The Inner Shift
”Nothing has changed really, but everything has changedbecause I have changed.”
A coaching client came to me wanting to change most things; work, relationships, living situation, health, hobbies… she had an inner ache. And she had used the above quote at our last meeting, after having already worked together for a few months.
She no longer felt such a big need to change her work life, relationships, living situation, health or hobbies because she’d connected with other personal aspects, and they had changed everything.
She felt more grateful for what she had. She had an easier time accepting what she couldn’t change. She had a kinder inner dialogue when life was tough. She had greater faith in that there’s a meaning to what’s happening, and she had reconnected with joy. That ache was gone.
This journey is not unusual. We’re in pain, and we are aching and automatically think it’s something on the outside that needs to change. But when we start peeling the onion, we realize that there’s something on the inside that’s causing this anguish, this ache, and that we need to start from there.
These five qualities are what I see as a common thread with everyone who’s sometimes aching (read: all humans).
The opposite to acceptance is resistance. Whether we are fighting reality or accepting it, it is what it is. When we can close the gap between our expectations of what reality “should” look like and what it actually is, right now, everything gets easier. And when we’re living in reality, we can see all possible options moving forward.
Most of us have a very strong inner critic. It’s a character that’s been created while growing up and throughout our lives based on everything that is “wrong” with us. But we need to remember that this is a character that only we have created; infants don’t have inner critics. We can create a kinder voice if we want to. Cultivating self-compassion through an inner best friend makes life so much easier, no matter what we go through.
I’ve written about faith here before because it’s so important. It’s not about trusting that everything will work out the way we want it to. It’s about trusting that things work out, that we can do hard things and that there’s a meaning to what’s happening in our lives.
We all have a strong negativity bias, which is a good thing because it helps us survive by being very aware of possible danger. But we’re not usually in danger everyday anymore and so we need to balance this out with our “gratitude muscle”. It helps us shift focus from what is lacking, problems, and danger to everything that is actually working, which is always so much more.
When did we learn that everything needs to be so serious all the time? How can we invite play and laughter and silliness, and relax again? Sure, some things are serious, but not many. Finding pleasure and joy isn’t only good for our health, it’s also a huge improvement to our overall well-being.
What comes up in you as you read about these five qualities? Which ones feel close and easy and which ones feel further away?
If you feel an ache somewhere in your life, try starting with looking at these five qualities before turning your life upside down on the outside. Maybe you’ll find your way back “home” even without the change. Maybe not. But either way, all lasting change starts from within.
This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own