It's common knowledge that taking time to care for your outer environment can help you feel more clear, calm, supported, and in control.
What's less well-known is that to STAY feeling good, you need to care for your INNER world too.
Because just like the external spaces of your life, your inner world's also prone to fill with clutter, mess, and chaos.
Only this time it's:
• mental clutter caused by constant thinking, analysing, planning, problem-solving, judging, and predicting.
• emotional mess created by unmet needs, painful memories, old wounds, and daily stressors.
• psychological chaos caused by negative thinking, critical self-talk, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful stories.
Typically, you're taught to shove this stuff down inside of yourself, so you can remain presentable on the outside.
Trouble is, this takes up a LOT of valuable inner space and energy, which can leave you feeling taxed, chaotic, anxious, overwhelmed, lethargic, troubled, and like you're fit to burst.
So, let's explore 6 steps to help you care for your inner world, so you can feel better IN yourself.
❶ Let Go of Emotional Baggage
Carrying around old pent-up emotions can leave you feeling stuck, heavy, tired, and stagnant.
If you want to feel better in the long term, one of the BEST things you can do is find a safe, healthy way to express and release these old emotions.
You can do this alone through things like journaling, art-making, dancing, or in trusted conversation - simply make space for yourself and see what naturally bubbles to the surface for expression.
Or you can seek guidance and support from a counsellor or therapist to help you work through it.
Each bit of pent-up emotion you release creates a little more clarity, peace, and freedom within yourself and enables you to tap into more of your innate power, creativity, and joy.
❷ Tell Better Stories
What stories do you tell about yourself and your life?
Do they tend to be balanced and affirming OR critical and limiting?
It's important to get clear on the kind of stories you tell, because they impact on your sense of self, your sense of reality, and your behaviour.
If you frequently tell negative stories about yourself and your life it can leave you feeling sad, mad, bitter, or bad about things.
Telling more authentic, affirming stories about who you are, where you've been, what you've done, what's happening for you right now, and where you're going in life can all help you to feel much better.
So, where do you start?
First, get clear on the kind of stories you're telling right now.
Write down 3 stories you repeat about yourself and your life - either to yourself or other people.
Maybe you always tell that story of how uncreative you are - or how you have to do everything for everybody -
or how useless you are because you never succeed at anything.
Then ask yourself:
• Is this REALLY true? (be HONEST - don't let your inner critic answer this question for you)
• Does this story help or hurt me? (speak it aloud and see if it makes you feel good or bad about things)
• What's a better story I could tell? (one that's more balanced, affirming, or positive)
The more authentic, loving stories you tell about yourself and your life the better you'll begin to feel.
❸ Move Your Energy
You're an energetic being with physical, mental, emotional, creative, sexual, and spiritual energies inside of you.
These dynamic energies need to be channelled and expressed - otherwise they can become stuck, stagnant, and imbalanced.
Trouble is, so much of modern day life can keep you stuck in the mental energies of your head.
So, you have to consciously make time to channel your other energies to remain clear, calm, balanced, whole, and vital.
Take a moment and consider:
• Do you make use of all of the different energies within you?
• If not, which ones do you use most and which are often neglected?
• How could you make more use of those neglected energies in your everyday life?
So, for example, if you neglect your creative energy you might choose to channel it into your outfit choices or in a home decor project. If you neglect your spiritual energy you might take more time to be still, read soul-stirring books, or connect with nature.
It's well-worth taking time to keep these different energies moving, because it WILL help you to feel much better in and about yourself.
❹ Reduce Mental Loops
When you get stuck in a cycle of overthinking - replaying the same old event - or continually rehearsing a scenario in your head you tend to:
a) use up a lot of energy (which could be better channeled elsewhere).
b) stir-up difficult feelings like anxiety, stress, frustration, sadness, resentment, or shame.
None of this is conducive to you feeling good in yourself.
Whilst it can be hard to catch yourself at it, when you DO become aware try to:
1) Stop it - to break the pattern first notice how you're stuck in it - then gently tell yourself how you don't need to keep repeating this event - then actively switch your focus to something else (like your breath or a positive affirmation).
2) Mindfulness - get into the habit of paying attention to what's happening INSIDE of yourself and practice bringing yourself back to your sense of centre.
❺ Go Into Nature
Getting out into nature is a great way to feel better in yourself.
