Are You Overriding Your Soul With “Should?”

soul should

By Lissa Rankin MD

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

For many years, my soul was trying to guide me, but I wasn’t paying attention. Even when my soul tried to communicate with big glaring WARNING signs or GO HERE billboards, I disregarded the signs. Thinking back to the year 2000, I have to laugh when I think about how my former husband and I stood in line for three hours at the courthouse to get our marriage certificate. And finally, when we were at the very front of the line, belly up to the courthouse clerk, there was a bomb threat. A BOMB THREAT! I literally turned to my fiancé and said, “Is it a sign?”

Of course it was a sign, Lissa! I’d already received other, more subtle signs that foretold the destructive patterns that later became impossible to ignore. But I overlooked those signs at the time, just like I ignored the flashing red bomb threat that forced us to evacuate the courthouse.

Why did I ignore such blatant soul guidance? Because I was attached to marrying this guy, I wrote it off as “coincidence,” even though somewhere deep within me, I knew better.

How “Should” Interferes with Soul Guidance

Consider the times you’ve ignored your soul’s guidance. Chances are good that you did so because you thought you should. The wedding invites are already sent, so you should go through with the wedding. You’ve already spent so many years training for the job your soul wants you to leave. The money is good. It’s a secure job in an insecure economy. You should stay. Your soul is telling you that you don’t have to take care of the elderly relative who treats you like dirt, but another part of you thinks you should. You’re working yourself to death to pay for the fancy house and the private school, and your soul is telling you to simplify, downsize, and send the kids to public school. But you don’t think you should sacrifice their quality of life for yours.

Your soul doesn’t want to go to church anymore, but you should. Your soul doesn’t want to hang out with the friend you’ve known for twenty years anymore, but you should. Your soul doesn’t like the missionary position and wants to get down and dirty, but you should not let on that you fantasize the way you do. Your soul wants to dance under the moonlight, but you should go to the gym. Your soul wants to eat dark chocolate, but you should eat kale.

God forbid you actually follow the soul’s guidance. All hell might break loose. There could be anarchy.

Overriding the Soul’s Guidance

Because we’re so full of ideas and judgements about what we should and shouldn’t do, we tend to talk ourselves out of our soul’s guidance. We don’t trust that our soul knows what’s best, so we tend to write off soul guidance as mere coincidence or whimsy or even folly. To both pay attention and heed soul guidance may require radical acts of courage, and that can feel terrifying.

Where will my soul lead me? How uncomfortable will I have to get? How much uncertainty will I need to tolerate?

The soul doesn’t care about certainty. The soul cares about freedom.

When the Soul Has to Yell

Every time we override the soul’s guidance, the soul tends to get louder, not because you don’t have free will and not because the soul is punishing you, but because the soul is always trying to get through to you. The soul doesn’t necessarily speak the same language as you, so it may not just start rattling off soul guidance in your ear. Instead, it will use anything it can- dreams, emails, people who show up with messages for you, physical symptoms, gut instincts, bumper stickers, synchronicities that make you pay attention. The soul is always trying to guide you, but when you repetitively ignore it, it has to get crafty. Sometimes you wind up clobbered with the proverbial 2 x 4.

The soul’s guidance may start as a guiding dream or a persistent thought or a book or blog post that seems to speak directly to you. But if you ignore the soul’s guidance, the soul may guide you through painful interventions, like loss or illness. The soul is always yearning for you to WAKE UP and free yourself from all the shoulds. It will use any vehicle at its disposal to help you face the TRUTH about who you are and what is aligned with your true self.

10 Ways Your Soul Guides You in Daily Life

Because so many people suffer from what the shamans call “soul loss”, they lose touch with the soul’s guidance and wind up feeling lost, confused, disconnected, lonely, and out of touch with the purpose and meaning in their lives. Reconnecting with the soul’s guidance is medicine for the soul.

If you feel like you’re not optimally tapped into your soul’s guidance and would like to learn more about how your soul might be speaking to you, please feel free to listen to the recording of the free teleclass I conducted with Kitchen Table Wisdom author Rachel Naomi Remen MD: 10 Ways Your Soul Guides You In Daily Life. (Get the recording here).

Are You Overriding Your Soul?

Or are you trusting and acting on your soul’s guidance? Share your stories of how your soul has guided you, or how you’ve resisted it, in the comments section below.

With the utmost gratitude and respect for the soul’s wise counsel,

Updated September 2014

Previous articles by Lissa:

About the author:

lissa rankinLissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.

Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities – and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

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  • Happy Valley

    Hi Lissa, I enjoyed reading your blog because it struck me that I had an experience which was almost the opposite of yours.

    Let me first give some background by saying that in my earlier days, I had fallen for quite a number of girls and was quite in touch with what it was like to fall in love. I was very fortunate that way.

