Have you ever noticed how we’ll sometimes do anything, no matter how absurd or self-destructive, to avoid doing our inner work? Almost as if a part of ourselves is longing to wake up, heal and be free … while another part actively tries to protect us from feeling any pain or discomfort – no matter the cost. Some people describe this as the tension between soul and personality. Turning inward actually terrifies most people. When we truly start to take responsibility for who we are, regardless of what has happened to us, we are bound to come face to face with unpleasant feelings. Icky feelings. Old hurts, stored pain, memories we’d rather forget. Self-judgment. All that stuff in there, literally stuffed away into the shadows.
It’s so much easier to either point our fingers at something outside ourselves (“those people,” “the system/situation/circumstances”) or to stay willfully focused on “only pleasant things,” than to look into our interior lives for relief from our suffering and to clean up what we’ve internalized and taken on from our lives. Sometimes, we even prefer stubborn ignorance than admit we were in denial, disconnected, disengaged, defensive, unaware, hurt, or in fact actually able to do something about our “stuff”.
But, if we don’t turn inward and develop the strength and courage to face and heal what hurts within, we remain victims of our histories, our circumstances, our fears, and our unawareness. When your personality is wounded, small and fragile, you’re driven by fears and need a tough exterior to protect yourself. But, when we start doing our inner work, we turn our attention inwards.
What is Inner Work, Anyway?
Inner work brings to light, compassion, and awareness of the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious realms of your being. It’s about diving inward: speaking to yourself, being in connection and dialogue with yourself, seeing yourself, knowing yourself, and loving yourself. Inner work can be gut-wrenching, bone-crushing, heart-breaking work born from tears, sweat, sleeping, and surrendering. It’s inner child work. It’s shadow work. It involves finding all that has been hidden: feelings, beliefs, hurts, wounds, shadows, memories, and fragments.
Why Would I Go Through All That?
As you take these risks, as you bring more things to your awareness, reclaim more parts, feel more feelings, make more internal connections, and soften towards yourself more, you build your psychological and intuition muscles. Your soul strengthens. You’re driven by courage and live with integrity. You become able to feel yourself, feel your life, feel the impact things have on you. No matter how crappy something feels, you remember that a phoenix rises from the flames. You stay the course. That’s what it means to have courage: to feel the things you don’t want to feel.
Inner work means taking full responsibility for yourself, by:
- acknowledging what you have emerged out of, without taking what has happened to you in life so personally anymore
- seeing everything that happens to you as the ground from which you are meant to grow (think: compost > roots > shoots > fruits)
- harvesting the nutrients and acknowledging the strengths and capacities that your particular circumstances gifted you with, and reclaiming all fragmented and lost parts.
Rewards of Inner Work
As we quest into the rich, dark realms of our inner work, we discover that we can be alchemists in our lives through emotional strength training.
Turn pain into power…Dissolve shame through storytelling. Turn anger into focused, protective energy. Soften sadness into surrender and flow. Melt conflicts into connection, and judgments into compassion.
Nothing is more rewarding, exciting, and enlivening than being an active co-creator of your life, deliberately and intentionally freeing yourself from your conditioning, gaining mastery over your biology, and expanding your being into all that you can be … in this physical body … in this lifetime.