“Inviting Yourself In” A Blog Series on Supporting Recovery through our Inner Landscape

This series will explore themes of healing and going deeper into yourself, welcoming all parts of yourself – the light and the dark – to the metaphorical table, in order to live a life of meaning, purpose, and peace, and experience a deeper appreciation for the complexities of the human experience.

In a recent process group at Reasons, we explored the ideas of trust and betrayal. When I brought up the idea of trusting yourself to be able to make it through painful times in life such as broken relationships, one of the people in the group asked me a few really important questions:

How do you actually learn to do this? Where do you start? 

These questions really got me thinking!

Where do you start?

I was so inspired by this question and its potential for helping people on the road to recovery that I wanted to explore it more through this blog series.

I have been a long time believer that there is something really important about practicing trust in yourself and believing in your capacity to not only survive, but to have an internal sense of courage and peace even when your world feels like it is falling apart. Life is complicated and messy. Often things don’t work out the way we imagined, hoped or planned. Sometimes, this is for the good and we can make sense of it while other times, it just feels too intense or chaotic and it is hard to see the benefit for us in all the suffering.

For most of us, we just don’t like discomfort. We naturally move away from the things that we fear or bring us discomfort. And the hardest thing about it all is that life presents us with situations that bring discomfort or fear almost every day. The work of healing is in taking steps towards these fears instead of moving away. It is moving through this discomfort, even when we are scared, that actually provides us the opportunity for growth and building our resilience. These moments might come in the form of small opportunities in our day or week. These moments might also come in the form of big events in life, where we feel like things are on fire and we just aren’t sure if we can trust in our ability to survive what is happening.

Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, says, “Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down”. How true is that? Think about it for a minute. I’m sure you can think of many examples, just this week, where you felt on the edge of that decision point – do I open up? Or do I shut down? I think a lot of times we choose the latter, the shut down… it’s just safer, it feels more protective, more natural, less chance for getting hurt or betrayed. The problem is that we can’t choose to just not feel the negative things. What happens instead is that we move toward a place of numbness where we don’t feel anything at all.

When we protect ourselves by going numb, we actually create an energetic barrier around our heart so others can’t get in and we can’t experience our own vulnerability and courage. We rob ourselves of… well… of the experience of ourselves, including ourselves in relationship to others.

Trust in one’s self and trust in others are essential to our sense of wholeness and for accessing our fullest potential for wisdom, strength, vulnerability, and love.

Trusting yourself includes developing an intimate knowledge of your inner landscape and belief in your ability to make it through dark times. It is a willingness to be with the darker parts of yourself and even invite them to have a voice, learn from them, and transform your relationship to them.

So, back to that simple yet profound question, “where do you start?”

As I was asked that question in group – a word and an image came to mind.

The word was resilience and the image was of a fire burning deep within our center.

Remember, resilience isn’t something that you either have or don’t have – it is something that can be developed and nurtured in our lives. We don’t all react the same way to hard times in our life so developing resilience and learning self-trust will look a little different for everyone; however, there are some common principles we can explore here together.

So, let’s take a journey to our center – our inner landscape – and explore the fire of our own resiliency and learn the practice of trusting ourselves when it feels like our world is uncertain at best and perhaps even falling apart.

Tips for Fanning Your Inner Flame of Self-Trust and Resiliency

1. Stay Connected

I suggest starting with this one because I think in many ways it might be the most important of all. Staying connected is both about other people and yourself. This work is best done in practice and not done in isolation; keeping the lines of communication open with others is key here. Let people know you are working on trusting your inner resiliency which means taking risks of vulnerability with others. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. And for your self-connection, spend time with yourself, in quiet, setting the phone aside, turning the TV off and journaling, writing to yourself, keeping the lines of communication open between you and you.

2. Listen Deeply

Keeping the lines of communication open with yourself allows for the space in which to be able to listen deeply. What does this mean exactly – listening deeply? It means taking a mindful approach to yourself, giving yourself the gift of your full attention. This may mean sitting in quiet, it may mean wandering throughout a favorite place in nature, it may mean heading to a yoga class, or creating a piece of art. What is it that your soul is drawn towards? What creates and maintains space for you to hear your inner wisdom? What is the fire that burns within you? Trusting yourself requires really hearing the desires of your soul and learning more about your inner world. Learn who you are and who you want to be. When we listen deeply, we might be surprised to discover the strength we have developed internally from the difficult times in our lives. 

3. Practice Authenticity

After we listen deeply and hear the desires of our soul, we have the unique opportunity to take action on those things and keep promises to ourselves. Authentic living means bringing the core of who we are into the world. This might occur in a relationship by setting a boundary or moving deeper into the connection. We might have the opportunity to practice this in our relationship with ourselves by paying attention to our intuition and then taking an action step in service of that. An example would be that one of your core values is forgiveness, yet you have not extended forgiveness toward yourself for something. Building resilience and trusting yourself requires practice and taking risks in service of new experiences so we are not left feeling constricted or stagnant.

4. Rewrite your Narrative

This is where I think the image of the fire really finds its fullest expression. Trusting our own sense of self and building our inner resilience in difficult situations takes an inner fire. Fire can be destructive, but it can also burn away something old to make room for something new. Fire is an alchemical symbol of transformation. It can also be a symbol of zeal and passion. Think back to a difficult time and how you got through it. Perhaps there are some things you aren’t proud of, but if you look closely through the process of staying connected with yourself and listening deeply, you might also see your inner fire. This is how you can start to learn what you are capable of – your true capacity for life, for survival, and for meaning, purpose, and joy.

Ask what stories you are telling yourself about yourself… Are you ready to challenge them? Allow your inner fire to begin to transform your story.

I leave you with a quote from a woman who has inspired me, Marion Woodman, a Jungian analyst and one who has tirelessly honored body and soul:

“It takes hard work to differentiate our inner voices, and in crises, there is no time to waste. So spend an hour a day writing. Separate real from unreal, what stays from what goes. Then leap beyond anything you ever imagined.” ~ Marion Woodman