Welcome back to 20 Questions — Soul-Style! Today we are talking with Sonia Choquette, New York Times best-selling author, spiritual teacher and visionary guide. An enchanting storyteller, Sonia is known for her delightful humor and adept skill in quickly shifting people out of psychological and spiritual difficulties and into a healthier energy flow. Sonia is a philanthropist, radio show host and avid traveler, she was named Leader of the Year by the Global Holistic Psychology Association and she also received an award for Exceptional Human Service by 1st Human Spirituality in Hyderabad, India. Sonia attended the University of Denver and the Sorbonne in Paris and also holds a doctorate from the American Institute of Holistic Theology. Here are her inspiring answers to my 20 Questions.
20 Questions — Soul-Style
1. Who are you?
My name is Sonia Choquette and I am a traveler, a dancer, a creator, a healer, an alchemist and a lover of life and all the blessings of the human experience.
2. What do you do?
I guide people out of what I call the “bad neighborhood” of endless fear and figuring out in life and lead them back to their inner voice, their intuition, their authentic Spirit and their creative power. I do this in many ways. I am an intuitive coach and consultant as well as a writer, speaker, teacher, storyteller and energy midwife for those ready to birth their true nature in the world. Through my books, one-on-one consultations, workshops, speaking engagements and online courses, I help people create their heart’s desires, overcome their fears, restore their well-being, find their joy, correct their course when they’ve drifted and help them fall deeply in love with their beautiful Spirit. I consider mine to be very important work. Without being tuned into our intuition and Spirit, we become lost, afraid, angry, depressed, hurt and hurtful souls. We feel insecure, afraid and even threatened. We make choices that do not serve or support our true nature, give away our power to others and lose touch with beauty. Tuning out inner guidance is the worst handicap a person can suffer and is a totally unnecessary one. I’m here to turn that around in as many souls as possible, and that is what I spend most of my time doing. I not only inform people of the importance of their intuition, but I also show people exactly what their intuition feels like, how it differs from wishful thinking and ego mind and how to make it quickly work for them. I give people more than information — I give people tools and then create in them a direct experience of their inner voice and Spirit. Then I add a few guiding tools to keep them in tune with their Spirit as they carry on, and I set them on their way.
3. Why do you do it?
I do this because I love it. I see, first hand, how it brings people back to life, and it fills me with joy. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving back to me. I also do it because I believe we can change the world, one authentic person at a time, and I’m committed to doing just that.
4. How did you find your way to it?
I never found my way to it; I was born into it. I grew up in an intuitive home, and in my world the sixth sense was always considered the first. As one of 7 children, I quickly learned that the best way to get noticed was to be really skilled at using my intuition, so that became my focus. I exercised my intuitive muscles like some exercise their biceps. It was my fun, my sport and my endless entertainment. And because in my home using my intuition was expected of me, I had no obstacle or fear in expressing it. By the time I was 12 years old, I was using my intuitive abilities to help my mom’s friends or the neighbors and then their friends and their neighbors. My reputation grew, as did my work. I was not happy just doing that, however. I couldn’t understand how others had become so disconnected with what I considered to be the strongest sense of all, the voice in their heart. To me this was the worst handicap imaginable. I wanted to help people reconnect with their own intuition over depending on mine, because without it I felt they would be lost at sea. I never made a decision — it seemed this decision was already made on a soul level in my heart. It was my clear path, and I just followed it. I continued from there, and this has been my life's work ever since. I feel very strongly that I came here to serve in this way and have never had a day when I questioned this. I love my vocation and the people I serve, and I am certain I will never stop. It’s who I am.
5. How do you feel when you do it?
I feel guided, inspired, privileged, challenged, fearless, happy, energized, loving, humbled, thrilled, focused and surprised, over and over again. It is exhilarating and peaceful at the same time. I feel at one with myself, with others and with the Universe. I work with absolute trust, so I never think or worry about my work. I just show up and do what I am guided to do in the moment.
