When was the last time you did outer work?
Outer work may involve consistent exercise, proper nutrition, and quality sleep.
These healthy lifestyle factors address the physical elements of existence. However, there are also emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects to consider.
So, when was the last time you did inner work?
The phrase “inner work” might initially deter some people since it conjures images of mystical trances or therapies such as hypnotism. The thought of doing “work” on one’s personality and psyche might be a tough sell for some. Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, inner work can bring about insight, inspiration, and personal growth.
Inner work is frequently overlooked in daily life. Perhaps this is because it’s often easier to evaluate physical results than emotional or psychological progress. Also, in a society preoccupied with physical appearance, outer work typically takes precedence over inner work in daily routines.
At its core, inner work is the process of getting to know yourself. It’s a form of introspective self-care where you can help yourself let go of harmful attachments, habits, people, and thoughts.
Beliefs are powerful. Sadly, it’s common for people to believe things about themselves that just aren’t true.
The trouble with negative thinking is that it can distort perceptions of reality. When left unchecked, negative self-talk can create serious self-esteem and mood problems.
Have you ever had a limiting belief such as, “I’ll never be good enough?” When these thoughts occur, challenge them with questions like, “Is that really true?” Talking back to negative thoughts can help you retrain your brain, which will allow you to focus on the positive and leave the past where it is.
Overcoming negative self-talk is just one of many types of inner work you can do. Here are some helpful ways for you to become more mindful of your inner life…
10 Ways Inner Work Can Bring Peace & Purpose to Your Life
- Just Breathe
Relaxation techniques can help you gain better control over stress and worry. Deep breathing is an effective therapy that can be done anywhere, anytime! Take deep breaths and let your mind and body start to relax.
A simple exercise to reduce stress is breathe in for 8 seconds; hold it for 8 seconds; breathe out for 8 seconds, and then hold it for 8 seconds. Repeat 4 times.
Try it. You should feel more focused and relaxed almost immediately.
- One-Page Miracle
Clear and focused objectives are essential to achieving goals. The One-Page Miracle is a powerful exercise that can make a dramatic difference in your life.
Here are the simple steps:
On a piece of paper, write down the specific goals for each area of your life, including your health (physical, emotional, and spiritual), relationships, work/school, and finances. Post it where you’ll see it every day.
Ask yourself, “Is my behavior today getting me what I want?” Focusing on what’s important to you daily may make it easier for you to attain your goals.
- Soothing Tunes
Listening to music raises dopamine levels, which can increase pleasurable feelings, improve mood, boost energy, and help with focus and concentration.
Remaining in a relaxed state of mind is easier to accomplish when you have a happy tune running through your head. Listen to brain enhancing music specifically composed to boost mood, gratitude, motivation, and inspiration.
- Visit a Haven
Choose a haven – a place where you feel comfortable and that you can imagine with all your senses. If it’s the beach, visualize the ocean, feel the sand between your toes, and the warm sun on your skin. Your haven can be any real or imaginary place where you’d like to spend time.
During each session, choose one goal to work on. Stay with that goal until you can imagine yourself reaching it, going through each of the steps required to attain it. Begin to envision yourself not as you are, but as you want to be.
Spend at least 20 minutes a day on this refueling, life-changing exercise. You might be amazed at the results.
- Practice Mindfulness
One of the best ways to achieve a state of calm is with mindfulness. Well-designed human studies show that daily mindfulness can help improve your brain. Yoga, tai chi, and other mindfulness exercises can help reduce anxious and depressive thoughts and increase focus.
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. While stretching is certainly involved, yoga can help decrease stress. As with exercise, start with short periods of 5 or 10 minutes and work your way into longer sessions.
- Write It Down
The process of journaling gives stressful thoughts a place to live other than your brain. Once those concerns have been expressed, they often lose their intensity and urgency, which will help you mentally relax. Writing in your journal 10 minutes before you go to bed can help relieve the worries of the day and put you in a restful state of mind.
- Strong Connections
Social connections can significantly affect your brain, mood, and overall well-being. Building and maintaining healthy relationships may help you feel understood and cared for. When you care for others and feel cared for, your brain releases oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone, which can counteract some of the negative effects of stress.
The health habits of the people you spend time with can have a dramatic impact on your own health. Surround yourself with people who are happy, upbeat, kind, and who challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
- Practice Gratitude
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually makes your mind work better? People who express gratitude on a regular basis are healthier, more optimistic, make more progress toward their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more helpful to others.
Write down three things you’re grateful for every day. Then, experience the joy that gratitude can bring.
- Daily Meditation
Make time for yourself every day. Taking breaks for meditation and relaxation provides benefits for both your physical and mental health.
Spending just 15 minutes alone may refresh your mind. Clearing your mind and slowing your breathing can help restore inner calm.
Repeating simple words like “May I be safe and secure” can increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones. Loving Kindness Meditations (LKM) can reduce pain and improve other mental health challenges.
- Reach Out for Help
Though isolating yourself during tough times may feel like the safest option, closing yourself off from the world can intensify negative feelings. Resist the urge to shut out the individuals who can offer you encouragement and support.
Reach out to friends and family and let them know when you’re emotionally overwhelmed. Seek professional help if necessary, but don’t fight your battles alone.
Find Your Quiet Place
A foundational element of inner work is seclusion. To clear your mind and attain a peaceful state, it’s important to shut out external distractions.
This includes turning off TVs, cell phones, and other devices. Also, it’s important to get away from loud traffic, noisy neighbors, or screaming kids. It might be best to find a place of solitude away from your home, at a park or other outdoor area.
Inner work can be a journey of self-discovery that allows you to look at your life honestly and objectively. There may be highs and lows along the way, but don’t give up. Many have found this process to be freeing and rewarding…even life-changing.
You may find that the results are well worth the investment, so set aside some time to focus on yourself today.
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