02 October 2011
TAKE A DETOUR: TURN INWARDS
Recently, the way that I handle life's challenges has changed. I can definitely look back over this year and see that something has shifted. In the past when I encountered tough times, I would look to the external world to help me tackle them. I believed that was where the elusive solution lay. I was obsessively attached to results and outcomes. It was all about getting the end result I wanted. The only way I knew how to solve my problems was to try and control other people, manipulate events to go my way, and fix all the things that I believed were wrong.
I was not at all in touch with my emotions and had no control over the thoughts that ran through my mind. As a result, I used external substances and experiences to numb and stuff down whatever I did not want to feel or or think about.
I often felt powerless and at effect in life. Things happened. I reacted. I did not have any additional coping strategies than this.
I believe most people today live this way. It is all we know. It is what we have been taught. Our focus remains purely fixed on the outer world and what we can do to change it. We have no idea that there is a another way. A better way. Sometimes you have to reach breaking point, and be hit down to your knees before you are willing give up your way, and ask for help.
After years of using this outdated method and feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall, I finally surrendered. No matter how much I tried, worked , and struggled, I could not get the results I wanted. I began to realise how futile my attempts to change the outer world were. I instead decided to change the only thing that I had the power to - my inner world.
This process involved taking a detour. It required me to get off the well-worn track and turn down to a new path. A path inwards. This is where all true power lies, and it is where the solution to every problem can be found.
Sometimes life just keeps hitting you on the head until you wake up. This wake up call is a blessing. A blessing in disguise. It is a call that allows to discover the truth about life, and the truth about happiness.
This call causes you to crack open. To open yourself up to a new way of being and living in the world. Life no longer has to be about getting, grasping, fighting and competing. It does not have to be about making your external world perfect. You can still have all the things you want in your life, but you can learn how to create it from the inside-out, and with much more peace, effortlessness and flow.
We all want things to go our way. But life is not about that. So much happiness and joy can come being willing to accept whatever happens, and know that you will be ok, even if it all falls apart.
Change Starts Inside You
Changing the outer world starts with changing your inner world. If you can shift what is happening inside of you, then you will find the outer world with naturally begin to shift too. The solution to your problem begins with how you are thinking and feeling. By coming to a place of peace and acceptance you will allow everything to begin to flow. As you relax and open, you begin to allow solutions to come to you. When you are stressed, anxious and focusing on the problem, no solution can come.
I began to focus less on attempting to change the outer world, and more on changing me. Changing who I was. Changing how I was responding. Changing the stories I was telling. Changing the meaning I was making.
I was no longer concerned about whether or not I was having an effect on the world around me. Even though, nothing outside of me had changed, I still somehow began to feel so much better.
I realised that I could not change what was happening, but I could change how I responded to it. I could change my thoughts from being fearful, negative and critical to being loving, positive and accepting. I could change my feelings from being tense, uptight and controlling to at ease, soft, and flexible. I could change my emotions from anxious and worried to be calm and peaceful.
The point is, that it is not actually about the results. It is not about making the world look perfect. It is about changing the way you respond. It is about feeling better.
How to Turn Inward
It all starts with a willingness.
There must be a willingness to relinquish control, to be humble, to surrender. You must be willing to not know. This journey is not about having it all planed out. It is about showing up each day, and doing the best you can. There must also be a willingness to listen. Not many people listen these days. We talk a lot. We make a lot of useless noise. But not many of us really listen.
Your inner guidance will speak to you, if you are willing to listen. You will be guided to the exact book you need to read, the class you need to take or the person you need to meet. The solution to your problem will unfold effortlessly without stress or struggle.
Then you must ask. Ask for help. Recognise that there is an energy in this Universe that is here to help you. Be humble, and allow a power greater than you to step in and support you.
Many people do not ever reach this point until they have to. But I did. I had to make a change. I had no choice.
Tools for Turning Inward
Sometimes I forget to do the inner work. I will once again become seduced by the drama of the outer world. I will fuss and fight and attempt to regain control. And every time I do, I come crashing down. Things stop working. I feel off. There is no flow. There seems to be more problems than solutions.
The key is to start to use inner practices to support you before you reach breaking point. Start to integrate these practices in to your daily life. Make it how you live. Make it what you do.
I now have a tool box of inner coping strategies that I draw on. And I want to share them with you here.
1. Feel Your Emotions
Your emotions need to be acknowledged. Even the crappy ones. They need to be listened to. They need to be felt. They need to be released.
Suppressing or avoiding your emotions will not work. They will still be there inside you, just waiting for another opportunity to be expressed. Emotion is energy in motion. It needs to move through you and move out of you. It is exhausting to try to hold an emotion down inside of you. When you are stuck in a place of funky emotion, you must find a method to express it. It may involve talking to a friend, going for a walk, having a cry, doing some yoga, going to the gym. Anything that allows the emotion to move. It can not sit still.
Your emotion communicates to you. It is a messenger. Sometimes you may not even realise that you have been worrying about something, until you suddenly burst in to tears for no reason. Or maybe you have been thinking negative thoughts about a person, and then you get a crazy burst of anger and snap at them for no reason. Your emotions are an indicator of what is going on inside of you. Pay attention.
2. Quiet Your Mind
Stressful thoughts will make you feel stressed. Fearful thoughts will make you feel anxious. Fast-paced, monkey mind thoughts will make you feel overwhelmed. The easiest way to feel better, when you feel crap, is to slow down your thoughts and quieten your mind.
Through my most challenging times, meditation has been my lifesaver. Literally. I have experiences some days where I feel so overwhelmed, anxious or just plain crap, that literally nothing can fix it. On these days, all I can do is come home, sit on my yoga mat, light a candle and meditate. Nothing soothes me like meditation does.
Meditation does not have to follow any set guideline or process. It is very individual. It may be as simple as sitting still in quietness. That may be enough. You may also want to focus on your breathe or listen to calming music. Whatever makes you feel better, is perfect.
3. Let Go
Take a deep breath, and let go of whatever it is that you have been holding on to. Let go of control. Let go of resentments. Let go of fears. Let go of disempowering stories.
Give up your attachments. Stop needing to control everything. Come back to the moment and enjoy the process. Let go of the outcome.
Surrender is extremely relaxing. It is where you give up trying. You do not need to try so hard! And you do not need to work so hard. When you are in a negative space, and you try hard to make it better, you very often make it worse. It is very different to just let it go. Let go of the problem and come back to it later. Let go of the drama and let everything settle.
4. Listen for Guidance
Do not underestimate the power of your intuition. The more that you believe and have faith in it, the more you will hear it. It is a practice. It grows stronger the more you use it. It requires you to give up doing things your way, and entertain the idea that some higher part of you might just know better.Your intuition can help you solve problems. It can lead you to solutions that you may not have ever thought of.
Intuition speaks to you through inner nudges, feelings, sudden insights, coincidences and synchronicity. It may even come as a voice. It may leaves little signs and clues for you and helps you be in the right place at the right time. It connects you with the people you need to met. Whatever form it shows up in your life, does not matter. Either way, it will lead you to what you need. It will not predict your future and reveal any grand plan. It simply leads you moment to moment, step by step to a better place.
5. Be Willing to Not Know
You can not predict the future. You cannot control outcomes. You can not make other people be what you want them to be. You cannot always make things go your way. So, sometimes you have to be willing to not know. You may not always know if things will work out.
So, all you can do each day is just show up. Show up and do the best that you can. And be willing to detach from what will happen in the outer world. Just worry about your internal experience. Just make sure you head and your heart are in the right place. Just work to feel good on the inside, and then everything will start to improve on the outside.