A Blog Based Interview with Gail Harris

How many times have you made a decision—or a non-decision—based on fear, self-doubt, or the opinions of others, only to find out you’ve made a huge mistake or even lost years of your life taking the wrong path?  Sound familiar?  Well, that’s a large part of what’s Gail Harris’ new book, Your Heart Knows the Answer: How To Trust Yourself and Make the Choices That
Are Right For You (Inner Ocean, 2005) is all about.

And given that a large part of Life On Purpose Institute’s mission is to help people move beyond a life shaped by fear, lack or struggle, I was overjoyed when give the opportunity to ask Gail a few questions.

Here’s how it went:

BRAD – As I read Your Heart Knows the Answer, much of it resonated
with the Life On Purpose Process that we use to help people clarify their life purpose, in which we suggest that a person’s life purpose is more about who they are as a spiritual being and what they came here to experience rather than what a person is here to do. How do you feel people can use listening to their heart to help them clarify their true purpose?

GAIL: The ONLY way a person can clarify his or her life purpose is by tuning in to their heart wisdom or inner knowing. In this wisdom lies not all the “shoulds” and “shouldnts”—or the messages we receive from outside influences about what it means to be “successful,” but the potential to become our best selves and experience the happiest, most fulfilling life. In order to experience ourselves as spiritual beings, we must learn how to get past our thoughts, which tell us what kind of job we should have or person we should marry, for example, and connect with our heart’s wisdom. It guides us to focus on our life journey and what brings us joy, rather than on reaching our destination. This is how we live a truly purposeful life.

BRAD- In Your Heart Knows the Answer, you make an important
distinction between the voice of your heart and the voice of your ego, or what I refer to as the fear based Inherited Purpose. What are some ways you have found to distinguish between these two voices?

GAIL: You can tell the difference between the two voices by the way they sound and what they say. Their characteristics are very different. For example, the voice of the heart is always loving and positive (even when guiding you to make a difference choice about something). It is direct and specific, empowering, grounding, relaxing, exhilarating, and it doesn’t use your own logic against you (for example, if he loved me he would have called).  The voices in the head can be negative, judgmental, critical, argumentative, blaming, depressing, and doubting.

The voice of the heart will guide you to believe in yourself, to take risks and not be afraid of failing. It is like a built-in coach and motivator, that inspires you to learn from all of your experiences. In contrast, the voices in the head will tell you not to believe in yourself, to be afraid, to feel guilty, anxious and vengeful.  It does what it can to tear down your confidence.  It will persuade you to use logic, even when trusting your gut is what is needed in the situation.

BRAD – I find that often when I first awaken in the morning, my experience of life is being mostly shaped by my ego/Inherited Purpose/voice in my head.  What suggestions do you have for me to help me make the shift to having my experience shaped by my heart voice from the moment I first become conscious to the day?

There are many things you can do. Here are a few:

  • Learn how to distinguish the heart voice from the ego/Inherited Purpose voice, as they have very different characteristics.  (See question # 2.) Then, when your ego voice rears its ugly head in the morning, you will have the freedom NOT to listen to it, and can choose to listen your heart’s voice instead.

  • Develop the strength to trust your heart wisdom by practicing acting on its wise advice.  Begin with the small things. For example, when your heart tells you to walk the dog now, but you are feeling lazy, do it anyway.  Then, work up to the more difficult situations, such as making healthier food choices.

  • Begin your day with a Your Heart Knows Affirmation.  This simple, but powerful tool works.  Here’s how you do it: Close your eyes and place your hand on your heart. Take in a few gentle breaths, and when you are ready, say silently, “My heart knows ____________.”   Then, compete the sentence with whatever arises for you.  You will be amazed at what your heart will reveal to you, as soon as you arise.

  • Begin each day with a simple ceremony, as ceremony connects you with your heart and what is important to you.  For example, sit silently for two minutes before eating your breakfast. Or, begin each day by taking a short walk. Ask your heart what your need to do in order to begin the day right.  It will tell you.

  • Develop a support system of people who honor your choice to live according to your heart’s messages, and maintain an on-going dialogue with these people.

BRAD – Your book, Your Heart Knows the Answer, is clearly written for women. However, most of us guys have hearts too, right? <G>  What can we do to access this important source of wisdom and guidance? Are there really any significant differences in how men can go about listening to their inner

GAIL: The book is written for women, in that it focuses on some of the outside messages women receive that disconnect them from their inner knowing—such as those that foster poor body image and low self worth. (Men receive different messages, such as those that tell them to ignore and not express their feelings).  However, the principles for learning how to recognize and trust our hearts are the same for both men and women. Men can shift their focus from their heads to their hearts by learning to pay particular attention to bodily cues, (one of the key ways to tune in to heart wisdom). They can embrace the fact that just because something is logical doesn’t mean it is always correct. They can practice recognizing and talking about their feelings. They can seek out other men who believe similarly and talk about their views and feelings.  They can learn to distinguish the characteristics of the head and the heart and then practice listening to their heart’s messages.

Thanks, Gail, for all the insights.  Now, all you purposeful people out there know that insights along aren’t enough for true transformation.  Remember, the coaching formula:

I   +  A  =  Real Growth and Development

So, pick an insight you gleaned from Gail’s ‘coaching.’  What action are you ready to take to begin to integrate the insight into your life, and thus further grown and develop.  Here’s one I challenge you to.

Post your insight and action here, along with any questions, comments or anything you’d care to contribute to others.