Exploring Our Inner Worlds


The old adage which stresses the importance of knowing oneself is a wise and, I suspect, not fully understood idea that could help many of us. The primary tools that work to catalyze our growth are in fact other people. Our inter-relational dynamics all enhance, entice and expand our personal awareness and growth by activating the very issues we carry and whose resolution has not yet been found. We hear and talk a lot about being self-aware, of knowing who we are, however there is a dual side to who we think we are. Dualities are fascinating as they can force an issue or “push our buttons” into the light.

Most things that remain unhealed within us are often there because the whole story has not yet come to light. There are many aspects or layers to our issues, and through our inner work we dig down through the layers gathering more bits and pieces of data, all the while struggling to bring some sort of resolution to the topic so we may move on to the next one. We may be somewhat misguided in the belief that at some point in time we will be issue-free, wise in our resolution-filled life, and free of any lingering side effects of the buttons we have so carefully removed.

Internal Work

Most personal growth and therapeutic work is intended to open us up to experiencing our inner world. Our thoughts, internal dialogues, beliefs, feelings and patterns are looked at, examined, and perhaps we gain greater awareness as to the origins of our experiences. The interdependency and interconnectedness of our inner world will become clear once we have shed the belief that each issue is a singular stand-alone experience that can heal in isolation. People are often amazed and bewildered when in the course of their journey they discover that here they are talking about their parents once again. (They believed that everything related to their growing up issues had long ago been let go of.)

When we metaphorically dig through the layers of our mind, things at each layer are loosened up to become available to heal. Much like digging in the garden, as we move down through the soil of our psyche we come across various things – from stones and rocks to plant roots from nearby trees – which are either moved to the side as we keep going or we slow down and examine what is being brought into the light.

Our inner world is much the same as the garden: there are times we stop and take a close look at what is being revealed through the various layers, and other times we barrel straight through the layers, pushing to the side anything that does not match what we are hoping to discover.  Hence the freedom to move through any layer and discard what we don’t want to see perpetuates the cycle of ‘just when we think we have finally resolved and let go of certain issues, we discover that we are right back in there, finding more clues which bring to light an even deeper experience than what we had thought we had.’

We all have ideas about what our inner world is. Many believe we know what the issues are, we just need to take the time to work them through, when we are ready. Surprise!  Anyone who has honestly approached their issues, has likely discovered that what seemed so certain would become merely a safety cloak covering the real deal.

External Effects

Our inner world manifests itself in our daily life, no matter how hard we may try to hide it. Our demeanour, actions, moods and choices are informed by our inner workings. The person who may feel unworthy or undeserving of love and intimacy may exhibit an attitude of arrogance. The distrust of others may show itself as standoffish or secretive behaviour. We may be short tempered or angry when the rumblings of fear are not identified as influencing our perspective on the world.

While we may have some awareness that others are perceiving us in a certain way we need to remember that those protective behaviours have been developing for years in order to give us a sense of safety and the capability to move about and function in our world. Any threat to their existence and possible demise will be met with the fury of a cornered animal.

Often we may have recurring reactions from people which may be confusing, even perplexing. We may put ourselves out there to interact with others expecting one level of response – but instead we experience the opposite. We can be feeling upbeat and open and may chime into a conversation with a joke or humorous story only to be met with derision or feeling shut out. Our attempts at interaction can be foiled by our lack of awareness as to what effect we have on others. If we assign responsibility for other peoples’ reactions entirely to them and claim they have their own issues, we may be missing an opportunity to take a look at ourselves. While the claim that the bad reaction is their problem may be true, it can also be a missed opportunity for us to examine what we are projecting and others are reacting to. Our intention may not be matching up with our behaviour or external self due to the incongruity with our internal landscape.

If we consider other people as catalysts for us to cultivate greater self awareness, then looking at their reactions to our behaviour must be honoured as an opening to see what they may feel and we may not see.

The best of traits can have both a light and dark side. Humour is a very tricky trait that can garner a laugh as was intended, but used with the wrong timing or tone it can feel judgemental and humiliating which will lead to an angry outburst. Caring and compassion may be soothing and comforting, but delivered with the wrong tone or gestures it can be experienced as condescending or hypocritical.

The ability to step back and look at how we present ourselves to the outer world while ensuring that it is congruent with both our intent and our inner world helps us to develop a calm peaceful persona. This is a perfect place to utilize all of our traits and talents when we engage others. The positive regard others hold for us rests solely on our ability to project a congruent message between our external and internal worlds combined with our intentions. Who we think we are is often different from what we project to others. Our ability to identify discrepancies will smooth out a number of the bumps we may repeatedly be experiencing on our journey.

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. For more information or for a course calendar, call 416-484-0454 or 1-800-TAC-SELF, or visit www.transformationalarts.com. To receive their monthly e-newsletter, email marketing@transformationalarts.com

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