You're PART of nature and your inner being responds to fresh air, the beauty of flora and fauna, and the life-giving elements.
It doesn't have to involve a huge hike or magnificent scenery. A short walk or simply sitting in your garden can work wonders.
The key is to allow yourself to sink into the experience - let go of the incessant mental chatter and inner commentary - BE fully in the moment - use all of your senses - try not to multi-task at the same time (e.g checking emails or calling a friend).
❻ Tidy your Outer Spaces
When your outer environment's dirty or messy it can make you feel stressed, annoyed, and chaotic inside.
If this is the case, start to address the issue one small step at a time.
You don't have to tackle a whole room, as this can just create overwhelm - which will make you feel worse not better - so choose one thing that's bugging you and get it sorted, even if it's just your handbag or a drawer.
If that feels easy, clean and tidy another small area and repeat over time.
You'll feel better for getting on top of it, and your life will run a little more smoothly because of it.
On the flip side, when you feel stressed, annoyed, and chaotic you can channel that agitated energy into something productive like cleaning and tidying - rather than letting it fester.
So, there's 6 steps to help you feel better but, of course, they'll only work if you act on them - so pick one or two to help you improve how you feel today.
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When you walk your own spiritual path, it can be hard to get to grips with what your spiritual tenets actually are.
This can add a whole other layer of complexity, confusion, and doubt to what is already a challenging journey.
So, I wanted to share some of the conclusions I've come to about my own spirituality, in case it helps you to feel more clear about yours.
I choose to carve out my own unique spiritual path, one step at a time.
I LOVE having the freedom to:
● Explore different spiritual ideas, tools, and practices
● Think my own spiritual thoughts
● Have my own subjective spiritual experiences
● Follow my own inner knowing, insights, and wisdom
● Embrace my spiritual AND material life - I want to feel authentic, inspired, nourished, and abundant in both.
I guess you could say that I cherry-pick the ideas, beliefs, and practices that suit me best - the ones that FEEL most like truth to me and the ones that best help to inspire, uplift, and transform me.
I used to worry this made me flaky or non-committal.
But, summarising what Buddhist teacher, Jack Cornfield* says, the spiritual path isn't a prescribed formula we all have to follow. Rather, we have to be ourselves, learn to listen to and trust ourselves, and discover and connect with our unique expression of the truth.
Amen to that.
I DON'T pursue spiritual ideas, beliefs, or practices that:
● Make me feel bad, wrong, diminished, or insecure - my inner critic can always do that
● Dictate what I should think or do as a ‘good’ spiritual person - I've got my own well-developed ethical and moral compass thanks.
Philosophically, I align with Panentheism.
So, I subscribe to the idea that there's a higher divine Source - a supreme cosmic ground of being - a powerful, spiritual-creative, energetic layer of reality - that permeates all things but also exists beyond space and time.
I love having a mystical relationship, and co-creating, with this bigger-than-me mysterious force.
It allows me to experience myself, and my life, as something more expansive, sacred, and wonder-full than my rational, mundane reality and self.
I don't know what that spiritual-creative Source is exactly but I'm good with not knowing.
A huge part of my spiritual path is doing the inner and outer work that enables me to be my true Self, grow into my potentials, and thrive in life that fulfils my mind, body, spirit, and soul.
This includes things like:
● Being aware of, and healing, my shadow
● Cultivating higher energies (like inspiration, love, and joy) inside of myself and my life
● Tapping into and expressing my spiritual-creative side
● Taking care of my mental, physical, and emotional well-being
● Taking inspired action to help me manifest my visions into reality
I'm not aiming to transcend into the spiritual ether or become a perfected being of love and light.
I want to embrace being human. I want to enjoy my experience of living an embodied material life.
AND I want to cultivate my relationship with the magical, mystical, immaterial realm that makes everything feel more exciting, wild, vivid, and alive.
I guess you could say I want the best of both worlds - don't you?
My Key Spiritual Influences Include:
● My Book - the outline for which 'downloaded' in the night and now forms the blueprint for my work
● Psycho-spiritual psychology
● Spiritual alchemy
● Archetypes and symbology
● Intentional creativity and the expressive/ healing arts
I hope that by sharing a bit about my own spiritual path it reassures, and encourages, you to keep following yours.
*Jack Cornfield (2011) Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are.