6. What is the joy that keeps you up at night?
My greatest joy is the connection I have with my two now-grown daughters, Sonia, age 26, and Sabrina, age 24. They have both followed in my footsteps and in the family way, just as I followed my mother’s footsteps. They teach and travel with me with me as well as have their own budding intuitive guidance and coaching practices. We have a tremendously good time together, in both work and play. I feel so LUCKY that I can do what I love with the 2 people I love MOST in the world and at the same time learn from them and their gorgeous Spirits as I go.
7. What is one thing you still have to practice every day?
I have to practice relaxing. I love my work so much, and I love life, adventure, creating, traveling and experiencing it all and don’t want to miss a thing, so it’s easy to forget to stop and rest. So easy that I must remind myself to relax every day, at least a little bit. It’s not that I am stressed; it’s just that I am busy. The best way I have found to relax is by practicing yoga every morning before I start my day. I love it. I need it. It is so good for me.
8. What are you always searching for?
In my inner world, I’m always searching for even greater ways to listen to my Spirit, teach others to do the same and be at one with God. In my external world I’m always searching for the next corner of this beautiful world to visit and explore, the next exotic market to wander through, the next wonderful restaurant to dine in, the next work of art or piece of music to enjoy and the next beautiful soul to meet and share a moment in life together.
9. What have you found after searching?
I have found that God is only a breath away, and when I stop thinking and simply breathe deeply, I am at one with my Beloved, my Creator. I have also found that this world is a beautiful one, filled with gorgeous, good people and that love is far more alive and well in all humans than we are told is true. I have also found that we humans are more alike than different. We all want to feel safe, loved, secure, creative, valued and free. We all share the same breath, and while we may occupy different “neighborhoods” of both mind and planet, we are connected in the heart by the same breath of Life. Because of this unifying breath I have learned there is no “them” in the world; there is only “Us.” When we engage as part of “Us” and leave “them” behind, life becomes inviting, welcoming and wonderful.
10. How do you stay connected to your inner core of peace?
I openly express gratitude for all the blessings in my life, out loud, every single day. I truly view everything in my life, even the painful stuff (and I have as much as anyone), as a blessing, because it presents an opportunity for my soul to grow. The more grateful I am and say so, the more peaceful I feel. I also laugh a lot, especially at myself. If I am not peaceful, it is because I have lost momentary contact with my Spirit and I have foolishly turned my fate over to my inadequate ego, who takes itself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. When I do this I feel so agitated that I cannot stand it. It feels as though I am being electrocuted, so I cannot stay in this mindset for long. I laugh myself back to peace. I’ve actually made it a habit. No matter how painful life seems at times, as long as I remember to laugh I know I’ll be OK.
11. What makes you feel led or guided?
I feel led by my Spirit through vibration, the subtle energy that originates in the center of my heart and spreads throughout my body. This energy actually moves me in the direction of my highest good, mentally, emotionally and physically. It takes on many expressions and borrows my other senses to communicate with me. Sometimes I feel my Spirit in my chest and throat; sometimes I hear an inner voice. Sometimes I simply know what is true or not true for me, and sometimes I find myself acting without thinking at all and in a way that only my inner voice could have prompted me to act. I am in the habit of actively listening for and allowing my inner guidance to move me at all times over figuring things out intellectually. I am completely surrendered to my intuition, my Spirit, and I follow without hesitation or question.
12. What do you do when you can’t hear God (or the Universe, or Source, or your intuition) speaking to you?
In those rare times when I become disconnected from my Spirit and intuition, I know it is because I've been sitting too long or thinking too much. I’ve wandered back into the “bad neighborhood” of strictly left-brained thinking and need to get up and get moving. To reconnect with my authentic Self, I go outside and walk for as long as possible. When I walk, I ask myself what I am afraid of, and then I name those things out loud. Next, I ask myself what I am looking at, right in front of me as I walk. This keeps me focused on the present moment and not caught up in some imaginary future or moment in the past. I name these things out loud as well. I repeat this until I can’t name any more fears. Then I put my hand directly over my heart and ask my Spirit for guidance. I allow my Spirit, my inner guidance, to speak by saying, “My Spirit says…” and fill in the blank, again out loud. This practice works beautifully for me. I am able to distinguish true guidance from my fearful or controlling ego, because inner guidance opens and calms my heart and relaxes my mind and body. My ego, on the other hand, causes my mind and body to contract and closes off my heart even more. It's a clear physical tell for me.
