Let’s face it, inner conflict is exhausting. It’s a total mojo and creativity killer. It stops you from being in the present. You can’t draw on all of you and your inner resources. Because you’re so busy having an internal tug of war. See-sawing between longings, dreams and desires and the parts of you that are heavily invested in remaining skeptical, stubborn and fixed on how things should be. Aka your inner killjoy.
Inner conflict most often boils down to a classic battle between your heart and mind.
Getting stuck in inner conflict is like driving a car with 3 flat tyres. It slows you down and everything takes more effort and energy. It impacts just about every area of your life. And the longer you stay stuck in this zone, the more it starts to drive you crazy.
When you’ve got two or more very distinct warring factions inside, you need to pull out some clever, creative moves to break the impasse. Otherwise it can just go on and on, wasting you precious time and energy, eroding your sanity! Some people literally waste years at a time paralyzed and stuck in inner conflict. If you can relate, then you know how awful and upsetting this can be. You know you’re stuck, but you just can’t see the way out and forward.
Often inner conflict comes from subconsciously, or consciously, buying into someone else’s dreams, judgments or value system. Usually parents or someone else from your tribe. Sometimes it’s peers or the people you’re spending the most time with.
This gets played out in a whole range of different areas in life. One of the most common is in career choice. So many times I’ve seen people who are miserable deep down inside because they’ve dutifully taken on degrees, jobs and career paths to ultimately gain approval and recognition from the outside. Eventually these decisions come back to bite. They eventually start to wonder why they’re not happy or personally fulfilled. It’s as if they’ve been living someone else’s life and dreams. False. Self. Syndrome.
The false self never brings lasting fulfilment. It leaves you feeling uncertain, empty and flimsy inside.
So what’s the antidote to inner conflict?
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C G Jung believed that the Self has an innate drive to evolve and self-actualize. As a psychotherapist and coach, I’ve found this to be absolutely true. Your authentic, innate self wins out in the end when it comes to loosening the grip of inner conflict so you don’t become permanently stuck and pot-bound. The constant pressure and dissatisfaction you’re feeling inside eventually builds up to a point where it finally becomes unbearable. You just can’t stand the status quo stalemate anymore. You know you have to break free and take a risk and follow your passions and dreams. But not after having gone through a lot of inner conflict and emotional pain. Often your body will push things to a head. You start to have physical symptoms or an accident occurs out of the blue where you’re forced to slow down, take time out, nourish and intimately tune into your true self. Finally the noise and distractions have been turned down and you start to listen to and act on what your real self has been trying to tell you.
The best way forward is first going inwards, doing the inner journey, in order to find pathways and activities that enliven you. Creating the space to do this. Then committing to follow through. To follow your bliss.
So often the pathway or decision that’s ultimately the right one for you is NOT the one that’s coming from your rational mind. It’s tuning into what your intuition and heart have been trying to tell you.
It’s also about accessing and owning your own power. Not projecting it onto someone else, inadvertently opting for powerlessness and passive victim roles. To access your own power and the amazing resources inside of you, it’s vital that you accept your vulnerabilities. This ironically makes you stronger inside. To do this often requires visiting the underworld to find out out what fears and unmet needs are driving your choices, and which parts of you are overly attached to these.
Doing the inner journey makes you more self-aware.
But it’s more than just doing the inner journey.
What you ultimately need to do is have a round table discussion with the different selves inside of you whenever you’re feeling pulled by inner conflict. You need to develop the capacity to observe who in you wants what and why.
Then it’s about taking action because it’s only through doing and trying out different things that you get to really find out what’s going to bring you the most satisfaction and joy. It’s rarely a smooth linear process. It can be confusing and convoluted. But it’s always worth it. Being proactive and taking risks is the antidote to living a life full of regrets over what you never dared to pursue.
If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living, is the one you’re living. And when you can see it, you begin to deal with people who are in the field of your bliss. And they open doors to you. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
Janelle Legge is a Psychotherapist, Leadership, Mindfulness and Wellbeing Consultant and Coach who specialises in Relationships, Career Success, Life-Work Integration and Wellbeing. Janelle sees clients in person in Sydney and works with clients around the world via Skype. To book a skype session with Janelle click here.