    When I was 19, my father retired and moved our family across country. My brother and I were not too happy about having been separated from lifelong friends this way; and endeavored to find our way back, by leaving home, to return home.

    I worked at a job all summer, had gotten accepted at a university in my old home town, paid for tuition, residence and my airline ticket. After I gave my 2 weeks notice, one of my co-workers approached me and said: “You might want to think about asking so-and-so out, as I think she’d really like to see you before you leave.” Well, naturally enough I was cautious, but thought… heck she’s been a friend, and it might be nice just to get out. I did ask her out, and she said ok, and gave me her phone#. I never did tell her that someone had given me a heads-up; I knew from past experiences that girls could get upset that their female friends would do something like that.

    Anyhow, we arranged a double-date for a movie, but first spending a little time at her friends apartment. I began realizing that here was a nice group of friends… but I’m leaving soon. During the movie, something happened. I don’t know if it was from just sitting beside her, or holding her hand? But it just washed over me and I knew I had fallen for her, even though my mind was saying No! No! You’re leaving! My heart simply overrode my mind. I remember walking beside her going back to my car after. Her observant friends had scooted ahead. We were walking close, you know, slightly bumping into each other as we walked. It was more like floating along actually.

    When we dropped her friends off, I remember we looked at each other and our eyes got wide and we smiled. I got butterflies and a gush of stomach acid. We are finally alone! I remember letting go of the fact that I was leaving soon, and just let it happen. I’d been at this point enough times before, to know what was happening, and I just let it happen. It was a long drive back to her house, and I remember saying goodnight at the corner of the house, in the dark. I asked for a kiss. She seemed flattered or bemused, but let me give her a peck on the cheek. It was like I floated all the way home. Once home and in bed, regrets began to flood in. What have I just done? This isn’t fair to her or me. What a way to complicate things.

    Next time I saw her was in a supply room at work. There was a group of people, including her. It was like I got tunnel vision and only saw her, and noticed how tanned she’d become over the summer, and how beautiful she was. I felt awkward, and a bit sheepish about what had happened, and didn’t know what to say; so I asked her out again. She said ok, give her a call.

    I’m trying not to be too long-winded here, but after the next date, I dropped her off at home again. I can still see her hand in front of the windshield waving me to stop. Her lane way was long and she wanted me to stop under a grove of trees, and shut off the lights. She then said she was afraid of getting any closer, because she was afraid of getting hurt when I left (very soon), and didn’t want to go out again. My mind had to agree with her 100%, but my heart was breaking. She then gave me her address and said to write if I wanted to, and slid over and started kissing me. It seemed like it was going on forever. I can still see her closed eyes( i opened mine during) She then hopped out of the car. The last I saw of her was when she turned to wave goodbye. I don’t know about her, but I sure cried when I got to bed that night.
    I remember the flight back to my hometown, leaving this second home. I was conflicted because I was finally returning to my old circle of friends, after much planning (so I SHOULD go right?); but I was also leaving this wonderful girl behind.

    We wrote back and forth for a short while, until I got a letter saying she’d gotten a boyfriend. It was like the second shoe dropping. Once I recovered, I began dating some of the girls at the university, and life went on. As well, I was very happy to be back with my old friends… some from kindergarten.

    I truly hope she found a good husband, and has a happy life; as I have a wonderful wife and we have been together, in love, for over 30 years.

    She’ll always remain a clear example to me, of how one’s heart can override one’s mind; even if one’s mind is kicking and screaming and saying “No!”. Should I have stayed? Could it have worked out? That’s not in my knowing, but at minimum I had a spark of love with her, and learned this lesson.

    • kerri

      Hi, this was a while ago I see but I just came upon it. What was the lesson? Do you feel you should have stayed? Or do you think, leaving was the right thing because that is what happened. I am curious. Thanks, hope you’re still happy and healthy today!

  • Patty

    More than thirty years ago, I sat at a table in a nice restaurant surrounded by friends. I went to open the bottle of ketchup and a little voice inside me said ” Don’t open this ketchup. It will explode!” “Am I nuts?” I thought.

    I ignored the voice. I opened the brand new bottle of ketchup, turning the lid hard. BAM!!!! It exploded, covering me in a brand new white linen and lace blouse and all nine of my table mates in ketchup.

    I am still not quite sure what that message was about, but you had better believe that I listen to that little voice!

    Right now, I am in bed, recovering from a bilateral mastectomy. Cancer is a very serious message. I am trying to figure out what is being said to me.

    I look forward to lstening to the teleclass.

    Thank You.

  • Derick Erasmus

    I really enjoy and appreciate your site and would like to share it on my face book page, just don’t know how to do that. In the mean time you are making a difference in my life.

    Kind Regards