Here we are on planet earth, going about our lives, constantly making decisions---our minds working overtime, with most of us giving no thought to which master we've put in charge from moment to moment. The mind has two potential masters: ego or Spirit. The ego is that part of us that is fear-based and looks at life through the lense of doubt, judgment, and belief in a negative reality. Spirit, on the other hand is based in love and sees life through the lense of cooperation, harmony, and forgiveness.

It's important to remember that of the two masters, ego and Spirit, we decide which one rules our mind and for how long. We have the power to send the ego on vacation and put Spirit in charge, but to do that takes awareness. First, you must stay conscious that both Spirit and ego are sharing space in your mind. Second, you must stay awake, pay attention, and recognize when ego has run amuck and is making choices that do not serve you.

How do you distinguish between the voice of the ego and the voice of Spirit? It's the difference between the voice of fear and the voice of love. Your compass in the world will always be your feelings. First comes thought, then come feelings. Feelings will always let you know whether the thought was ego/personality self generated or Spirit/Higher Self generated.

To deny the barometer of your feelings is to get lost. The joy is that we never have to be lost because we're never without our natural guidance system. We're never without our feelings. We can always check-in and ask ourselves, how am I feeling about this?

If you feel good your compass is telling you you are in harmony with your Source energy, If you're feeling upset or uncomfortable, it's telling you you're out of harmony with your Source energy and it's time for a course correction. Once you figure out how you feel, and if you decide you want to feel better, you can make another choice. But you won't make another choice until you can experience where you are right now.

Learning to feel your feelings is not always easy. Many of us have been taught that feelings are bad or need to be controlled or overcome. We have been discouraged from feeling, taught to suppress our emotions. This is particularly true for men who were taught from childhood that big boys don't cry. Our culture teaches that being sensitive to feelings is a sign of weakness. Many women have been taught to hide their feelings as a way to keep the peace and avoid conflict.

People often have difficulty feeling their feelings because they confuse feelings with thoughts. It surprises them to learn that feelings register in the trunk of the body and they can be found somewhere between the neck and the thighs. Thoughts, on the other hand, only happen in the head. When you're thinking you're probably not feeling.

Feelings, like any other alarm system, can come unbidden and unexpectedly. They simply arise within. Once we cultivate our willingness to notice them, we become better at using nature's guidance system.

Feelings can also provide a signal that you need to take action. When you're in a circumstance---say walking to your car after dark and you feel a tightening in your belly, it can be a signal to become alert to your surroundings. If you're at a party and you feel a tightness in your chest, it may be a signal that the conversation is painful for you and you may need to talk to someone else.

Learning to focus on the inner feeling is a major step to becoming Self-Centered. At any given moment when you know how you feel, you'll know what you need to do to live your life from the center of your Self, honoring your connection to the Divine.

Let us share the story of Sabrina. She couldn't tell her feelings from her thoughts. Sabrina had an adult daughter who was addicted to drugs. Denny asked, "How does that make you feel?" She began to tell a story about the difficulty she experienced with her daughter's acting-out behavior. Denny asked her again, "But how does that make you feel?" Sabrina persistently continued with her story.

Feelings are very simple. They have no story attached to them. When you're caught in the story, you're thinking; not feeling. Denny then directed Sabrina to look within her body to see if anything of an energetic nature was registering. Did she feel a tightness, a ping, an uneasiness, an inner physical sensation when she thought of her daughter's drug use? Sabrina found the feeling in her chest and the tears began.

Here are some examples of random feelings you might have in the course of a day: happy, sad, jealous, afraid, guilty, depressed, anxious, angry, peaceful, excited, emotionally exhausted.

Caution: feelings should not be confused with judgments. Saying we feel "good" or "bad" is a judgment about a feeling. Therefore, that too is a thought. When you find yourself judging, go one step deeper. What is the feeling that you're judging? Feelings are an inner state. Judgments are thoughts that describe those inner states.

No one else can make us feel happy, sad, guilty, depressed, ashamed, or joyful. All feelings are self generated. If this were not true life would be very easy. When your partner is sad or unhappy all you would have to do to shift that reality would be to pour feelings of joy and contentment into them. This is not possible.

When was the last time someone made you happy, sad, or depressed? If you think they did look again. The other can trigger those feelings, but once your button has been pushed you manufacture the feelings from within.

Guilt, for example, is very tricky. It never feels self-generated. We even use the expression "he layed a guilt trip on me," as though the feeling came from someone else's power. The truth is we decide when to feel guilty, how bad to feel, and when to stop feeling this guilt. We are in charge of our feelings. When it comes to guilt, we become our own judge, jury, and executioner.

Guilt is a marvelous defense mechanism. It is a substitute feeling that we can control. We lay it over places where we feel ashamed of ourselves and then we can experience guilt instead of shame. It also keeps us from feeling how badly we've hurt another person. It protects us from our own conscience. Carrying the cross of guilt allows us to feel separate from those we've harmed and we never have to open our hearts to identify with the wound we've caused.

Whenever you're feeling guilty it's important to ask yourself what feeling am I avoiding? What is it I don't want to look at or experience? Guilt keeps us from opening our hearts and allowing self-forgiveness and compassion to pour forth. It's also important to remember that feeling guilty blinds us to the reality of the situation. We become stuck in ourselves and we can't see the bigger picture.

Notice, guilt is such a tricky emotion that the preceding paragraph may make no sense to you. We recommend that you read it several times, letting the meaning wash over you. You may even want to go back and read it again, at another time, once the ego has lightened its grip on your thinking.

(Cultivating Your Inner Guidance System is from the book "Art of Relationship: The New Perspective." Other books by Ron and Denny Reynolds, published by Trafford Publishing include "The New Perspective: Ten Tools for Self-Transformmation," and "We Are Here: The Voice of The New Perspective." VISIT THEIR WEB SITE AT:

Author's Bio: 

Ron and Denny Reynolds apply to relationships the Spiritual principles outlined in their first book The New Perspective: Ten Tools for Self-Transformation. They've discovered that conscious awareness brings an enhanced sense of love and harmony to every partnership. In addition to using these principles in their own relationship, Ron and Denny have assisted the growth of other couples in countless workshops and retreats. Denny has been a Marriage and Family Therapist for more than twenty years, practicing in Lafayette, California. Ron is a retired radio and television broadcaster and now devotes time to Spiritual teaching and writing. They have two grown sons and a happy life embracing more than forty-seven years together.