I was recently asked to sum up the core essence of my work. My immediate response?
Find support, nourishment and guidance from within. Learn to orient from the inside rather than the outside. Pay attention to what’s happening inside. When something’s amiss in our life, the first place we have to look is within. We have to begin with a stable internal foundation. We can’t look to the outside world to validate and prop up the self. If we set our expectations and measuring stick on external markers, we’re basing our sense of self on that which is outside – the job, the spouse, the kids, etc. If something falls through or becomes shaky on the outside, it shakes our sense of self. Building identity based on the external is building on shaky ground.
When we’ve got an issue or tricky circumstance, we have to move it from the external to the internal. We have to shift away from trying to fix things from the outside, because it never works. It can’t be about the other people or situation “My parents! My spouse! My Kids! My boss! My job! This house! This Neighborhood! This country!” You have to look at you. Bring it from outside to the inside and start working it there. It’s the only place we really have any control. I always say that the solutions to our problems, big a small, can be found within. And I believe it. Every situation, dynamic, relationship can teach us about ourselves if we’re willing to go inside and do our inner work.
Our behavior, everyone’s behavior – our actions and reactions – are always about what’s going on inside. It’s an indicator of internal conditions. So we have to take all that energy we’re focusing on the external world and refocus it within and begin asking ourselves important questions like:
- Did I honor myself today?
- Did I come from a place of authenticity today?
- Did I pay attention to and honor my feelings today?
- Did I listen to and honor my intuition today?
- Did I focus on my heart, soul, and body as well as my mind, my intellect, today?
- Did I respectfully speak up for myself today?
- Did I take care of myself today?
Start identifying where you’re letting yourself down, where you’re dishonoring yourself, denying yourself or suppressing your true thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Start identifying your own self-destructive loops. We all have them. It’s about waking up and becoming more and more conscious of how we’re moving through the world, how we’re treating ourselves and interacting with others. It takes setting boundaries where and when we need to so that we can keep coming back to the deeper self, the soul. (Ego is important for navigating in the world, but we can’t live from there. We have to live from soul.)
We have to address our inner well-being and happiness. This is not selfish, in fact, it is wise. This is a central focus. Without a place to rest, to drop into stillness and being, to feel held, supported and nourished, we not only become exhausted and resentful, none of the external achievements even matter!
When we’re racing from one goal, one achievement, one situation to the next without time to pause, savor, or enjoy – our successes, our relationships, our precious lives – we never really feel like we “arrive.” It’s like an aching inner hunger we’re trying to feed from the outside and it’s never enough. It’s the insatiable hungry ghost keeping us restless and discontent until we slow down, become still, become present and steady ourselves from within.
We have to keep coming back to Self. We have to cultivate a relationship with our own souls – our deep inner self. That’s the only answer. That’s the only remedy. If you don’t feel good on the inside, then none of it matters, none of the accomplishments, none of the successes. When we slow down and focus within we start redefining success from the inside out. We start detaching from the pull to try to get our needs met from the outside. We start figuring out how to meet them from the inside. And it’s usually simpler and more accessible than we imagine.
It takes discipline to slow down and disengage from the noisy, demanding external world. It takes intention and focus to stay connected to your own truth. But the beauty of it is, when you listen to the internal voice, you stop doing what doesn’t work for you and you instead do what feeds you, what nourishes you, and what’s in alignment for you. We must each make time to quiet the din of culture and go within, connect with our inner voice, our inner wisdom and uncover the authentic, wise soul inside. When we do, we not only become more balanced and at peace, we have more to contribute and offer up to the world. When we become more stable on the inside, we become more patient, more loving, and more effective on the outside.