Essential Tips on How to Distinguish Between the Voices in Your Head

Posted On January 6, 2023

“I’m stuck in my head and can’t get out!” I complained to Don, my spiritual mentor. “There’s a bunch of voices in my mind that keep yakking at me like a bunch of howling monkeys. It’s overwhelming at times.”

“Which voice are you listening to?” Don asked.

“What do you mean?”

Don explained there are three voices we often hear in our minds:

Our intellectual voice
The voice of the unholy one
God’s voice—the voice of love and guidance.


Our intellectual voice


Our own voice is the intellectual voice of reason through which we sift and sort the information we receive from the outer world. It’s the on-board computer we use to process life. It’s a healthy part of our mind-body-spirit connection.

But our intellectual voice can get caught up in our ego—which, Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love says, is the fearful thoughts that trap us in survival-mode.

Our ego can confuse us. It drowns out clarity.

It becomes a trickster causing us to go down the wrong path. When we listen only to our ego, we fail to hear the heart’s voice of deeper wisdom and truth.



The unholy one’s voice



The voice of the unholy one is also a trickster. It condemns us, telling us we’re bad, messed up.

It’s like a mean ol’ dog owner shoving our noses into the muck we’ve excreted in our lives.

The unholy one leads us to the shores of self-doubt and criticism. Like the voice that Adam and Eve heard, it tells us we’re naked and need to be afraid. Very afraid!

We react to life with unholy, untamed fear.


The voice of love


The voice of love is the voice of the Holy Spirit we hear in our hearts. It’s always a loving and encouraging voice.

As Richard Hauser writes in Moving in the Spirit—Becoming a Contemplative in Action, the Spirit always leads us to our highest good, guiding us with Divine Wisdom and understanding.

The voice of love is like a Divine life-coach helping us walk in the light of truth, wisdom, and inner peace. It’s the still, small voice that scripture says with which God spoke to Elijah and through which God continues to speak to us in the silence of our hearts (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:12).

According to Hauser, the goal of the spiritual life is to discover the movement of the Spirit within our lives and respond to the still, small voice—the God-nudges—by following where the voice of love leads and directs us.

But in a noisy, often-chaotic world, it’s tough to hear the Spirit’s voice. The clamor of the secular world and our own ego distract us. They drown out God’s quiet whispers.

To quiet the clamoring noise of the world, we need to pick up the tools and practices that lead us into inner stillness.

Spiritual practices to the rescue!




Fortunately, the inspired wisdom of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, who created the first twelve-step program in 1935, provides us with a practical way to hear the voice of love.

Bill W. wrote, “The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.”

We have to apply the principles of spiritual living to our daily lives. We have to do the inner work to get away from the noise of the world each day, quiet ourselves, and create space within our hearts where the Spirit can connect with us, where we can hear the voice of God’s love and wisdom embracing and guiding us.

This spiritual practice is further outlined in AA’s Step 11:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

This inner work to connect with the Spirit each day through prayer or meditation is what I like to call having coffee with the Creator. The daily tool of quiet time lets us exercise and expand our soul’s capacity to discover the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives.

In the silence of our hearts, we can hear the whisper of God leading us. We can take our problems and fears to the Creator and listen for his wisdom to guide us.

As Bill W. notes:

“In AA we have found that the actual good results of prayer are beyond question. They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond the usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.” – Bill W.


Whose voice are you listening to?



Don’s question, “Whose voice are you listening to?” is one we can all apply to our lives. We can take time for meditation and stop and pause throughout the day to discover which of the three voices we’re giving awareness and power. We can then choose which voice we want to hear and follow. We can learn to trust the voice of love.

Like going to the gym to develop a healthy body, spending time in daily prayer and meditation in whatever form suits you best, develops a healthy soul—one that leads you to life-giving pathways of peace, stillness, and inner freedom.

Some tools for your spiritual toolbox



If you need a jumpstart for your meditation practice, download this free resource on my website: Meditation Practice Jump-Starter.

You can also discover a smorgasbord of meditation practices and choose which one is just right for you by downloading this resource: Lord, Teach Us to Pray as You Do.

And if you’d like a way to quiet your mind, consider this YouTube Video: How Do I Quiet My Mind?


A new year practice


As we move into a new year, try applying Step 11 to your life. Seek to improve your conscious contact with God as you understood the Divine through daily prayer and meditation.

In your quiet time, ask the Creator for the grace to understand the Spirit’s guidance and the power to carry that out in tangible, life-giving ways.

When you create a natural time and space in your everyday life to discern which of the three voices you’re listening to, you learn how to hear and follow the Divine Voice of Love.

And in doing so, you’ll find what Bill W. promises: “A peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.”


—brian j plachta

You’re Invited: January Worshops

Finding Flow: A LANE Retreat

Spiritual Practices for Those Seeking to Reclaim Inner Peace, Balance, and Wholeness

  • What does inner peace look like to you?
  • What does it mean for your life to be balanced?
  • How do you feel when you sense wholeness?
  • What are the spiritual tools and practices that allow us to discover and sustain the flow of inner peace, balance, and wholeness?

Join us as we unpack these questions and discover a pathway to your Inner Self and God. With the Holy Spirit and author and spiritual director Brian Plachta as our guides, you’ll learn four ancient practices our spiritual teachers and heroes incorporated into their lives to live in the Divine Flow.

Based upon Brian’s new book, Finding Flow-Spiritual Practices to Reclaim Inner Peace, Balance, and Wholeness, this retreat will provide you with the tools you need for your journey into the heart of God and your True Self.

Besides registering for the workshop, you’re invited to purchase a copy of Brian’s book to deepen your spiritual journey. His book will be available for purchase at the workshop, or you can save by purchasing it on Amazon.

Join us for this retreat and discover a field guide for your personal spiritual journey. Experience living in Divine Flow.

Click Here to Learn More & Register




Written by Brian J. Plachta

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