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.
And, I understand why.
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.
Old hurts, stored pain, memories we’d rather forget.
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 to die in 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 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.
You develop a shell like a tortoise to hide in.
Spikes like a sea urchin.
Camouflage like a chameleon.
Venom like a snake.
Your life becomes organized around staying safe, inhibited and isolated – because comfort, safety and feeling-good is your north star, and you need particular conditions in order to feel OK!
But, when we start doing our inner work, we turn our attention inwards.
Once we take this foundational step of turning our attention inwards, we start to wake up.
We start to transform.
Instead of just understanding the mechanics of how things work, we begin to live from the life force that animates everything – including ourselves.
Instead of battling the enemies “out there,” we face and disarm the enemies and threats looming within us, “in here.”
What is Inner Work, Anyway?
Inner work brings light, compassion and awareness to 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, loving yourself.
Inner work can be gut-wrenching, bone-crushing, heart-breaking work born from tears, sweat, vomit, sleeping and surrendering.
It’s about allowing yourself to be called out, judged, burned up, exiled, and then built back up again – over and over. It’s an endless cycle of death and rebirth; and endless dance between the interior and the exterior, the violent and the nonviolent, your fears and your desires, your personality and your soul.
It involves searching out the parts of yourself have been exiled, forgotten, judged or dismissed – by you – and welcoming them back in, so that you can be whole, integrated, strong, aware and free.
It’s inner child work.
It’s shadow work.
It’s sacred, witnessing work.
It involves finding all that has been hidden: feelings, beliefs, prejudices, hurts, wounds, shadows, memories and fragments.
And, I’m truly sorry about this, but it’s also about being willing to feel and process the pain, hurt, shame, fear, rage and sadness that you will often find as you begin journeying down the rabbit holes of your interiority.
Sounds truly. dreadful. Why on Earth 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, soften towards yourself more, you build your psychological and psychic 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 into the things you don’t want to feel.
To tolerate discomfort.
To challenge your own beliefs.
To examine your attachments.
To do unfamiliar and uncomfortable things.
To reach beyond the whims of desires of your fearful, limited, finite self:
You can stay out in the sun for longer, without getting burned.
You can trek through the snow further, without freezing.
You can scuba dive, without drowning.
Your life orients around expanding, evolving, playing and connecting – even though it hurts sometimes.
You start reaching for what you want, instead of just avoiding what you don’t want.
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.
And the 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.
Join me in the sacred practice of 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
And for me, nothing is more rewarding, exciting and enlivening than being an active co-creator of your life, of deliberately and intentionally freeing myself from my conditioning, gaining mastery over my biology and expanding my spiritual being into all that she can be … in this physical body … in this lifetime.
What about you?