Navigation Tools for Life, Part II, Accessing Your Internal Guidance System

I’ll admit it: I take an Autie Mame approach to life, experiencing it as a wonderful banquet. And I am sometimes perplexed by those who turn their backs on that banquet. I suspect that one reason some people shun the banquet is that all those choices can be overwhelming. The banquet may be full of savory food, but making good choices can be daunting as you navigate your way through it.

In my last post, I suggested a very simple place to start: centering and grounding. But suppose you’re at that banquet. You have remembered to center and ground. Now what?

There are many tools to access your internal guidance system. Again, I’m in favor of simplicity. If you are going to make sense out of your internal guidance, then being able to discern an internal “yes” from an internal “no” is crucial. The brief suggestions on how to do that I am giving here are actually a slightly modified version of what can be found in my book, Living the Dream–A Guidebook for Job Seekers and Career Explorers.

  • First, realize that the internal “yes” and “no” are not accessed through your rational/logical thinking process, but are more likely to be found in your sensory system. So get out of your head and into your body.
  • Think of a time when you made a decision to do something, were confident that it was the right decision, and had an outstanding result. To the extent possible, time travel back to that place and fully embody it with all of your senses. (If you insist that it has never happened before, time travel to a point in the future when it is happening.)
  • Now, identify where in your sensory system you know the decision to go forward is a good one. Do you feel a sensation in some part of your body? Do you see an inner image? Hear something? Does your sense of smell or taste kick in? Note that.
  • Using the same time traveling technique, return to a time when you made a decision not to do something, were confident that it was the right decision, and have been forever grateful for your choice. Again, fully embody it and note which part or parts of your sensory system are providing you with the understanding that this is not something you should do. Make a note of it.
  • Now, using the information on what an internal “yes” and an internal “no” are for you, test it out. You might want to test it against something you know to be true and for which you have a strong emotional pull (“I love my cat, Stubbie,” for instance), then against something you know to be false and around which you have some emotional tuggin (“I have not the slightest concern about my 401k,” might be a good one right now).  Alternatively, just try it out on ordinary things in your day like which route to work is easiest on a particular day.
  • Pay attention to the spontaneous appearance of that “yes” and “no” in your life. The more to pay attention to your internal guidance system, the more it will guide you.

Are there other ways to access the internal guidance system? Of course! The one I have just described is a simple way to begin to hone your skills. Am I suggesting that no thought can be trusted, that you must only rely on your sensory system? Absolutely not! But I have discovered, over time, that we humans can bamboozle ourselves easily with our heads. It is vital to have a sensory system check. The rational/logical thoght process is great, but it does not serve us well when we’re looking for higher guidance.

But here is something else to try. Begin to pay attention to the fleeting thoghts that enter your mind, seemingly out of nowhere, that have a distinclty different tone to them than the usual internal chatter (which is more ego-involved). You might have the sudden thought to call your best friend, take a hike instead of go to the museum show you’d planned on, check out something in particular on the Internet–whatever. Listening to and following up on those fleeting thoughts can be very instructive. (Just be sure to use appropriate discretion.)

You have an internal GPS system. You might as well take advantage of it. It can make navigating life’s banquet more delicious, not to mention easier on the stomach.

I would love to hear how you experience your internal guidance system.



copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall

27 Responses to “Navigation Tools for Life, Part II, Accessing Your Internal Guidance System”

  1. mandy07 Says:

    This is such a helpful technique. I was first introduced to it by the therapist I went to see to help me decide whether I should stay in my marriage or separate. As we talked about various issues and what I thought I should do, she’d ask me to sit still for a few moments and sense how my body felt. Then I instinctively knew what decisions were right for me and which ones I needed to work on. I still use this technique – any time I feel my shoulders tensing up, I know there is a soomething I need to attend to. Then I spend a few quiet minutes visualizing the alternatives and I get a very answer as to correct choice. I do firmly believe that your internal guidance system won’t let you down, if you listen to what it is telling you.


