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We all need to become more comfortable with exploring our inner world. Persons who have never learned to feel comfortable in their internal world become hamstrung in managing their lives. They may sell out and give over their personhood to some influential person or group of persons. They give up on being who they truly are.
Paying attention to your internal world is vital to your attainment of soul-satisfying contentment. I want to give you a plan for increasing your internal awareness. Here are five specific suggestions for achieving greater internal awareness.
1. Write out your intention. On an index card, write what you hope to accomplish – and how you’re going to accomplish it – and post it on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror or anywhere you’re sure to see it every day. Your message might be as simple as:
• I want to become fully aware of all my deepest thoughts and feelings.
• I want to listen long and hard to the flow of vital information that is constantly available within me.
• I will spend at least a half hour every day thinking and journaling. I will also find a friend with whom I can sort through all that I’m thinking and feeling.
Having your goal and plan of action clearly outlined will keep you on track and moving forward.
2. Write in your journal every day. You only need to write for five or ten minutes, but it’s critical that you write your honest thoughts and feelings as they come to you. The goal is to practice tapping in to your internal reservoir. The more you do this, the more naturally the journaling will come to you. I have had a journal for years and it keeps me focused on my internal world.
3. Read something every day that stimulates your internal process. I read a chapter from Scripture each evening and spend at least ten minutes reading various spiritual reflection books before bed. This kind of reading has a way of leading you toward the center of yourself. If you read with a personal perspective about how the writing affects you and speaks to your daily needs, you will get more deeply in touch with your inner thoughts and feelings.
4. Spend regular time with people who know themselves well and who encourage you to talk about what you feel most strongly. Get personal with these people. Try to understand them as best you can, and tell them as fully as possible about who you are. I have always had several individuals who I would call my spiritual directors and gurus, and they are invaluable to my personal growth and development.
5. Pray. Prayer is meant to be a conversation with God. It involves pouring out your heart to Him about what is most on your mind and then listening intently to what He says to you in response. I do this every day, and I can tell you that prayer has had more influence on my life and my work with people than anything else I do.
All of us long for the rich contentment of life. It all begins way down at the center of you in your inner world. To the degree that you can stay solidly in touch with your internal messages, deeply aware of all your own data (your thoughts, feelings, needs and wishes) then you are well on your way to experiencing true joy and contentment.
Bob Mueller is the senior director of mission and stewardship at Hosparus. The views in this column are those of the writer.