Trust Your Inner Compass

Come on Buddy (2)

Always a seeker, my journey has now taken me in the direction of unraveling my self talk. By that I mean the voice in my head that is hell bent on me being a “good girl.” It’s the voice that shames, cajoles and judges everything I do. It’s been with me for as long as I can remember.

I’ve heard it said that when we are born our consciousness is like an unsullied computer. As life goes on program after program is downloaded onto our hard drives. Where do the programs come from? Our parents, the Church and the media, to name a few. All of these externals indoctrinate us with who to be and what to do. Without healthy, supportive parents (which I was not privy to) it’s nearly impossible to trust your inner voice. I have lived much of my life going into my head to reason away what I know to be true deep inside.

“And always let your conscience be your guide.” -Jiminy Cricket

When I was in grade school, I loved the Walt Disney movie, Pinocchio. In a song from it, “Give a Little Whistle,” Jiminy Cricket sang to Pinocchio to always let his conscience be his guide. The tune was catchy and gave grown ups the perfect opportunity to drum into us the importance of listening to our inner selves. The problem with that was our “conscience” had little to do with who we really were. It was located outside of ourselves in the rules and expectations of the adults who were trying to mold us.

Today, I am am learning to live by the dictionary’s definition of conscience, “an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” Contrary to what I was taught my conscience isn’t located in church dogma, family rules or societal standards. My conscience resides in my heart.

When people of my generation were born, we were dangled upside down and slapped on our bottoms to force us to breathe. Today we know that’s unnecessary. Taking our first breath is built into us. We do it automatically. I think the rest of our lives work that way, too. As adults, we don’t need outside forces directing our path. By allowing ourselves to trust our intuition, step by step, we will be shown the way. For children, living like this is second nature. Of course, as they are raised they still need to be guided and protected while paying heed to their individuality.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” -Alan Alda

When I heard that Siena, the little girl in the above art, took her brother, Rhett, by the hand and said, “Come on buddy. Let’s go see the rest of the world” I thought, I want to be like her. Spontaneous. Free. I immediately set plans to illustrate the scene. As I worked on my watercolor, it dawned on me (as so often happens) that my need to paint the image was my way of working out more of my life lessons. As I put the finishing touches on the piece, I realized that I had successfully replaced some of the corrupted applications downloaded in my youth. And what would be the names of the new programs? Trust Yourself, Approach Life with Wonder, and It’s Safe to Explore. And so it is.

The real Siena with her mom Erika and her brother, Rhett (holding his favorite rock.)

The real Siena with her mom Erika and her brother, Rhett (holding his favorite rock.)

*Click here to buy a signed print of the art in this post.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “Trust Your Inner Compass

    • Delphine, I’m 71 and recently ‘discovered’ or rather, was led to Sue and her blog and her beautiful art! I have learned so much from her and I am with you 100% about how long it has taken me to began to recognize AND accept who I really am! It can still be a bit of a chore at times, but I am getting better at it – with the help of my very own Guardian Angel! Until I was 46 my life was lived by external rules, although in my case I, myself, was the greatest influence! My parents, to by no means perfect, were good and loving. The rules came from within me for reasons I won’t go into here. After a complete mental crash, I finally begin learning how my life could be lived in a much easier and far more positive manner. I’m still working on it. I still catch myself listening to my brain, when it is really my heart that is giving me the correct information! Blessings to you on your quest! Your fellow traveler, Carol


  1. Sue, you’ve written another wonderful blog and I’m so glad you are publishing another book! You talked about the birth of a child who arrives on earth with an ‘unsullied computer’. I see birth a bit differently than that, which isn’t to say one is right and one is wrong – just two different views! I was a childbirth educator for nearly 15 years. It was my 2nd job, but as much as I loved what I did during the day, this was my joy! Meeting women and their partners (or not) in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy taught ME much much more than I ever taught them. I was blessed to be asked to many births – each one different and unique. I watched the women create THEIR way of laboring and I learned that I was far too rigid in what I taught. I learned that what I needed to do was offer tools to be used when and how the woman chose to . . . or not. My job was to educate women about what their bodies were doing during labor and birth and teach them to trust themselves and their instincts. I know when a child enters our world, he or she is already privy to a great deal of knowledge – the sound of its mother’s voice and her heartbeat. The child is constantly surrounded by those two things in utero. Many expectant women play certain relaxing music with an head-phone on her expanding womb. They reported back that this very music could almost instantly calm an upset baby. They play games with their child – pushing on a foot or hand and when the babe kicked back they did the same. The child quickly caught on and truly made a game of it. The father is also able to do all this. His voice is definitely recognizable to the newborn as well as the mommy’s! They will turn and twist to find that voice and then ‘lock onto’ it with open eyes. I think our babes are born with a great deal of knowledge and, sadly, if some of what it is exposed to in utero is yelling, crying or any negative behavior, the child learned to pick up on that too and will often show signs of anxiety or fear if that occurs after it’s birth. Thankfully there are people like you and all those who teach about our angels that can help right those things, both for the parents and for the babies! I would just pray that each child who enters our world KNOW that it is welcomed and wanted and loved. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a huge group of confident children because of how they were ‘taught’ in utero and in their early life. Yes, we do need rules, but they have to be sensible ones, one that have a good reason and they need to be taught quietly and with great love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all those adults each child comes into contact with during a child’s formative years could teach and interact with love and acceptance and joy? Thanks for your gift of this blog. Carol


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