Looking back over the past twenty years of my life, I notice that times of a lot of external change were usually preceded by a deep pull inward: a period of maybe a week, or two, or more, where I needed to become very still, write in my journal more than usual, and detach from the external world.
I remember a period like this in my early twenties where I took lots of long walks in the evening after work for several weeks. And another period years later where instead of going out on the weekends like I usually did, I stayed in and wrote intensely in my journal. I didn’t have the money to actually quit work or take a long vacation in order to go within, but it was like some force compelled me to figure out a way, anyway; it was a taking stock of where I’d been and where I was so that I could move forward in a clear and powerful way.
Except I didn’t really know this at the time. I can only see it in retrospect.
I have a couple of clients right now who are feeling this pull to move inward. And, not surprisingly, they’re having a hard time listening to it.
We often resist this inner calling for a while before we finally surrender to it. I think there are a several reasons for this:
1) We have an increasing number of distractions at our fingertips (the other night I was watching American Horror Story on my laptop WHILE looking up trivia about it on imdb on my iPad — and not fully present for either activity). I believe that our ability to focus — or maybe simply our willingness to concentrate on one thing — is becoming seriously impaired, and we need to take charge of this, STAT. It’s killing our souls.
2) We’re afraid of what we might find if we do go inward and be really present with what’s there. What if we discover that we need to make big, painful changes in order to live the life we want? Sometimes we’d rather not know and live in a murky sort of limbo.
3) We’re afraid of the intimacy that comes from having a relationship with ourselves. Truly tuning in and heeding that inward pull means we actually get to know ourselves on a really deep level. (I’ve had clients tell me that they don’t want to do morning pages for this reason. They aren’t sure they want to know themselves that well. They aren’t sure they’ll like the person who shows up on those pages.) Just as becoming more and more intimate with another person is a risk, so is getting to know ourselves. What happens when we encounter pieces of us that we just don’t want to be with?
The good news is that, whether sooner or later, our intolerance for a disconnect with our essential self wins out, and we do go inward. (It’s just usually better for us when we listen to the call sooner rather than later.) Our souls won’t tolerate the numbness that comes from a life half-lived, and eventually we are forced to listen.
Here are some suggestions, though, for making it easier to trust that pull inward, when it comes:
1) Take a weekly break from the online world. A total break, for a few hours, or more, if it feels workable for you. During this break, pay attention to your body, go out for a walk; remind yourself that you are a physical being in a body with a connection to the earth, not a just fingers and a brain connected to a device.
2) Just as you are allowed to take your time in getting to know another person (in fact, true intimacy with another often develops slowly, over time — the quick kind tends to evaporate), you are also allowed to take time in getting to know yourself. If you have resistance to connecting with yourself, it may be because you’re trying to do too much too soon. You can connect with yourself in small doses, whether that’s through journaling or just being present with what you’re feeling for a couple of minutes at a time.
3) Promise yourself that you don’t have to take action on anything you discover about yourself. Recognizing that you really want to move to Europe does not mean you have to take action on that knowledge, now or ever. You may choose to act on it (and hopefully, if it’s truly right for you, you will!). But, as I so often say to my clients, it’s simply good to know. That’s the point of connecting with yourself — to know the truth about yourself. It is not about forcing yourself to completely overhaul your life. I’ve seen time and again that we are far more willing to know our truth, and own it, when we trust that we do NOT have to take immediate action on it.
Have you struggled to trust the pull to go within and connect with yourself? What made it a challenge for you, and what helped? I’d love to hear, in the comments.
Image is “One Sepia Rowboat” © Tatiana Sayig | Dreamstime Stock Photos
4 thoughts on “Trusting the deep pull inward”
Jill, this is a very special blog, or maybe you speak of something I needed to be reminded of right now. It’s interesting that this turning inward can be at a certain period in one’s life, or it can happen once or twice a day, when my momentum is stopped for some unknown reason, and I have to face something in myself that needs facing. This is beyond my daily early morning meditation, when I often have to face a less than ideal attitude towards the upcoming day.
I’m also reminded very much of James Scott Bell’s “mirror moment” when a character has to stop and take stock of himself, seeing that he has to change in some way or perish, psychologically if not physically.
Thanks so much for this comment, Fredrica! Yes, it is interesting that sometimes the turning inward is on a larger scale at a certain period, but it happens for me in smaller ways on a daily basis, too. And you’re right, the “mirror moment” is totally relevant here, too! Thanks, as always, for reading. 🙂
Such a great post Jill, and one that resonated so deeply with me it was almost spooky – in a good way! Actually, if I look back, mostly these quiet times have happened quite consciously in my life. I’ve seen the change coming and wanted to prepare for it. Right now, it’s a little different. I feel the call to go inward and life on the outer is busy and complex and demanding. For the first time I don’t know what the change is, I just know it’s coming, and that’s new territory for me. It’s also less easy for me to make time for the inner listening because I feel less able to justify it, as the change I’m preparing for doesn’t yet have a form. Does that make any sense? Anyway, I’m going to read this post again later…thanks so much Jill for so generously sharing your wisdom here. Blessings and gratitude, Harula xxxx
Harula, I’m so glad this post resonated for you at a deep level. And I really hear you about the intuitive knowing that the change is coming, but not knowing what it is yet. That’s really interesting that it doesn’t feel as easy for you to make time for inner listening because you feel less able to justify it (not knowing what the coming change will be yet). Why do you need to justify it? Do we need a “good reason” to go within? Can we do it simply because it feels right? (I ask these questions for myself, too, as I really relate to where you’re coming from on this!) I’m so happy you shared. 🙂
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