  2. Verna Wilder Says:

    Yes! This body technique is great because it’s always there for us – all we have to do is listen. Do you know about the Boulder Center for Conscious Living? They offer a lot of workshops and other things, all based on the teachings of Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks of the Hendricks Institute in California (, so much of it body-based.

    Thanks for posting this technique, Melanie. Great stuff!


  3. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    It is great to hear that others have been exposed to techniques like the one I posted. One thing I have learned in working with people over many years is that while some people believe they have a sense of an internal “yes” or a “no,” many cannot identify where it resides, let alone describe it. You, however, can. Your shoulders tense up for a “no.”

    Are you willing to share what your internal “yes” is?

    Thanks for the comment.


  4. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    I am aware of the work of the Hendricks, but have no experience with the Boulder Center for Conscious Living. I’ll check out their web site. Good to hear that they have body-based techniques.

    Thanks for your comment!



  5. mandy07 Says:

    Happy to share my internal “yes” although it might sound strange and unbelievable! When a decision is right for me I get this feeling of inner alignment down my spine, I feel taller, my neck feels longer, my right and left sides feel balanced and I feel energy flowing through my arms and legs. It is quite a different and distinct feeling from what I experience when I think about the situation that is stressing me out.


    • Melanie Mulhall Says:


      This is a wonderful example of a sensory based (in this case, kinesthetic) “yes” experience. I think it is helpful to the readers to have examples of what a “yes” and a “no” are for others. Your “yes” is very rich and detailed. There is an energetic quality to it for you.

      When I take people through the process of determining an internal “yes” and “no,” I have found it not uncommon for it to be kinesthetic (a feeling, as opposed to an image or sound) and for a “yes” to be experienced as a free flow of energy. (That it is balanced for you is an added piece that is very helpful.) Some people who experience their “yes” as a free flow of energy also experience their “no” as a lack of energy flow, a kind of dead energy zone. I, myself, often experience a “no” in that way.

      Thanks for your willingness to share details. This should be most helpful to the readers of this blog.


  6. Rosemary Carstens Says:

    My way of connecting with what’s right for me when I am troubled by a choice or a decision is a little different. I sleep on it. The answers to what I should do often comes to me in my dreams and that has been true throughout my life. Somehow I guess my unconscious is working on the problem while I sleep–when I wake, the answer is often there. One very graphic example took place some years ago when I was in a relationship with a man who was not very loving. We had planned a weekend together and, not unusually, he called to make up some excuse about why he was cancelling. As was my usual pattern, I didn’t say what I thought or felt, but gave an answer that wouldn’t rock the boat, that would sound supportive of what he was saying and like I was fine with my disappointment. I went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. In the middle of the night a deep, deep voice came into my dreams about his excuses and BOOMED “Bullshit!” It woke me up and I sat straight up in bed and knew immediately that that was my gut response to the excuses he had given. That was the beginning of knowing I had to take my life in another direction. When I am troubled, I always sleep on it, let the answers work themselves out until it “feels” right —


  7. Lara Says:

    Melanie, I started doing this very thing many years ago, and have found that I haven’t made a “wrong” turn in a very long time. In fact, doors seem to open for me much more easily than they did when I was younger. I appreciate the thoughtful wording of your blog, it makes the content so easy to follow.


  8. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    What a great example of how a person’s internal guidance system can–and does–get through in wonderful ways! Sleeping on it is good advice in any event. When sleeping on it results in great guidance, it is a very elegant thing.

    Like you, I often ask for problems to be resolved or questions to be answered while I sleep. Even when I do not ask consciously, I often find the resolutions to problems as I drift up from a dream during the night or drift up to a waking state at the end of the night. I have cultivated that (which is another blog post for another time). I get guidance through dreams, too.

    In fact, last night I dreamed of two friends. They don’t know each other. I haven’t spoken to or emailed either lately. One of them was in a deep (like six foot) ditch or ravine, digging, at one point in the dream. The other was leaving the company she was with and part owner of. Now, that dream (which I will not describe in detail) could be about lots of things, but when I awoke, I knew I had been given a bit of information about those two people (as opposed to information about myself, as is usually the case in dreams). After not hearing from him for months, today I got a call from the one in the ditch. The dream was a fair representation of his life at the moment.