13. What is the difference between resistance and fear?
I don't think there is much difference, except to say that because of fear, resistance is the ego's way of trying to fight the Spirit for control. It's an active defiance of one's authentic Spirit, rooted in arrogance and pride. Simple fear alone can be more passive. It shows up as inaction, confusion and doubt more often than not. Resistance, on the other hand, pushes the Spirit away. It argues with intuition. It rejects inner guidance and refuses to listen to the heart, demanding to be “right” instead. Fear alone is perhaps less engaged in maintaining such conscious control. Fear may cause a person to lose connection with their Spirit, or it may cause a person to be hesitant in trusting their inner guidance, but it may not be as actively defiant about trusting one’s inner voice as resistance can be. In any case, exhibiting both fear and resistance may just indicate that a person may not be ready yet to take on the full responsibility for their life that comes with listening to the inner voice. To live an authentic life takes courage, a word that comes from the French word “coeur” and actually means "heart." I have found that when I’ve been in fear or resistance, taking baby steps — such as writing down or at least speaking my intuitive feelings aloud, as well as seeking out supportive people to encourage me (again, the “coeur” in there) — helps me get past these obstacles surprisingly fast. We all are naturally intuitive and Spiritually guided by design; we just need a few simple tools and some gentle support to cheer us on in order to move out of fear and resistance and get back in the flow of our true and authentic nature.
14. Where does the idea come from that we are broken, unworthy or undeserving?
Right now I am making an ancient pilgrimage across Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Raised a Catholic, while doing this pilgrimage I have attended several masses in the beautiful medieval churches that dot the entire way. Once or twice, portions of these masses have been in English, which reminded me of a part of the mass that asks us to say, "Lord, I am not worthy. Only say the word and I shall be healed." As a conscious spiritual adult I believe the true meaning of this statement is to acknowledge that my ego is not worthy to lead my life, as it is NOT my true Self. The healing occurs with the return to the Spirit and heart as leader. This is where we meet the Divine within and allow it to express through us. That shift from ego to Spirit is a genuine healing, and I love praying for this. Yet when saying this recently, I also became acutely aware of the countless number of times over years and years of going to mass as an innocent child in Catholic school that I said, "Lord, I am not worthy" and literally believed every word I said! This belief got into my brain and bones and took a hold of me as “truth.” No one explained to me the subtle esoteric meaning of that statement, and quite honestly I wouldn’t hesitate to say that many of the nuns and priests in my past actually did not see it as an esoteric statement at all. In their eyes and minds I wasn’t worthy, and they let me know it. So at least for me, this is how I came to feel this way. I am not alone in this experience. Almost everyone I've met in my life, at least in the Western world, has shared that they, too, were in some way indoctrinated with a version of this same warped message when they were young, trusting, open and innocent, if not from religious authorities then from some other indicting patriarchal authority. That is how we’ve come to believe we are so broken and unworthy. We were taught to believe this by people we trusted (or were told to trust, anyway), just as they were taught and the ones before them were taught. It’s a dark hand-me-down from ages past that serves no truth at all. The great spiritual work of our times is to break free of these soul-suffocating shackles of distortion and untruth and free the authentic and beautiful Spirit that we are. Until we realize that we are beautiful beings, we cannot be fully open, accepting and loving of one another. Ridding ourselves of these dark shadows is essential for our peace and peace in the world. I was fortunate enough to have had enough supportive scaffolding in my early life to crawl out of this dungeon of self-loathing that was thrust upon me. Happily I am now completely free of those beliefs. More importantly, it is my primary mission in life to help my brothers and sisters in the world to be able to say the same.
15. How do you move past that to connect with others on a soul level?
I look for the light in others' eyes and speak to that light over the role they play in my life or any other appearance, because that light is their true Self. If I don’t see that light, I offer a word of recognition to the Spirit to call it home. I ask, "How is your Spirit today?" rather than "How are you?" It's a surprising, even confusing question to many, but it turns one's attention inward to find the answer. If I get a negative reply, I usually say, "I hope this passes, because your Spirit matters." This comment usually turns one's inner light of Spirit back on pretty quickly, even if the ego shrugs it off. I know because I can actually see the glint and glimmer return when a person hears these words. Once I make that connection, soul to soul rather than role to role with a person, the rest usually unfolds in a positive way. I understand that this is a bold approach because it is so intimate and real, but that's the only way I live. I believe it's the only way to live.