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Do you ever feel lost, wonder why you're here, or struggle to figure-out what you're meant to do with your life?
Do you have this deep sense that you're destined for MORE? That YOU can be, do, and have more - if you could only find out what?
Have you wracked-your-brain and searched-your-soul trying to figure-out what'll give you a deep sense of direction, meaning, and significance in life?
If so, you probably know the longing, dissatisfaction, hunger, and unease that can accompany this existential desire to find your life's purpose.
It can be a deeply lonely experience, but you're not on your own.
Finding your life's purpose has perplexed and challenged humans across time.
And it's still an issue for many today.
That's why there are so many resources and coaches out there offering their advice and guidance on it.
But, I see a problem with what they share.
When they talk about your life's purpose, they're actually talking about your WORK.
Even if they come at it from a spiritual angle - like your soul's calling or divine purpose - it's still about work.
To tie your PURPOSE - your REASON FOR BEING - just to your work is limiting, potentially crazy-making, and soul-destroying!
It feeds right into that toxic western idea that your identity, value, and PURPOSE depend largely on your job, vocation, productivity, and material contribution.
So, what happens when you can't - or choose not - to work?
Do you cease to have a purpose? Do you no longer have a reason for being?
Of course not!
But, it can feel like it, because of the distorted value and attention given to work, productivity, and observable contribution, wealth, and success in our westernised societies.
Your life's purpose - your reason for being - is FAR greater than your work.
Your life's purpose is to explore, know, be, love, and express who you are deep in your core.
You might call this your spiritual essence, true Self, or soul.
There’s over 7 billion humans on the planet, and there’s no-one quite like you.
There never has been, and there never will be.
The probability of you being here is almost zero. You're basically a miracle.
Your purpose is to uncover, experience, and share the miracle that is YOU.
Unlike your work, this purpose lasts a lifetime, and no matter how old, ill, or infirm you still remain significant.
Don't box yourself in by trying to define your life's purpose by what you do for your work.
Let it be more about fully experiencing and becoming all that YOU are - which is WAY more exciting, expansive, and fulfilling.
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Having dreams for yourself and your life is a good thing, as it helps to inspire and motivate you towards what you most desire.
But 'someday' dreams are different.
This is really just a form of wishful thinking, where you imagine that 'someday' the perfect person, situation, or thing is going to come along and make EVERYTHING better.
It could be the perfect job, ideal soul-mate, beautiful body, financial success, or gorgeous home.
Whatever it is, you're convinced it's going fix all your problems and FINALLY you'll be happy and fulfilled forevermore.
I spent years waiting for that magical 'someday' when my life would be transformed for the better and here's what I now know - this kind of wishful thinking is risky and tends to hinder, rather than help, you in life.
❶ You Live for the Future
You can have your eyes so firmly fixed on some imaginary future that your present life becomes little more than something you've got to get through and endure.
But you only ever live in the present moment - not in your idealised future.
The risk: you fail to see all the blessings, possibilities, and opportunities in your life right now.
❷ You Stay Passive
Your dream of a fairytale ending can keep you holding-out, like a damsel-in-distress, for that perfect person, situation, or thing to come along and save you.
In the meantime you take minimal responsibility, and no direct action, for improving your life today.
The risk: you spend a lifetime waiting for an imaginary saviour who comes.
❸ You Get Stuck in A Mental Trap
Your 'someday' dreams can keep you stuck in an addictive mental cycle that looks like this:
Whenever it seems like your dream's about to come true you experience a high.
When your 'someday' dream gets thwarted you experience a painful low.
You soon begin to crave your perfect 'someday' once again, as you think it's the ultimate fix to your struggles and suffering.
The risk: you continually cycle through this addictive loops, which then impacts your life in negative ways.
❹ Nothing Really Changes
'Someday' you might get that dream job, soul-mate etc. only to realise that nothing’s really changed INSIDE of you - the struggle, suffering, and pain is STILL there.
The risk: you find another 'someday' dream to focus on, and start the process all over again.
In reality, it's unlikely that one person, situation, or thing will ever transform your life into some perfect utopia.
Instead, YOU have to dig deep, roll up your sleeves, and work at bringing about those desired positive changes in your inner and outer life.
It's how you discover what you're made of.
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Every flower in the garden’s different and each blooms true to itself, without comparison or shame.
