Do The Work
Inner work? You say. So what is that, exactly?
I’m glad you asked. Inner work means focusing on your spiritual and emotional self—your thoughts, feelings, intuition—the energy that fuels your whole human being.
Think of yourself like a piece of technology: your body is the hardware and your energy is the software. Doing the outer work is taking care of your body by paying attention to your eating and exercise; inner work is taking time to strengthen your inner being—the software that feeds your inspiration and energy to create new thoughts and ideas.
Just like technology, if software is out-of-date and running old programs, the device won’t work properly and may produce jumbled data—or in a worst case scenario, crash the entire system. Similarly, repeating old beliefs, mulling over unresolved issues, or harboring negative thoughts affects our mental and physical health… and we get sick.
When I chose to start making significant changes in my life 20 years ago, I recall the major shifts that took place on the outside: relocating to the Pacific, re-creating myself in a completely different environment, and finding a new family of friends. I also remember the major changes taking place on the inside: experiencing new levels of awareness, learning lessons, and releasing the pain that came with processing old issues and memories. I often felt like giving up, but remembered being told to, “Do the work.” I realized later that that advice applied to doing my inner work as much as the outer work. Everything’s connected—and lasting change comes from the inside out.
Doing your inner work is just as important as your outer work.
Need a boost? Here are some tips for starting your inner work:
Pay attention to people. Become aware of those people who build you up vs. bring you down. Mom was right—you are the company you keep. Choose carefully with whom you spend more of your time and see how it feels.
Notice your thoughts. Take note of any repeating thoughts that are negative or critical. Practice reframing by replacing them with uplifting or positive thoughts. You always have the choice which thoughts you focus on.
Refill your spiritual tank. Reconnect with people, music, movies, places, and other activities that bring happiness and that ‘full-fill’ you. The body needs food for fuel; the spirit needs positive energy!
Listen within. If your body is telling you your eating or exercise are out of balance, make changes—just avoid changing several things at once. Try changing one thing at a time, course-correct (if necessary), let it stick, and then change something else when you’re comfortable with the new change.
Take breaks throughout the day. Take a refreshing walk, eat a healthy snack, find a friendly conversation, or take a music break. Give your brain a break once in a while and your productivity will increase!
Do something fun for yourself. Plan a movie night; go out for dinner; buy tickets for a concert or play—get out of the house (and out of your mind) and enjoy something fun and different on a regular basis.
Doing the work can sometimes be tough, but change gets easier the more you embrace it. May this year bring you a new awareness of the power of supporting and nurturing your inner being, and help you to jump-start healthy habits and move towards better balance. You’ve got this!
To Our Better Balance,
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg