More than a few times I’ve shared my affinity for self-help books. They adorn every corner of the house and have guided me through a journey within that has grown me in countless ways. I’m able to truly revert my gaze inward when having any sort of emotional dilemma. It might take me a minute, but I now get there each time without fail. Before, I’d have admonished whoever was crossing my path, or the world at large, rather than ascribe blame to self. It’s a trip that’s far from over, but this ability to separate my soul from my ego enough to be introspective and detached (which didn’t come painlessly) is a gift I’d never part with. Responsibility delivers power.
We spend a lot of time trying to change those around us, but the only metamorphosis we can exact is our own.
This inner focus might seem self-absorbed, but I’d like to posit that every Earthly problem would be moot if we could each take a long hard look at ourselves instead of everyone and everything around us. If it’s not self- serving, internally progressive, there’s not really any service happening at all. The advancement of humanity happens with one soul at a time and right now, yours is all you’ve got.
Identify your deep down fears and how you camouflage them. Did you sign up for a marriage that is drama laden, that helps you avoid you? Are you fighting other people’s battles so you can avoid fighting the battle teeming within you? Are you surrounding yourself with friends who can’t get their shit together so you can invest in them instead of you? Did you make babies so you could take care of anyone but you? Are you pouring yourself into your career to keep from exploring the inner workings of you? There are noble causes galore to hurl ourselves into, but are these also functioning as distractions from the fundamental and often painful business that needs to happen inside?
We arrive here, circumnavigate specific childhoods, catered to the growth of our soul’s desires, and then do everything in our power to bury our wounds instead of mend them. Today, it’s easier than ever. There are a steadily growing number of distractions. Soul work usually doesn’t come about unless we’re maneuvering through unexpected tragedy, like death, divorce, or mental illness, when it’s forced upon us because we literally can’t function or fake it anymore. But, it doesn’t have to be birthed from that. It’s not intended to be… this is just a construct of our busy- worshipping world. Put a band-aid on and get moving.
So, how do you begin this inner journey of accountability and questioning?
You make time to go within.
You look at everything and everyone important in your life and ask yourself what the hell the point is. I don't mean that to sound callous or trivial, but everything is serving some underlying need within, whether positive or negative. You delve into each aspect of your day that you devote time to and say why. What’s in it for you? What are you learning that your soul needs… or what are you avoiding? You could be doing some really beautiful stuff that is functioning as total avoidance of your soul work. You strip yourself of all that you think (or everyone else thinks) is good or special about you and you look at the raw person in the mirror and find the pain. Every time you feel something unpleasant, you ask yourself what about you is creating that. Every time you invite someone or something into your life, you ask what little girl you is looking for in this? If you feel angry, you ask yourself what about you is breeding that. Each time you feel compelled to throw yourself into something, you ask what internal inadequacy that is feeding or distracting from. When you say/think something negative or judgmental about someone or something, you ask yourself what you don’t love about you that is building animosity or resentment towards another. What quality do they possess that you aren't owning or wish you were? You break it down and then you rebuild it.
Observe, analyze, and seek understanding. This doesn’t have to lead to a systemic failure or overhaul. The goal is detachment from the self, from ego, to see yourself through an unfiltered lens. It should ultimately feel casual after some practice and be without a hint of self-judgment. You aren’t berating yourself, you’re knowing yourself and gently dismissing the parts of you that aren’t soul-serving. I’ve been self-helping for a decade now and just this year have begun banishing self-judgment and shame over my ego-driven feelings. I can now identify the driving force of non-progressive choices or words and have an internal laugh over their ineffectiveness. My mantra has become “oh well, I’ll try to do better next time,” because my current best is all I’ve got, and in spite of my efforts, often times my ego wins out.
Do the world the ultimate favor and self-help yourself. Fulfillment lies on the other side of fear.