Every tree stands tall and proud, without being diminished by the majesty of the others that surround it.
Every creature has its unique way of being that suits its path in life, without expectation that it should change.
Every star shines brightly, without ever compromising its own light.
So what is it that makes it hard for us to claim OUR unique essence, beauty, majesty, and light?
What makes us compare our very existence? Or compels us to hide or snuff-out our light? Or the light of others?
Where were those who could teach us how to stand rooted in our own wild and essential nature …fully and without apology, like other creatures?
After all, what are we apologising for?
For not being as they expected or needed? For making others feel something they dislike? For not being good enough or too much in their eyes?
Who is that holds all these expectations about how we should be?
Does anyone ever question why that rose is red, rather than yellow? Or why the bee can fly but the lion can’t?
Does anyone compare flora and fauna and judge that one should be more like the other? Of course not.
But when it comes to us humans, there are all these ideas about how we should be, and who is better, and who is right, and who should change.
When we present ourself bare, in the truth of our own essential skin, we are too often made to feel shame.
It seems many would prefer us wrapped-up in the fur of pretence, and have us morph ourself to suit their personal desires and whims.
How come the ant and elephant are both respected as mighty ~ or the cactus and porcupine are both allowed to be spiky ~ or birds can freely fly in different directions and all are accepted.
Why is it that judgment, comparison, expectation, and critique are reserved for us humans?
Perhaps it’s fear that makes us believe we need to be better, or at least alike, in order to survive.
Maybe it's the psychic mirror within us that reflects back our wounds when we see another shine.
Maybe our own soul hunger feeds off making the other wrong and small.
In the face of this how do we honour, and trust in, the rightness of our unique being?
How do we dare declare, “Look at me, here I am, standing tall”?
How do we shake-off the collective pretence that has us feeling afraid of our truth?
How do we foster a balanced human ecosystem, where each person is seen as integral to the delicate web of life?
Where those who are cunning and adaptable are accepted like fox ~ and those who are timid and watchful are embraced like deer ~ and those who are powerful and proud be respected like lion?
How do we accept, embrace, and respect these same qualities in our self, first of all?
This is the real work of our species ~ to realise, respect, and protect the diversity that lives within our own self, and between us all.
To not modify or homogenise our humanity to suit our own, or other's, preferences, insecurities, or needs.
But to allow our uniqueness to flourish knowing that each and every one of us is essential, just as we are.
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I created this visual meditation using my artwork and words - watch it whenever you need to feel more inspired.
It's here to remind you that your creativity isn't limited to a talent in the arts.
Creativity is the very essence of you.
You are creativity in motion ...an artist in your soul, with the power to co-create yourself and your life.
Your creativity enables you to experience, explore, and express all the wonder, and potential, WITHIN you.
Don't let limiting ideas creativity hinder you ...let your creative spirit free.
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Rest easy in yourself.
Find a way to honour your life. Don’t just settle for some nullifying existence.
Dare to do that which helps you feel alive.
Break free of the unconscious restrictions that chain you.
Unravel all the lies, and untruths, that you’ve adopted as your own. Let them go, they don't belong to you.
Behold the everyday miracles that too easily pass you by: the majesty of nature and the dynamic brilliance of your own true Self.
Get in touch with your heart. Without feeling, what is life?
Let go of the inner, and outer, drama for it only gives you a short-lived, ultimately futile, high.
Allow yourself to rest. Rest your exhausted body and mind. Sink into the knowing that all is well, with or without you out in the game.
Allow yourself to breathe. Allow yourself to be. You can do that, can't you? Or have you forgotten how?
Drop that mask of pretence, show-up naked, as you are. Dare to be undressed.
Let go of that cloak of expectation, which weights heavy upon your shoulders, and all those ideas that tell you that pushing through is the only way. What, or who, are you doing it all for, anyway?
The mask. The cloak. What do they mask and cloak?
What’s there, hidden beneath the surface? Do you dare to scratch?
Go on, unveil the magic within you, if only to yourself. Deep down, you know you want to.
Oh, but maybe you’re afraid.
You know it’s an itch you can’t scratch in an instant.
You know the itch will magnify, and grow, and you will be called to be different. Called to be more fully yourself.
It can feel scary but you’ll be okay.
