6 things you need to know about your inner genius



Becoming one’s true self means revealing one’s innate genius. — Michael Meade


You have one.

She goes by many names. Inner genius. Deep self. Intuition. North Star. Inner voice. Muse. Spirit. Creative intelligence. Higher Power.

I like ‘daimon’, myself.

The ancient Greeks saw the daimon as a spirit who lived deep within the human psyche.

Mythology has it that each soul comes to earth encoded with a special mission, which it forgets as soon as it enters the stratosphere and must spend its life-on-earth rediscovering. The daimon is a kind of cosmic travelling companion and spiritual familiar meant to help the soul stay on track. She can be a force of creation or destruction (she can get seriously pissed), depending on whether the soul heeds or denies her subtle instructions.

She’s a badass.

(Over time, the daimon divided into the angel who sits on one shoulder and the devil who sits on the other.)

You don’t actually have to believe this stuff. Treat it as a metaphor for your unconscious. At any given point in time, your unconscious is processing a zillion bits of information that your conscious mind can’t handle. It’s blending things together and making loose associations and working over problems and figuring out what you should do with your life, based on the information acquired from your experiences and the way those experiences made you feel. Its aim is to point you toward what feels good (hot fudge sundae, love, meaningful experience, doing what you’re good at) and away from what feels bad (anything that might eat you).


She communicates in code.

Your daimon does not believe in straightforward communication. That would just make things too easy.

Your daimon is like that really hot man or woman who casts you alluring glances and disappears into the shadow, beckoning you to follow, because she totally likes to play mindgames like that.

The soul has to figure out its special life purpose on its own. That’s the only way it can grow and evolve and learn what it needs to learn to fulfill the sacred contract that brought it here in the first place. In that growth and transformation lies the meaning of your life.

The daimon won’t do your work for you. You have to create your own experience – and discover your own meaning.

The unconscious lives in the part of the brain that has no language. It is nonverbal, nonlinear, big-picture: it flashes on the forest all at once, instead of walking from tree to tree to tree. When it wants to get your attention, it puts a dream or an image or a hunch into a mental bottle and lobs it up into your conscious. Or it filters incoming stimuli so that you will, as they say, see signs: things in the outside world that seem to link together in uncanny ways, creating a pattern of meaning just for you (Jung called this ‘synchronicity’).


The day-to-day world gets in her way.

There’s the story embedded deep in your soul – the story of your real, true life – and then there’s the story that everybody else would have you live out.

At any given time, we face a choice: to forge our own path, work out our own story, or fit ourselves to the agendas of others.

The soul would have us find our singular purpose.

Mass culture would deny that purpose and promote the same goals for everyone.

To find and follow your purpose, you have to turn down the volume of the culture.

The kind of creative thinking that draws from the wealth of the unconscious happens on a different frequency than practical, everyday thinking. The alert, vigilant and focused state of mind required to complete that to-do list is not conducive to creativity.

If anything, the creative state (dreamy, loose, slow, relaxed, absorbed) and the pragmatic state are polar opposites.

To get out of ‘pragmatic’ and into ‘creative’ requires a downshift in brain waves. It’s why meditation is so helpful. It’s why naps are a good idea. It’s why so many of our best ideas and insights pop off when we’re zoning in the shower, or driving or running or doing some other repetitive activity that puts our conscious minds on automatic. When the conscious mind settles down, the mental gatekeepers get off work and the unconscious comes out to play.


She will take you away from what you know.

Every hero’s journey starts with a separation. To follow your calling, you have to leave the ordinary world behind and venture into uncharted territory. The old idea of you, shaped by external voices and internalized as your own distorted view of yourself, has to die so that a new reality may emerge.

You can’t find yourself if you never get lost.

Tara Sophia Mohr points out in her post 7 Surprising Ways to Discover Your Calling that one way to recognize your calling is when you don’t have everything you need and you aren’t yet the person you need to be.

That’s kind of the point.