    The tool I gave in this blog can be used consciously, at any time. So if you don’t have time to sleep on it, you might want to give the “internal yes/no” technique a try.

    Thanks for the great comment!


  9. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    It’s good to hear that this sort of technique has worked well for someone over time. I can offer a technique, but it is the technique in action for someone that gives credence to it.

    And thanks for the kind words about the blog.



  10. Andrea Meyer Says:

    Thank you for this advice, Melanie. I’ve notice that I get bogged down in decisions when I over-think them. Your “internal yes/no” technique sounds like exactly what I need!


  11. Priscilla (BMW) Says:

    Melanie, this is invaluable advice. I learned it the hard way–through chronic illness in my early thirties. If people learn to access their own internal yes/no, they can be spared the four years of illness I experienced. While sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, I learned that my body had a great deal to say about daily decisions. A yes felt like expanding, going outward happily; a no felt like shrinking away from and drooping with tiredness. Once I started following the internal signals, like you, I found my life getting easier–a LOT easier. I can’t tell you how much happier my life is now than it was then! Thanks for putting this out there to help people.


  12. Lynda Hilburn Says:

    Wonderful post, Melanie! I’m an advocate of using my intuition and my “gut” to inform my decisions. Listening to my solar plexus usually leads me in a good direction.


  13. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    I am a whole-brain person. I don’t deny the power and utility of the rational/logical thought process. But many of us are in our heads a great deal. (Yes, I’m one of them.) We risk over-thinking. The internal “yes/no” process can be a huge help. I hope you’ll try it . . . and report your results, whatever they are.



  14. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    The Universe has a way of using the sledgehammer if we ignore the messages we might otherwise be receiving through the intuitive part of the system. The body is a common target for that sledgehammer. Thanks for sharing that very important example.

    Expansion and contraction are not only the breath of Spirit, they are often the way in which our intuitive selves speak to us. Your “yes” and “no” are wonderful gifts to you and wonderful examples for this blog’s readers.

    And life isurely is easier when we activate that internal navigation system, isn’t it!



  15. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    Sounds like your solar plexus is the seat for both a “yes” and a “no.” Considering that the chakra in that area relates to power and will, it’s a good place for those messages to be received.

    Thanks for joining in on the discussion. I look forward to hearing more from you!



  16. Kathy Kaiser Says:

    This is wonderful advice. For me, it’s all about following my intuition, which is often at odds with my rational mind. Whenever I’ve listened to my rational side over my intuitive, things have gone wrong.
    I agree with you about the fleeting thoughts, which seem to arise from almost nothing, like a gap in between our scattered thoughts.


  17. sciencegeekgirl Says:

    A year or so ago I took a meditation and awareness class, and I find that when I do take the time to center myself, even for just 20 minutes, and be aware in the moment, that decisions do flow much easier. I think it’s a way of clearing the junk out of our brain and giving space for the internal navigation system you’re talking about. I think my life would be much clearer if I allowed more time for this in general!


  18. Mike Says:

    Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

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  19. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    There is no question that we need both sides of our brains to get the job done. Like you, though, if the rational/logical and the intuitive are at odds, I give a lot of weight to the intuitive. I’ve tested it out enough times to trust it.

    Referring to fleeting thoughts as those that arrive iout of nothing, in the gap between scattered thoughts is a perfect way to say it. You’re dead on and it is a useful way to help folks understand what we are talking about.

    Thanks for your great comments!



  20. Melanie Mulhall Says:

    Science Geek Girl,

    Thanks for the personal account of how centering is helpful. (Sounds to me like you are both centering and grounding.) As for meditation, that is an important part of my own routine. It helps keep me sane–not to mention providing clarity, concentration, and equanimity.

    And thanks for the great lead in to my next blog post with your comment on clearing the junk and making space. I’m going to have a bit more to say on that, so I hope you will return to take a look.



  21. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    I hope you’ll pass by again!



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