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Tune Out To Tune In ‒ Hearing & Heeding Your Inner Voice In A World Full Of Noise

Written by: Andrew Petty, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Your inner voice speaks the truth of who you are and the life you were made to live. But many of us treat it like a suspicious stranger instead of a trustworthy friend. What’s that about? Let’s uncover some of the most common reasons we fail to hear and heed our inner voice, get honest about the surprisingly harmful consequences of ignoring it, and learn how to tune out the noise around you so you can tune in to the reliable guide within you.

What’s Our “Inner Voice?”

The idea of an “inner voice” isn’t new. Some might call your “inner voice” your “heart,” and encourage you to “follow your heart.” Others might say, “be true to yourself.” No matter how it’s expressed, though, the implication is that within us resides a trustworthy source of truth about who we really are and the life we’re made to live.

It’s the voice you ignore when an “expert” in a topic tells you the “right” way to do something ‒ and you do it the expert’s way, knowing that deep down you really think there’s a better way.

It’s the voice nudging you gently and persistently to leave a job to pursue an entrepreneurial path ‒ but you stay in the job because it provides a reliable paycheck.

It’s the voice telling you to forsake the entrepreneurial path because you actually really like being part of a team in an established organization ‒ but you ignore it because you’ve bought into the myth that entrepreneurs are cooler, gutsier, and eventually always make tons of money.

It’s the voice calling you back to your canvas, brushes, and paints ‒ but you ignore it because your parents told you long ago that art is a frivolous and self-indulgent pursuit that doesn’t benefit anyone. So you let your art stuff continue to gather dust in the attic and dive deeper into your sterile corporate law job with a corner office and an amazing salary, while a beautiful part of you dies just a little bit more.

It’s the voice calling you out on a limb ‒ but you ignore it and keep your arms wrapped around the trunk because, well, it feels safer there. And you begin to develop an insidious and deep-seated disdain for yourself because you know you’ve chosen badly.

Or maybe it’s the voice that you finally listened to because its whisper had increased to an unavoidable roar in your heart and mind ‒ and to ignore it any longer would take more resolve and energy than simply doing what it said. And so you tuned out all the other voices competing for attention, tuned in to the trustworthy voice within you, and stepped out on that limb.

Life Out On the Limb

I stepped out on that limb almost seven years ago, and it changed my life profoundly. Tune in to episode 005 of my podcast, How to Become the Boss of Your Fear: Bravery-building to Live With More Guts and Gusto, to hear more of that story.

The decision to hear and heed my inner voice ‒ to tune out the other voices competing for attention and tune in to my own ‒ has enabled me to become more of the man I was made to be and live the life I was made to live. My inner voice didn’t lead me astray. It proved trustworthy, and I’m so grateful for it. That experience, more than any other single experience so far, that experience and the good fruit that has come from it set me on a path of learning to hear and heed my inner voice day in and day out.

Nature and Nurture

By the way, hearing and heeding your inner voice is more challenging for some than for others. Some people ‒ because of their innate personality style and upbringing ‒ do it instinctively and effectively from an early age. Others though ‒ also because of innate personality style and upbringing ‒ find it very difficult to do.

You know which of those two people you are. And if you’re someone who finds it hard to do, then you know deep down the price you’re paying for holding your inner voice at arm’s length.

Why We Fail to Hear and Heed Our Inner Voice

I’m not going to spend any more time or energy making a case for the existence and value of our inner voice. Truth be told, I don’t actually think any of us need to be persuaded of the existence and value of our inner voice. What we need instead is encouragement to actually give it the attention it deserves. What keeps us from doing that?

Here are a few of the big culprits ‒ the other “voices” that compete for our attention:

  • First, our parents. On the one hand, it may seem ridiculous as an adult to think that our parents could still have that much power in our lives. After all, we’re adults now, right? Wellllll...When you consider that for the first 18 or so years of our lives, all of us had one or more parents ‒ or adults who had the rights and responsibilities of a parent in our lives ‒ who profoundly influenced our view of ourselves, life, and the world we live in, then it’s no wonder that their voices from the past can drown out our own inner voice even in adulthood. To be clear, I’m not saying that I think we shouldn’t heed the input and counsel of our parents ‒ even as adults. I highly value my parents’ counsel still ‒even at 48. But I am saying that if your parents’ voices drown out your inner voice, then it’s time to tune out their voices so you can tune in to your own.