You have to start before you’re ready. You have to get beyond your comfort zone. Only on the journey can you overcome the obstacles and acquire the skills, knowledge and self-knowledge that will get you to your destination.

The journey owns you.

And that’s a good thing.


You will resist her.

If it was easy to create cool epic shit, to be authentic and original, then everybody would be doing it….


She demands discipline and mastery.

…which is why you need a disciplined mind. Caroline Myss says that your inner creative badass, your daimon, is always in your head, nagging you about the actions you need to take.

And they’re often little actions.

Sometimes they don’t even seem that creative.

It’s sending that email or taking that seminar or cleaning out your closet or paying your bills or any of the other mundane activities that, left unfinished, clutter up your headspace and distract and annoy you. Scatter your focus. Prevent you from getting to your real work.

Creative work also happens one task at a time. Writing that page. And another and another until eventually you have a novel. Small actions, taken consistently, that don’t seem to be making any difference until they accumulate into something extraordinary: the so-called big bang, overnight success, quantum leap.

Listening to your daimon about the small things, and training yourself to complete those tasks one after the other after the other, is a practice. It strengthens your willpower and attunes you to your inner voice.

So when your daimon has something big to say – you can hear it.

And when she points you to the challenge of your life – you’ll be ready.

Aug 1, 2012

9 comments · Add Yours

I agree on all points, especially “You will resist her.” My vultures of resistance are always circling around me, taunting me, and making me feel guilty for not doing my soul’s work. Resistance is the biggest challenge I must overcome on a day-to-day basis. In that respect, being a creative badass can feel like hell. But not being one feels worse. You just have to trust the journey, I guess. :)


hey, Justine. I turned 21 today. as I lie here in bed with my laptop mulling over the events that led to me being alone in bed with my laptop on my 21st, I’m just regretting not having read this piece a year ago, or fuck it, 7 years ago. what you’ve wrote here is something I wish every lost suburban girl could read as we grow up deeply mired in shallow cultural diarrhea… the way you write is warm and fortifying, a vibe that is seriously just too rare in this plastic part of the world. thank you for sending out a bit of your courage and strength for others to soak in, it really means something to see another source of light in this clusterfuck.


Thank you Justine.
I am right there.
Right now.
And this was perfect timing … erm, synchronicity. ;)


Sometimes I think Step One is the hardest part. Followed by listening. Where is the webinar on *that*? Lovely post, one I may print and keep handy, if only to justify my new-found fondness for napping :)


I just wanted to say that this article seriously resonated with me. I love your writing and simple no bs way of putting things.


@Luke Redd I have been known to have some trust issues, so ‘trusting the journey’ isn’t as easy as it sounds. :) I’m also a world-class procrastinator, although I’m working on that.

@k Thank you for that.

@Melissa Jaine Glad to hear it!

@Karen I went through a period where I had to reconnect with that inner voice — that daimon — and what I found was that the hard part actually wasn’t listening to it. I could hear it fine. I’d just developed this kneejerk habit of discounting it, or ignoring it, which — among other things — spoke to my deep insecurity + made me susceptible to the manipulations of others. Don’t know if that helps…As Michael Meade pointed out, the first challenge is listening to that voice. The second challenge is actually acting on it.

@Moxie Lisa Honored. Thanks.


This comment is SO going to read like spam from Good Cheap Reel Rolodex, but…damn.
I am so glad I found this website. Your posts inspire. I will follow back. (God, I hope you get those spams on your blog, like I do. If you don’t, you think I’m a lunatic.) Anyway, seriously? This is great shit. I’m following now.


Thank you Justine. Powerful. Poignant. Fortifying. Soulful. I’m sharing with my tribe. xo


I can so relate to this. All true and so well said. I also call her ‘daimon’, first heard that term on Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk, and then went on to read a book about the daimon. I have signed up for your updates so looking forward to reading all that you write :) I hope you don’t mind if I re-post this on my blog.


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