Many people already have commendable achievements in the ‘outer work’ aspect of their life. By this, I mean growing in their careers, managing a business, or having meaningful relationships. But ‘outer work’ is a small part of who we are as people.
As a society, we’re largely fixated on outer work. We count the number of followers we have on social media or use the money in our life or the degrees that we have as representative of who we are.
We fail to realize that these elements are merely outer symbols and do not reflect our inner worlds. As a result, we struggle to grow or feel unhappy in our lives.
The key to happiness lies in transforming yourself and your life through inner work. Let’s explore what that is and why it matters.
What is inner work?
Inner work is shaping your emotions, beliefs, and attitudes to create a healthier and happier version of yourself. It’s about adjusting and correct your mindset so that it helps you better facilitate your goals.
Barbara Huson, who wrote Overcoming Underearning to help women gain financial freedom highlights inner work as an important part of getting in good financial shape.
Many people do the outer work to achieve their goals i.e. develop career skills and find jobs. But they often neglect their inner attitudes which also play a major role in personal freedom.
Lacking confidence, procrastinating, refusing to look at one’s finances out of fear are all inner, mental issues that lead to poor financial habits. Barbara Huson suggests that shifting one’s attitude towards financial matters leads to better outcomes. And we can apply this same logic to other matters too.
Inner work matters in work-life too. As a manager, your business performance depends heavily on your employees’ inner life. Their feelings and behaviors will affect how your business runs.
So building your team’s or employees’ inner work life with positive motivation, appreciation, and recognition can improve work performance. Consider this – 79% of people say that “lack of appreciation” is the reason for leaving an otherwise good workplace.
Inner work doesn’t just transform your own life, it transforms other people’s lives too.
How to do inner work
Although many believe that they have little to no control over their feelings, the truth is more complex. Our emotions seem uncontrollable because of how quickly and strongly they appear. This is because they come from our core beliefs which are like fixed beacons in our minds, helping us make sense of life.
By doing inner work and shaping our attitudes and beliefs, we can change our lives. Here are practical ways to do inner work.
Start with a clear goal
When you want to do inner work, you need to first identify your blocks. Since we have a universe of feelings within us, fixing on a specific goal helps us focus on specific changes that we can make. So, start with a clear goal.
Would you like to start a family but simply can’t seem to make a relationship work? Or would you like to improve your finances? Your goal can be to open up your creative side, start a business, or even phase out of your current career to create a completely new change. Once you identify your goal, you can move on to the next steps.
Identify your mental blocks
The common advice for anyone trying to grow and make a change is to think positively and envision the future. However, it can be more helpful to ‘clean’ a messy home before bringing in new additions. This means identifying blocks like negative beliefs or attitudes that make you sabotage opportunities in life.
Have you ever turned down the chance to make a presentation? Maybe you give professional services to people without proper compensation? You may rationalize such decisions because of inadequacy or apprehension. But these behaviors are self-sabotaging and in the long run, can prevent you from achieving your goals.
So, start by asking yourself the following question. Why do you think you can’t achieve the goal you have set for yourself? Use freewriting to let your answers flow and don’t edit or check what you’re writing. You’ll see interesting memories, beliefs, and other details come up.
Create self-awareness and reframe your thoughts
What did you find when you started writing down the reasons you can’t achieve your goals? If you’re struggling financially, you may believe that understanding such matters is only for the super-intelligent. Perhaps you perceive other people as being shallow which is why you find it hard to make friends.
Whatever you uncover, it’s important to be aware of it and challenge these thoughts. Realize that it’s not possible to paint the world with a single color or brushstroke. There are several possibilities available if you start to look for them.
Once you’ve ‘cleaned’ your mental home, you can then reframe your negative beliefs into positive ones. If you suffer from low self-esteem because of things your parents said when you were a child, realize that you’re grown up and can make your own decisions. Create a mantra like ‘I am full of potential and am growing every day’ as a new type of thought pattern.
Work consistently to strengthen your inner work
The ideas given in this post can help transform your inner life and lead to personal empowerment. Remember, that to find happiness and achieve your goals, it takes more than taking courses, working long hours, or getting a promotion. These are external tasks.
Your inner work is even more powerful than the ‘real’ or external efforts that you put in.
So, you need to consistently pay attention to your inner work to turn your desires into a more solid part of your life by replacing negative beliefs with new and empowering ones.
Keep reading books, journaling, going for long walks, and meditating to perform inner work. You’ll see a transformation that’s abiding and strengthening.