For example, what if I hear a voice telling me, “You really need to increase your daily intake of large gooey butter croissants”?
Or, “You must replace aaaaall the Harry Potter books you got rid of…go to the bookstore and do it NOW.”
And haven’t we all read of people who did horrible things because some kind of voice told them to do it? (Yet what the stories usually omit is all the dark stuff the person was engaged in long before he heard those evil voices.)
The thing is, the above doesn’t really happen. Yet the occasional times I do get a “message” that sounds “off,” I ask Hashem about it. Sometimes, I re-orient my mind by thanking Hashem more and praising Him, and then asking again.
(Anyway, according to the Gemara, it’s essential to open up any Divine chat session with praises and thank-You notes.)
For example, I often ask Hashem how I should deal with people who have hurt me or have behaved in ways I find problematic or off-putting.
Interestingly, the message can be exactly the opposite of what my heart tells me.
Attack of The Chashuv Monster: Aack! Run for Your Lives!
Based on halacha, my personal policy is to treat everybody with equal courtesy, regardless of status and middot (unless of course, the person is a true gadol or possesses exemplary middot or deeds, in which case, I’ll treat them with even more respect and courtesy). And I see that a lot of other people have this policy too.
I've also been a rebbetzin myself, so I know that the majority of people in religious leadership positions are just regular people who aren't actually any better than anyone else...and may even be a lot worse. (Although if you're lucky, your rabbi or rebbetzin genuinely means well and is not just there for all the worldly perks that can come with that position.)
Nonetheless, each time I ran into this "chashuv" person, my skin crawled and I felt like jerking back in disgust. This made it very difficult to be nice.
Yet each time I asked Hashem about it, the answer was:
Be kind. You have no idea has much she’s suffered.
And believe me, in my heart of hearts, I was not feeling kindly inclined toward this person. She herself can be egotistical and unkind, as she showed in the tragic situation mentioned above.
And yes, the message was to be kind.
Not "nice" or "indulgent" or "sweet" or "assertive"...but kind.
Not to grovel or cater to her every suggestion or request. No flattery either. And not to swoon with all sorts of excuses for her unacceptable behavior.
And certainly not to be rude in any way or toss her an obviously tight smile as I go by.
But to be kind.
Kindness implies gentleness, understanding, compassion.
And that is very different advice than what you would normally get from a person.
Custom-Made Advice Tailored for You
If I’d confided in a person who then lectured me to be kind or tried giving me pointed mussar (“Well, you’ve got to judge favorably, ya know…and anyway, don’t you feel soooo sooooorry for people who act like that?”), it wouldn’t have been nearly as helpful.
(Anyway, I always feel like answering: "No, I don't feel soooo sooooorry for people like that; I feel soooo sooooorry for their victims, thank you very much!")
Ditto with someone who would only commiserate with my feelings, i.e. “Yeah, I hate those types too.” (Of course, I certainly prefer this to being lectured or melodramatic fake pity, but I still need the loving directive to be kind.)
So there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with either of the above reactions. As a friend, I’m very into commiserating and validating along with giving the occasional heads-up if I think a friend is veering in a bad direction.
My point is the importance of effective and accurate insight.
It’s hard for people (including me) to offer an effective response and accurate insight. That often demands a higher level, which is why real tzaddikim are so good at effective responses and accurate insights.
Also, Hashem gives you messages with love because He truly loves you more than any other human being ever could. So you get messages without any ego interests: no kissing up to you, patronizing you, pretend caring, smirking, snickering, or anything else that tends to muddy the waters of consultative conversations.
Anyway, I was always uncertain about this aspect of turning to Hashem for advice, but I see that it really does work out well.