16. How do you guide people to respond to the inclination to wait — do you consider waiting to be a form of action or an intuitive feeling as well, or perhaps an urge to examine if there is fear behind taking a different direction?
When people are inclined to wait responding to their inner voice or to follow their inner guidance, I ask, “How long have you been waiting?” If they answer “just a bit” or “for now,” it might be prudent for them to take a moment or a short time to sort out if what they are feeling is intuition or just an emotional reaction. To clear this up I encourage them to identify their fears (again out loud) to see if the waiting is a way to avoid facing their fears or taking responsibility for changing their lives for the better. While following your intuition is certainly no guarantee that life will not challenge you, the rewards that come with having the courage to face any temporary discomfort in return for a life that is congruent in Spirit and filled with personal power and grace cannot be overstated. It’s a life that is free. We can have that, but you have to reach for it. It won’t impose itself on you. When I encounter a client frozen with resistance and has been for a while, I remind him or her that sometimes the worst thing that could possibly happen in the face of inaction is often nothing and ask if that option is appealing. In other words, is what they are settling for in avoiding the call from their soul something that makes them happy? When they consider this, they often summon the courage to take at least a few baby steps in the direction of their inner voice — and that is all that is required...a few baby steps; one at a time. This usually gets one back in the flow with their true and authentic nature pretty fast, actually. When I was in college I read a play by Samuel Beckett called “Waiting For Godot” in which 2 men spend the entire play waiting for the arrival of someone who never shows up. It was a short play, but it left a big impression on me, driving home the tragedy of wasting our precious moments waiting for some idealized future that simply can’t happen, because we — as the creators of our lives — are the only ones who make the magic moments happen, by making empowering decisions.
17. When people get overwhelmed with making every little decision as it relates to intuition and guidance, is there a practice or method to resolving that inner conflict more quickly?
The thing about intuition is that once you start listening to it and taking baby steps in following it, the internal relief is so instantly great and feels so “true” as you begin to flow with your true nature that the overwhelm actually starts to subside rather than mount. Most of the overwhelm we feel in life comes from being stuck in the head, thinking, fearing, controlling, worrying about the future or trying to manage more than is possible or healthy in the moment, taking on responsibility for others' feelings and experiences over just being true to our own. It also comes from mistrusting others to take care of our needs or their own. So we go into overload, trying to do it all ourselves. When under water with overwhelm and unable to feel the power of your intuition — let alone it taking over — ask your Higher Self, your true nature, to take over and move you out of your own way. Just say it out loud: “Higher self," or Spirit or whatever you call your higher nature, "Move me in the direction of my true flow.” Then look out, because it will! Get up, stretch, dance, shake your hands and feet, sing a few bars of a Beatles song, bend to the left and right, walk to the corner and back with your keys in your hand, walk backwards 10 steps, jump up and down. Scream out loud if possible. “ARRGGGGHHH!” — the louder the better. All these little things effectively spring you out of the left brain where overwhelm has you imprisoned, like springing you from jail, and quickly take you to freedom and flow.
18. What is the best way to talk our ego mind out of engaging in self-sabotage (especially when we know we're doing it and we act out anyways)?