In fact, you’ll be all the better for it, and you’ll wonder why you ever wore that mask, and cape, in the first place.
Relinquish that which does not belong to you and seize that which is yours to own.
Don that which befits your brilliance and humanity. Wear your uniqueness as a crown.
Don’t sacrifice who you are for fear of what they may think or say. Don’t belittle yourself to make them feel tall.
Don’t despise yourself for being a piece that just doesn’t seem to fit …too little, too much, too big, too small.
What is that? That incessant judgement about who you should be, and what you should do.
Really, question ‘what IS that?’. We often need to understand things, before we can let them go.
See into your own heart, your own potential, and soul. Who lives within? Do you know?
It is time. You know it. You feel yourself being pulled, called, irritated, and illuminated.
It might not make much sense, but it makes much more sense than you might yet know.
Do you dare to go into it? Explore it? Don’t ignore it. It's your call to grow.
All things grow (and decay), and rise (and fall), and blossom (and whither). Are you present for your own cycle of becoming?
Come, come out here to that place where all things fall away and new, more authentic things can grow.
Come to the places, and spaces, that want to know, nurture, and love you.
It's never too late. It's never too soon. Now is always the time. Now is the only time. It’s the only place you can fully dwell. So be here. Really, be here.
Do you yet know your Self? Do you know how powerful that is …both the question, and the knowing?
You know you’re a freaking miracle right?
Probably not, because no one ever told you. You're one amongst billions, but every one is distinctly different. Do you know what you taste like?
Do you know if you’re really living?
Do you want to live? It’s strange question, I know. But maybe you're content to exist? Endure? Get through?
Do you need permission to live? Do you need to discover what living even is?
No one has the answer.
That’s part of the riddle, you see. You must work it out yourself. Unravel the clues, explore the wonderland, and the wasteland, and get lost in the unknown. This is the place of discovery, where your answers live.
Shake yourself, and wake yourself up from the beguiling dream that keeps you sedated and numb. Half asleep to what’s really going on.
Don’t be intoxicated by cultural indoctrination. Don’t fall prey to their measly projections.
Wake up, slowly, wake up. Stretch. Pull yourself out of the slumber. Rise, rise, and stand-up. Stand up in your knowing, your being, your life.
Live who you are. Feel awake. Feel alive. Shake off the dormancy, the relentless conformity, the endless mind-numbing chatter that limits and restricts who you are.
Behold who lives inside.
Be bold and be who you are.
Hold yourself in an ever-present space of wonder, gratitude, praise, and love. Now is always your time.
Your past isn’t always in the past.
It might be somewhat forgotten, but it can continue to exert a powerful influence on your life, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Buried deep within your cellular, energetic, subconscious, and collective memory, your past is woven within a web of family, social, political, and world history that creates a quiet, but pervasive, psychic force.
This psychic force can remotely control aspects of your thinking, behaviour, responses, choices, and ways of living.
From below your conscious radar, your past tells you how to stay afloat, sail a well-known course, and find safe harbour.
It gives you a lens through which you interpret the varied landscapes of your daily life.
Over time, then, your past can gradually take a hold of the helm, and steer your days, without you even noticing.
And, without warning, it can begin to bubble up, creating turbulent emotional seas that leave you floundering.
You might try to ignore these bubbling feelings, in order to continue your smooth passage on the surface of life.
You might attach yourself to what you think will save you, or forever seek-out brighter horizons, and things might grow quiet for a time.
But, at some point, you'll feel the bubbling swells once again, and around, and around, you go.
So where do you find your lasting lifeline?
By daring to embark on your voyage of Self discovery.
This is the journey of your lifetime, which helps you to better understand, master, and tend to your personal vessel.
In turn, you come to steer the course of your life more smoothly and effectively.
On this journey, you begin to sift through the silt that has obscured your perspective, until you can see with greater clarity, vision, and ease.
You learn how to navigate the undercurrents of your own life, which helps you to remain on a more even keel.
You find ways to re-surface whenever you capsize.
You discover great treasures, and pearls of wisdom, within your murky depths that help to enrich your life.
You fall in love with the vast mystery, and beauty, that dwells within your inner sea.
You take back control of your helm, and steer in the direction of your own choosing more easily.
You gain a renewed sense of freedom, and a taste for adventure, and your life becomes a meaningful journey once again.
© 2019 Samantha Jenkins