I was speaking to someone recently who lamented the fact that no matter how much inner work she does she never seems to be finished. She wasn’t impressed when I told her the inner work would never be finished!! But that´s a good thing, and I´ll tell you why.
If you are doing the inner work, in whatever way you choose, it means that you are stepping up to the plate, you are willing to live a whole life and you´re doing something about it. You have chosen conscious living over walking this earth in a dream state, and yes it is sometimes hard but it is so worth it.
Inner work takes many forms and the level of intensity varies depending on where you are on your particular journey, be it therapy, coaching, journaling, yoga, meditation, shadow work or simple contemplation. Sometimes we need the intense support of a trained professional, other times we can do it on our own and sometimes we choose to share that journey with someone else to go deeper, experience more. But one thing is certain, if you are prepared to do the work you will reap the rewards.
Why do we resist it? And why do we want it to end?
One of the reasons we resist developing a life long habit of self- reflection is because we see it as work, something that we must complete before we can enjoy ourselves. We find ourselves grasping for the ‘weekend’ when we can take a break from it. Instead of seeing it as a task we need to do before we can find pleasure in life view it as developing a deep relationship with yourself, one that you are going to maintain for the rest of your life.
The Buddhists refer to meditation as meditation practice, yogis call their yoga, yoga practice…you see where I’m going with this! Any activity that brings us closer to ourselves is going to be a lifelong practice, our challenge is that we are in a constant state of movement and we need to come back to ourselves again and again. When we begin to think of it as being on a journey of lifelong learning and approach it from a position of curiosity, play and fun it opens up the possibility of finding pleasure and joy in our self-discovery.
It´s essential for mental and emotional health
Self-reflection is part of your interior maintenance program. Just as you need to eat well and exercise regularly to maintain your physical health, you need to have a consistent self-reflection practice if you want other areas of your life to flow. You won’t get a 6-pack from one sit up and if you do put in the work and tone your body you won’t keep it unless you maintain some sort of exercise program- it’s no different for your mind. If you want to see the results you have to commit to making introspection part of your routine. Sure, you can have a perfectly satisfactory life without either an exercise routine or a self-reflection practice but do you want a satisfactory life or do you want a full, rich life?
Reflection leads to awareness and awareness is the key to success, whatever your definition of success is. The more awareness you have, the better choices you can make, it´s as simple as that. Your ability to engage in self-discovery, self-reflection and introspection will open up a world of possibilities that would otherwise be unavailable to you. Who doesn´t want that?
You're not broken
I think this is one of the main reasons we are eager to see an end to the introspection; the belief on some level that we are not okay, there is something wrong with us and if we could just fix it, it would make everything alright. It´s time to get away from that way of thinking, from believing we are not enough- not smart enough, thin enough or rich enough. We are sold the lie that we need to improve, have more, do more. Many of the books and resources that can help us deepen our relationship with ourselves are labelled self-help or self-improvement perpetuating the falsehood and keeping us small.
Life can be tough, it’s challenging. The human experience knocks us around and sometimes we get hurt and we need healing- it does not mean we are damaged and in need of fixing. If you meet someone who has never needed healing at some point of their lives they are probably either 4 or haven’t done any self-reflection whatsoever, and even a 4-year-old needs to come to terms with the fact that Johnny has the blue crayon and he isn’t parting with it.
You are enough, right now, as you are. And you can also be more. It´s time to replace the idea that you are broken with the idea that you are growing, and that growth is a lifelong commitment. You wouldn´t stop watering a flower when it blooms, don´t do it to yourself.
What are your favourite ways to do the inner work? Share in the comments.
Looking for some ideas to get you started or to go deeper? Check out my post on Self-Coaching - 10 books to get you moving forward!