you feel better when you are having a bad day. In a week or two that sweater will just be languishing in the back of your closet with ten of it’s other “bad day’ friends making you feel guilty for wasting your money on it.
  • When it tells you that you should keep all your fat/skinny clothes because you may need them one day. These clothes make you feel bad if they are skinny clothes and undermine your new healthy way of life if they are your fat clothes.
  • When it tells you to dwell on your mistakes from the past instead of just learning from them and moving on.
  • When it tells you to worry about things that haven’t happened yet and probably won’t. (I have spent a good bit of my life worrying about things that never happened.)
  • When it tells you you should keep clutter just in case you may need it one day. Oh how busy that little voice can be worrying people into hoarding all sorts of useful stuff that would be better of in the hands of people how actually will use them NOW!
  • When it tells you you have to hang on to great-granddads old mahogany dining table because so and so (usually someone who didn’t want it cluttering up their house) will be so disappointed it you don’t. If it is a family heirloom there is probably some other person in the family happy to take it off your hands. Even if it is valuable that value is no use to you if you aren’t “allowed” to sell it.

Then again maybe I have just haven’t dug deep enough and have all this time been listening to some bad shallow voice. Kind of like in cartoons where there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Still when you can’t see which costume they are wearing it is hard to tell the difference.

I am sure you can come up with more of your own examples of when that inner voice has mislead you into doing things that weren’t all that advisable in hindsight. Please leave me a comment with some of your own personal examples I would love to hear from you.


A little voice said “keep these computer parts they will come in useful one day”. In actual fact all they became was clutter for a long time and now they have been donated to charity and hopefully someone else is finding them useful again now.
Computer Parts

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Another thought-provoking post!

    I think the “inner voice” reflects habitual thinking, which isn’t inherently good or bad. If we have bad mental habits, whether they’re related to clutter or worrying or negativity, it’s good to fight them, or at least reconsider them without following blindly.

    An extreme case is obsessive compulsive disorder. In someone with OCD, the inner voice dictates their behavior and takes over their life.

    The only time it’s probably good to listen to that inner voice is when we’re in a legitimately dangerous situation. Which is (hopefully) pretty rare.

    • Hi Amy,
      you have nailed the inner voice I am talking about and you are correct that it shouldn’t be followed blindly. It will usually lead you to all the wrong places. And cases like OCD are like you say the extreme end of this problem. Meditation really helps one to re-centre when stuck in that mind set.

  2. When my inner voice tells me that the situation I’m in is dangerous, it usually is. On the other hand, my inner voice needs to just shut up when it’s pushing me to do something stupid like keep a 12 year old microwave on the floor of my guest room because I was worried my current wall model would die soon. Last week the microwave went to Goodwill.

    • Hi Willow
      That’s the inner voice I am talking about. The higher the ticket price on an item the harder it can be to rationalise parting with it. The old keep it just in case voice likes to chime in on this one. I hope your current microwave lasts for a long time yet and proves that voice wrong.

  3. My family has a strong strain of depression/anxiety on my mother’s side, and I’ve been fortunate to escape it so far. It’s horrible to see loved ones suffer, and my sympathies are with you Colleen.

    Last week I had some bad news regarding my health (it’s all worked out now though!) and my first instinct was to go shopping with my sister and buy a new top to ‘cheer myself up’. We ended up wandering around the shopping centre and bought nothing. All I really *needed* was to spend time with my sister, enjoying her company and having a nice morning tea, which we did.

    • Loretta,
      thank you for your kind words. Luckily I can recognise depression in the early stages and I do something about it so I make a speedy recovery. I am sad for people who can’t or won’t do anything to treat it before they get in to deep.
      I am glad you didn’t buy that new top and that you had a lovely day with your sister instead.

  4. Very interesting thoughts. I’ve always considered my conscience to be my inner voice – you know, the one that tells you NOT to do “bad” stuff. I hadn’t thought about an inner voice that might be contributing TO doing the bad stuff. Good post!

    • Hi Jo,
      I suppose I am not refering to my inner voice as my conscience. I do not usually get confused about what is the right thing to do. It is that little voice that tells you to worry about things that haven’t happed yet. The voice that causes you to make mountain out of mole hills. The voice that make you feel guilty for relaxing on your day off when there is so much to do. That is the kind of voice that makes you want to go out and buy a new sweater or eat a whole block of chocolate or some other temporary sedative to make you feel good.
      I was a bit worried when I wrote that post because sometimes when you try to convey one thing the message comes out quite differently than you wish.

  5. I know the kind of voice you’re talking about, Colleen, and it’s taken me a long time to learn the difference between it and my intuition. The intuition is usually right, and usually doesn’t involve making purchases. But the other one, the one you’re talking about, is the one that makes rationalizations based on fear. It’s a helluva little voice to squelch sometimes. I’m in the same spot as Willow, with the microwave from my now-closed business. It’s sitting on the basement floor at the moment while I work up the gumption to shout down the rationalizing voice and send it on its way!

    • Hi Meg,
      I see you understand where I am coming from with this. Having the wisdom to know the difference does, like you say, take a while to learn. Good luck with the microwave decision.

  6. I’ve heard people refer to ‘that voice’ as ‘self talk’ which is usually negative, damaging, and accusative.

  7. My inner voice is struggling with that last one. When my aunt (and uncle) passed away their stuff was willed to her six nieces. We each received furniture, china, glassware, etc. Dh and I are considering moving/downsizing and I’m struggling with the concept – should I offer some of the items (esp furniture) that I no longer want to my cousins, or try to sell it and earn some money. This is part of my inheritance, so technically I could sell it – but if they have a use for it would that be a “better” option? Decisions, decisions…

    • Hi Carmen,
      it is a tricky situation for you that is for sure. It is probably best to sound your cousins out and see how they feel. Maybe if you feel you are entitled to the value of the items you could get an evaluation on them and offer to sell them to your cousins. They may consider this reasonable if they feel attached to the items in a sentimental way. It could be a win win situation.
      Sometimes sending them a letter or email explaining how you feel then makin the offer is better than going face to face. This way you get to explain fully without interuption where you are coming from and they get to consider that before forming an opinion or making a decision.

  8. I definitely “got” what you were saying, as you did a good job of writing the post!

    • Thanks Jo,
      and thanks for your comments I really injoy the feed back, keep it coming. That goes for anyone else reading this as well.

  9. Susan Jeffers in her book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ describes this voice as our ‘Chatterbox.’ It does a lot of chattering! She even suggests giving it a name. I have used that book to give me courage to make changes to my life in the past but I have just realised that it would be helpful when decluttering too. Fear often comes in to cluttering up our homes and hanging on to things. I’d recommend that book.