When people talk about an inner voice in the context of spirituality, they are normally referring to an inner intuitive sense of direction in their life.
This sense of there being an inner world, and it somehow helping to direct our lives is for most people a hugely attractive idea, and often becomes the centre of their reality.
In the same way that the idea of an external control freakery God puts numerous people off the whole idea of God and/or any religion, the idea of an inner sense of the spirit can attract people in large numbers.
In many ways, people in 12-step recovery often mirror people not in recovery, but in a much more intense and often urgent sense.
This is probably true in the whole area of spirituality, and the idea of listening to an intuitive sense of self.
Healing the Pain
When someone gets sober, it is probably fair to say that most of their life, both internally and externally, is somewhat of a blur. This is true whether or not they get sober in a rehab, or on their own through AA meetings.
Once sober, it will become apparent at some point that the real issue they have to deal with is what is going on inside their head.
The emotional turmoil that underlies most alcoholics’ drinking does not go away when someone gets sober, on the contrary for most people it begins to get more intense.
The search or journey to reconcile this emotional turmoil is in reality the purpose of going through the 12-step program, as a way of trying to bring some sort of internal stability to their life.
This necessity to reconcile their emotional life at some point leads to a degree of stability and internal peace that is normally the first time an alcoholic is likely to have experienced it.
This sense of peace and stability is in some ways both a precursor and an experience of listening to the inner voice, even if the person is not at all aware of it.
It is the expression of turning inwards, in a healthy sense and letting the world of the spirit work in its unique fashion.
Looking for Meaning
Once there is a degree of emotional stability internally, people’s lives can take very different directions. There are likely to be a significant number whose lives will have been touched by the reality of this sense of the spirit.
This can of course mean different things to different people, but in general, people will have some sort of sense of their inner world moving them in a different direction from where they were going before.
This sense of there being an inner world and a felt sense of it guides them to come to feel a very natural and healthy place to want to be.
It is rather like a sense of feeling truly connected to their life, in the context of its real meaning. It is not necessarily about understanding or even becoming aware of the nature of God.
It is really about feeling connected to the inner reality of one’s life, which in a more traditional sense used to be referred to as balancing the light and dark of the soul, of the spirit.
The inner world is not necessarily a land of milk and honey. It is more of a journey, a process, a sense of connecting to our real sense of authenticity, and a sense of where the spirit works with us.
Authenticity, not Sainthood
Whilst there is nothing wrong at all with sainthood, there is sometimes a belief that people who connect to their inner world, who do get a sense of God in their life, necessarily become better people, become good people, and do good works.
There is some truth in this, but there is something more important, the value of connecting to one’s inner life, the value of authenticity.
The phrase to thine own self be true has always resonated with people, even if it has become a bit of a cliche. Its truth however remains a constant.
The importance and value of having the freedom to be authentic cannot be overstated.
This is true in life generally, and especially true in 12-step recovery. The value of authenticity more than anything else is inner freedom and a real awareness of one’s truth.
The idea of an inner voice is an expression of a calling for people to turn inwards rather than outwards in their search for meaning.
The search for meaning is really about an inner journey, and importantly the freedom to pursue the journey however the individual feels the need to process it.
Looking outside of yourself invariably takes you away from the real you, and will take you in the wrong direction.
An inner voice is for most people a comforting notion. It is an invitation for most to begin the process of coming home to their true world, the world of the spirit.