  • Next, trusted role models, mentors, and “experts.” This is a tough one, too, because we pick role models and mentors because we respect and admire them and believe that in some way, they have something valuable to offer us. We may know them personally, or they can be authors, public figures, historical figures, podcasters, bloggers, celebrities, and so forth that we don’t know personally but who nevertheless influence us. If we tune in too much to the voices of role models, mentors, and experts, though, our own inner voice can get lost in the mix. We can begin to try to live according to their prescriptions for success instead of the one that our own inner voice has been offering us all along. If the role models, mentors, and experts you trust are drowning out your inner voice, tune them out or dial them back so that your inner voice can be heard clearly over them.

  • What about cultural & social pressures? Pressure to achieve and maintain a certain standard of living. Pressure to have a certain kind of job that carries a certain kind of prestige or authority. Pressure to take vacations that are just a little more exotic than those that others take. Pressure to drive a certain kind of car. You get the picture. If cultural and social pressures ‒ fueled by your own ego and insecurities ‒ are drowning out the truth that your inner voice is patiently and persistently whispering to you, then turn them down and turn your inner voice up.

  • How about the news and social media? These are HUGE threats to the clarity and influence of our own inner voices. In the digital age, news cycles are lightning fast, there’s more information available then we could ever hope to consume, a huge chunk of the information is useless anyway, and social media creates an echo chamber of our own devising ‒ reinforced by algorithms that serve up heaping quantities of whatever we click on most. If we’re not mindful in our consumption of information from these sources, we begin to live frenetic, harried lives scripted by whatever messages and agendas other people are propagating. We simply allow so much of that noise into our lives that our inner voices don’t have a chance of being heard above the fray.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the voices that compete for our attention, but these are some of the big culprits. It’s less about tuning out those voices once and for all than it is about getting the mix of voices balanced better ‒ like an audio engineer does when he’s mixing together instrument and vocal tracks to create a finished song.

Will Ferrell’s Cowbell

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits is the one with Will Ferrell playing the cowbell in a studio recording session. The scene is set in the 70s, and all the musicians are wearing stereotypical 70s garb. Will Ferrell’s hairy gut is sticking out from a tacky velour shirt that’s too short, and he’s about to bust out of his light-blue bell bottoms. He and the producer keep wanting to add more cowbell to the track, and take after take, the amount of cowbell and Will Ferrell’s antics become more and more ridiculous and completely overwhelm the recording session. It’s obvious to the viewer that “more cowbell” is not in fact, what this recording needs. It’s hilarious to watch the other musicians as they react to the absurdity of the whole situation.

Which voices are Will Ferrell’s cowbell in your life right now, drowning out your own inner voice and creating a mix that isn’t true to the music you alone can offer the world?

Whichever voices are drowning out your inner voice, turn them down or tune them out. If my voice via this article is too loud in your head and heart, then turn it down or tune it out.

There’s simply no substitute for the truth of who you are and the life you were made to live that your inner voice whispers to you in a way that no one else can.

Our Inner Voice Won’t Tolerate Being Ignored Forever

Here’s the deal: We may fail to hear and heed our inner voice for a while, or we may even consciously choose to ignore it. But make no mistake, our inner voice will make itself known one way or another. It simply can’t be ignored forever. Long-term neglect of our inner voice ‒ that is, long-term neglect of the truth of our existence and the life we were made to live ‒ leads to anger, depression, blown-up marriages, broken relationships between parents and kids, destructive coping mechanisms like substance abuse, and more. Some of these collateral damages were true in my own life before I began to risk hearing and heeding my inner voice. I see the same patterns playing out in the lives of my clients when they’re resisting their inner voices. I see them break free of these patterns when they begin to hear, heed, and live according to the truth of their inner voice. Then, slowly but surely, who they truly are begins to emerge.

Count the Cost, and Tune In To Your Inner Voice

If it feels risky to listen to your inner voice, then consider the risks of not tuning in to it. And compare those risks to the wildly wonderful benefits of fulfilling more and more of your unique purpose in the world.

Tune out the noise, and tune in to your own inner voice to discover the truth of your existence and the life you were made to live.

Since none of us knows when we’ll draw our last breath in this life, isn’t it time to give your inner voice the attention that it deserves?

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Tune in to my podcast at or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.


Andrew Petty, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Andrew Petty is dying. And so are you. But you're not dead yet! Andrew helps you uncover what you really want in life and go after it with guts, gusto, and abandon. Through 1-1 coaching, The Graveyard Group mastermind, and his podcast, Andrew Petty is Dying, you are equipped with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were uniquely made to live. The courageous, life-affirming Mortality Mindset provides the motivational power needed to break through life’s barriers and fulfill your potential.



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