Three Kinds of Inner Work

by | Dec 16, 2019 | Personal Growth

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At dinner recently, a friend told me about how she’s spent the last 10 years of her life trying to close the gap between the external structures of her life, and the whispering promptings emerging from her inner life.

“Even though that voice inside me has always been there,” she said, “My fears and self-doubt prevented me from following my wisdom. I dismissed that inner knowing as unrealistic and crazy because it just didn’t fit with the external life I had created and would seriously mess some things up, but ultimately the inner pressures to live in congruence with myself got so loud that I just couldn’t ignore that voice anymore. I’ve never looked back.”

Perhaps you can relate? I know I can.

As I reflect on my own inner journey and the work that I do each week with myself, my students and my clients, I find three distinct kinds of inner work that I’m continually being called to engage in – each of them with a slightly different purpose, time zone and focus.


Hope work involves our vision for the future, and how we harness our life energy to serve we’re trying to create in the world.
It’s an invitation to expand our imagination and reach for new possibilities.
We imagine a world that works better than the one we currently have.
We look at the status quo, imagine something more wonderful, more inspired, more life-affirming – and begin building it.
We connect with our deep vision of what is possible.
We see the most life-affirming potential in ourselves, in others, in the situations of our lives and we work to close the gap between the current state and a better state.


Healing work involves making peace with our past. We are all wounded in some way or another.
We all adapted to imperfect childhoods with imperfect parents and adopted imperfect ways of coping.
We all carry some degree of trauma, heartbreak, grief and fear.
When we engage in our healing work, we courageously look into all the dark, scared, hurt places within.
We get back into our bodies, back into connection with ourselves.
We re-parent our inner children, we tend to old wounds, we examine our attachments, we detach our identities from our defenses.


Heart work involves opening our hearts and connecting deeply with ourselves and others in the present moment.
It’s the willingness to make peace with ourselves and others, in this moment.
We practice vulnerability with other people, instead of knee-jerk self-protectiveness and defensiveness.
We let down our guards.
We take risks with other people and make ourselves available for new relational experiences.
We practice dialogue, partnership, collaboration and co-creation.
We engage with others from shared power, equality and mutuality.
We meet people where they are and love them as they are, now.
We stop trying to mold others into the image of who we wish they were or who we think they “should be” especially when it’s “for their own good.”
We approach our relationships from a place of reverence, dignity and respect for the individual

Our vision for how things could be, gives us the courage to try new things in the present, and as we move in new ways in our lives, lingering unresolved wounds and defensive patterns come to surface to be healed, integrated and released.

Like the times when we imagine a more peaceful and connected relationship with someone (beautiful hope work) and so we prepare ourselves to approach this person with kindness, curiosity and new skills, trying to care about both of us equally (courageous heart work), but then as we engage with this person, we find ourselves triggered and stimulated into a charged space where we lose access to our grounded, wise, adult selves and behaving like a teenager again! So, we welcome our remaining healing work, the profound invitation to feel into old hurts, to get conscious of unconscious patterns, to see into ourselves and other humans with more compassion, forgiveness and grace.

Whatever journey you are on – internal or external – be gentle and kind with yourself and others. Surround yourself with guides you trust and like, and with a community of fellow travelers and seekers. We need one another if we are to become what we are meant to be.

I’d love to hear from you: What deep vision are you serving with your own life and personal growth? What inspires you to be on this path?

Let me know – leave a comment below.


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