Treat your ego like your pet — a beloved puppy, for example, but one that needs training — and let it know it serves a sound master (your Higher Self) so that it doesn’t ruin your life with its acting out, much like an untrained pet pooping in the house or chewing on your best shoes or furniture. Just as you wouldn’t allow an untrained “Fido” to run amuck in your beautiful home, nor should you let your inner “Fido” do it either. Just remember your ego is your lower self, a manufactured entity driven by fear and not by love and Spirit. Have a talk with your ego like you would with your pet. Start by naming it. For example, I named my ego "Fifi." In my imagination she is a spoiled French poodle who is intelligent but can be arrogant, act superior, bark at everyone, is impatient and spends way too much money shopping, none of which serves my true nature. When I’m doing these things I know Fifi has taken over and she is making a mess of things. But I don’t try to get rid of Fifi; I have fun with her. If my ego is acting out, I often say “Fifi, knock it off and go to your corner!” Because I am playful person I also have named my Spirit just so I can easily change the channel. Her name is “Bright Light.” She is my calm inner voice who brings me back to truth and freedom and gets me out of my ego's negative patterns. I have introduced Fifi to my family and friends, but they tell me they have already met. They are free to send her to the corner as well if she is acting out with them! This is all very playful and very effective. By not taking my ego antics too seriously (thus feeling trapped and shamed), I get free of them more quickly by trying this lighter approach. The point is, I love my human nature, but I don’t allow it to pretend to be who I really am. I know I am far, far more than my limited ego, and I do not limit myself to my barking pet's antics. When I do, I feel terrible, small, afraid and jealous and all the other rotten feelings an out-of-control ego can bring on. I am clear that when I have slipped into these feelings, my inner Fifi needs time out — rest, a bath, a hug, a walk, an evening alone. The key is to name your ego as you would a pet and love it as you would a pet — but let it knows its place. It’s not your Spirit, the master of your life. Developing a real sense of humor around your ego rather than struggling with it is the key to breaking free of its negative patterns more quickly. Of course you will fall back into these patterns from time to time, as all humans do, but at least you can identify your ego as apart from your Spirit in this way and get back on track with your true nature without adding to the struggle and drama already flying around.
19. How do I know if it's my intuition speaking or a temptation talking?
Intuition brings with it a calm feeling most if the time. It doesn’t talk too much. It is a force with few words, if any. It conveys direction simply. “Do this. Not that. Walk away,” for example. If you're having an ego temptation, on the other hand, it shows up as a lengthy inner conversation filled with justifications, defenses and over-analysis. Intuition leaves you feeling peaceful and at ease. It is the voice of your true nature, so it feels like a key entering a keyhole. It just fits, with no force involved. Temptation is a force that is not in alignment with your Higher Self, your true nature. It flatters, it coerces and it talks to you as if you are “special” so you get to play by “special” rules, all of which are not true guidance. Temptation leaves you feeling stressed. It is pushy, urgent. Pay attention to the tone of your inner feelings. Be honest in your assessment. Intuition is clear, unyielding straight talk. Temptation isn’t.
20. When a feeling of unease or discomfort arises at either fork in the road, is that indicative of fear, or is it your intuition guiding you to choose a different path entirely?
It could be either. Intuition may be telling you that taking a certain path could be difficult but is the better way in the long run, or it could be fear trying to hold you back. You can’t know for sure, but you can feel it in your heart if you use the tools I’ve suggested, such as speaking out loud, examining the tone of the feeling that comes as you speak and breathing into it, because intuition is your natural inner guidance system. It’s part of you. It can be trusted if you work with it a little and are patient. To tune inward is not looking for an elusive needle in a haystack; it’s giving voice and power to the big, beautiful Bright Light of Spirit that is you. Once you start doing this, you cannot miss it. The best way to settle the question is to ask your Higher Self if what you are feeling is intuition or fear, then answer out loud. Your Higher Self is your true nature. It is not a cartoon idea of you that you carry around in your head. If anything, your ego is the cartoon idea of you that is trying to run the show. Let your Higher Self speak to you. If you ask for it to guide you, you are essentially asking YOU, the GREATER YOU, to guide you. Believe that there is a greater you in there capable of offering you brilliant guidance. It is the truth.
Wow. Sonia, I feel like we just had a moment, right? (Or several?) Did you guys feel it too? I will be honest, I already have a name for my ego, but I love the idea of giving a different name to the true self or true nature because, as it is, about a million different terms exist to describe that, yet none of them are personal to each individual (which I find quite ironic)! There are so many juicy tools within this interview alone, I cannot wait to try Sonia's walking meditation-slash-conversation with fear and speaking out loud — much like mirror work — to my intuition, especially when it comes to that one little question that likes to trick us so often: Is this intuition speaking, or is it simply fear? I hope you try it too. Let me know how it goes.
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