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Finding Inspiration: Listening For What Matters

This looked like a very uninspiring sticker from a distance.

A small black line on a blank white wall.

But looks can be deceiving like that:

This inspires you,” it read.

It sparked a whole lot of queries (not least of which was, what is a sticker like this doing here and what is it actually on about? Mysterious…)

So what inspires you?

Just take a moment and see where this question leads you…

And how do you actually know that?

That sounds like a slightly mad thing to ask, but how do you recognize inspiration when it comes? What are the signs of it when they happen for you? Is there a sudden flood of imagination? A racing mind? A feeling or an energy inside?

Perhaps getting to know the shape of this thing called inspiration might make it easier to recognize and to draw on more readily when you’re feeling depleted. (For sometimes it seems easier to notice inspiration’s absence in our lives – when everything seems turned to grey).

Julia Cameron, who writes about discovering or recovering creativity, talks about ‘listening to inspiration’ – trying to hear that inner voice with increasing accuracy. To catch what it might be whispering.

So how could you listen to your inspiration more actively, or invite it in to your life more often?

When do you feel it growing stronger, or notice it happening more? What qualities or behaviours might support it?

Maybe a sense of time factors into it.
Or place.
Or a certain kind of company.
Or moments alone.

And when is your inspiration undermined?
Does it vanish if there’s too much pressure to perform?
Does it matter whether your inner critic is off the leash or not?

Inspiration can seem such an enigmatic factor in our lives (and sometimes quite slippery and whimsical). Yet maybe engaging with it more consciously – really listening to it – might bring new insights into how we want to live. New insights into what we value. And new insights into how to create a life that reflects what really matters to us.

And in that way, perhaps the inspiration of mind and spirit is as vital to us as the inspiration of breath…

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.

Finding Inspiration: Listening For What Matters

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2010). Finding Inspiration: Listening For What Matters. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Sep 2010
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