Do you remember the cartoons where the characters argued with themselves? The ones where the devil sat on one shoulder and said, "Do it," and an angel sat on the other and said, "Don't do it."

The devil represented wrong choices. The angel represented choosing the right and often warned of possible consequences if the devil's advice was followed.

The shoulder angel is the still small voice that guides us to make the right choices. Many times we don't want to follow it, especially in the heat of a wrong, but when we listen and follow its advice, wrongs are solved much more smoothly.

Some call the voice the Holy Ghost, some the Holy Spirit and still others may call it the Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, Spirit of Christ, or the Comforter, Inner Voice or conscious. No matter its name, when followed, it may save hours of heartache.

Listen, it's important

The Spirit of God seldom yells. Some say it's more like a feeling or thought and is not easily heard in loud situations. This makes hearing the voice difficult, especially when in the gravity of the situation, and requires learning how to hear its protective guidance. To receive these instructions, the mind and soul must be kept clean through proper speech, thoughts and actions. The Spirit is easily chased away during continued arguing, conflict and division.

How do we know we're listening to the Spirit of Christ and not our own thoughts? It's a learning experience and may include mistakes. The Spirit speaks to the heart and the mind and offers good choices, not evil options.

Listening to the still small voice is extremely important to health. Wrong choices tend to lead to physical and spiritual ill-health.

Follow the still small voice

Anger, hatred and vengeance make it harder to hear or follow the voice. The devil on the character's shoulder advises against forgiveness and presses for vengeance. The angel recommends forgiveness and to stay away from retaliation.

Vengeance and continuous thoughts of retaliation spiral down into unhappiness and physical symptoms of illness. Forgiveness, no matter how difficult, is necessary to protect against physical and spiritual suffering as explained in this article, Free at last: I forgive you.

Following the Inner Voice is also extremely important in a healthy relationship. Many times something will be said or done that angers or hurts and brings out the shoulder devil. Don't listen. The advice is faulty and can lead to the destruction and loss of the relationship. Listen to the Comforter as it tries to stop retaliatory hurtful words or responses. Physically and spiritually you'll be stronger for obeying your "Don't do it" advice.

The shoulder devil wants you as unhappy as it is. Ask yourself if this is what you want. This question needs to be answered before words or actions of anger are expressed. Being prepared to hear the conscious as it warns during a conflict will help prevent saying or doing something regretful. (If the Holy Ghost is heard, then he is still speaking and regret is definitely a possibility. Follow the still small voice before anguish is a constant companion.)

Think before speaking

In the heat of anger, the devil sounds right and hateful, burning words will hurt the recipient as soon as those words pass lips and the messenger will begin to feel guilt. Some may deny this, but the Spirit is doing its best to stop the retaliatory angry response. Many times before it crosses injured lips. Why? Anger is harmful to the family, friends and the soul.

Think before acting

One purpose of the Holy Ghost is to guide away from and instill the desire to be free of sin. Mark Twain said, "Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often."

Just like thinking before speaking, thinking before acting is important. Improper actions in anger may create an unwanted reputation. As in speaking, the Holy Spirit will do its best to prevent improper actions. Calm down and listen to the shoulder angel as the Comforter tries to replace anger, hatred and hurt with love, peace and comfort.

The inner voice provides choices to lead to joy, peace, love, patience, hope, faith, meekness, comfort, gentleness, protection from deception, knowledge and truth, recognition of sin and to testify of God and Jesus Christ. Listen to the inner voice as it strives to strengthen marriages, relationships and families and protect from spiritual and physical dangers.

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