How many times have you heard ‘inner work’ bantered around by personal development and spiritual teachers?
It’s touted to be the holy grail when it comes to overcoming trauma, achieving your goals and reaching your full potential.
The frustrating part is that ‘a clear definition’ and ‘how to apply it’ is rarely discussed in detail.
I spent almost two decades exploring the teachings of spiritual masters, human potential experts, renowned psychologists and law of attraction gurus and the phrase inner work cropped up time and time again. However, I failed to fully fathom what the term really meant or how to apply the concept at a practical level.
Don’t get me wrong; during this time I discovered a lot of brilliant teachers and acquired loads of invaluable information. But I spent over ten years spinning my wheels because I didn’t know how to put their wisdom into practice.
Now that I’ve mastered inner work, it has become my way of life. It’s the source of my newfound self-sovereignty and contentment. I no longer feel that I am at the mercy of what life throws at me (even throughout the pandemic), and I’ve begun to trust in the way my life is unfolding. It finally feels good to be alive.
Because this life changing practice eluded me for so long — and I know the work definitely pays off — I want to share tangible activities so you can easily begin doing inner work and immediately gain from its benefits.
So, what exactly is inner work?
Like many, I learnt the hard way that a new job, relationship, environment or diet provides temporary satisfaction. But eventually, the unwanted scenarios, painful emotions and self-sabotaging habits that we try to avoid resurface, no matter how hard we try.
The turning point for me occurred when I recognised that I was the common denominator. If I was to ever overcome my fear of not having enough money to pay my bills, rejection in relationships, and failure at pretty much everything, ‘I’ needed to change.
As the term suggests, inner work centres around changing one’s self, rather than your external circumstances. I define ‘inner work’ as the mastery over your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions for the purpose of creating a more harmonious and joyous life.
This work involves making internal changes so you are no longer triggered by others or particular situations, nor plagued by negative thoughts and past hurts. It also requires taking actions that are in alignment with who you are at your very core, regardless of the circumstance.
Mastering inner work taught me that who we are on the inside – the thoughts we think day in and day out, how we feel moment to moment, what we believe to be true about life, along with our habits and conscious choices – mirrors what shows up in our outer world.
Life is an inside job. Changing your experience of life needs to come from within. I learnt first hand that long-lasting positive change only occurs by doing inner work.
This is why unfortunately there’s a high rate of lottery winners that end up broke within a couple of years or when people lose a lot of weight but soon pile it back on. It’s because the inner work hasn’t been done to support their new circumstance.
How to do inner work
Taking command of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions involves:
- quietening the mind
- unleashing your imagination
- managing your emotions
- releasing your emotional baggage
- creating a new narrative for your life
- reprogramming your subconscious beliefs to match your conscious intentions
- taking consistent and aligned actions with who you truly are
In the following weeks I will prescribe various practices and modalities to help you master the aforementioned skills. First we’ll focus on effective methods for quietening your mind.
How inner work transforms your life
Mastering inner work was a real turning point for me. That’s when my life started to change dramatically, and quickly, in my early forties. So, what happened?
Something within me shifted at a very deep level and it had nothing to do with my external environment. Almost overnight, my fears, doubts and negative self-talk dissipated and I began to see beauty everywhere.
When my ‘inner shift’ happened, it was as if I’d finally woken up on the right side of the bed, or I’d had an attitude adjustment, or a complete change in perception. The inner noise, friction and unease was gone. Instead, I experienced stillness, spaciousness and contentment. For the first time I was able to be, and remain, fully present in the moment.
It was glorious.
Instead of repeating the same old patterns over and over again, and swinging between anxiety and depression, my day-to-day life had become richer, more colourful and joyous. And because I’d changed, I found that people treated me differently. They were kinder, more respectful, and openly acknowledged their appreciation for me and my efforts.
I also experienced improvements and breakthroughs in the areas of my life which I’d found the most challenging. HOORAY. There was less resistance when it came to attaining my goals and deepest desires. Doors that were previously closed, or didn’t exist at all, began to open up.
Old habits and self-destructive behaviours – such as consuming a family size block of chocolate in one sitting, rather than a couple of squares or a row – that I’d tried to curb for years, slipped away. I no longer avoided circumstances that I had previously considered confrontational or made me feel uncomfortable. Nor did I need to make up excuses in order get out of a particular situation or keep various aspects of my life hidden.
Gone was the need to prove myself, be defensive, control the outcome, take on other peoples responsibilities, or please others. It is very freeing.
The added bonus? I was also more observant and less engaged in the dynamics occurring around me. I was able to discern how I was feeling moment to moment and act accordingly.
On the odd occasion that something triggered me — typically, being accused of doing something wrong would have rattled me for days — or pushed my buttons, instead of reacting automatically and unconsciously, I now had the awareness and skills to catch myself and respond in new ways.
My decisions, actions and the way I lived my life were no longer influenced, limited or paralysed by my deepest fears, such as; accumulating further debt, having my heart broken again, failing to achieve my goals, disappointing others, not being good enough, or being seen as a failure.
Of course, my life still has its challenges, I’m human after all, and there are issues I continue to wrestle with, but my life now has direction and meaning. I also possess the tools, skills and self-confidence to deal with anything that crosses my path.
By completing the inner work, you will too!