By Bill Harley
Doing your inner work is heavy lifting. Jean and I have noticed that towards the end of counseling or coaching sessions, our clients often say, “Wow. I’m really tired!” Our reply is always that inner work is the hardest work a person can do. It’s also the hardest work a person can avoid, because not doing it makes life dramatically more difficult for the person and those around him or her.
Inner work is working to improve the quality of what is going on inside you. It is getting more in touch with your true self, which is your soul, spirit or higher nature. It is getting clearer about the messages and impulses coming from inside your being; and learning to differentiate between those that come from your higher nature and those that come from your animal or lower nature. Once you do this, it becomes much easier to turn the volume down on the impulses coming from your lower nature, and turn the volume up on those coming from your higher nature. Once we do this, we free ourselves to better fulfill the purposes of life. If we put these new insights into action, we typically grow intellectually, socially and spiritually.
Why is this work so hard and exhausting? At least one reason is that much of what goes on inside us is tightly held, unexamined, and connected with what we think will keep us safe. It’s like a muscle that has been clenched so long it is locked in place. Other atrophied muscles around the clenched muscle must be activated and strengthened to take over part of the load, which is very hard work. And, when the long-clenched muscle unlocks as a result of the inner work, we become conscious of just how exhausted that muscle is. So, inner work is the hardest work we can do, but doing it releases both our human and our spiritual potential. These ideas are more fully developed in Jean’s and my book, Now That I’m Here, What Should I Be Doing?