Finding Your Inner Guide

Finding Your Inner Guide

Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
Duke Gardens, Durham, NC

Many of us, particularly those of us who are members of the “scar clan”, the walking wounded, have an unhealthy tendency to minimize our accomplishments. We look around us and see only those people who excel, who have accomplished what we have accomplished and more. As our access and, perhaps more precisely,  our exposure to what’s going on in the world is heightened by technology, particularly while we are healing we need to be careful, and intentional, about what we allow into our view. If we do not, we may find ourselves shrinking away in horror at our utter ineptness by comparison to what we see.

Focusing our attention outside of ourselves is always a path to destruction, as in doing so we lose sight of our own inner directives and talents. The people we put on a pedestal are people we only know very superficially. The Oprah’s of the world. We may think we know them, but we only know the facade they carefully choose to share with the world. This is true all the way down to the people we connect with in social media who seem to be very much like us. They may be, but again, we do not see as clearly as we might the road they have traveled to where they are now, or even what their road really looks like.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of comparing our insides to their outsides.  (Thank you to my good friend Jill who first uttered these words to me.) It’s a wonderful little phrase that sums up a crucial concept that we should repeat to ourselves often on our healing journey and long after!

We can only walk in our own shoes. If we are fortunate we may have one or two other people in our lives with whom we have a deep enough connection to walk a bit in theirs and who set a higher standard that we can model and grow toward.  By and large, however, those “successful” people against whom we measure ourselves really have no bearing whatsoever on how we live, what we do and who we are. We only see their outsides, not their insides. We have no idea what is really true about their world as we are only seeing a very small piece of it.

It takes time, effort and attention, but when we become aware that we are doing this, it’s important to take several steps back and find our core selves again. If we do this often enough, it will become a habit and a way of life. If we ignore the signals, we will spend our lives trying to be someone we’re not, living a life we were not meant to live, all the while feeling like a failure.

We are meant to live our own lives. We are meant to use the gifts we were given. We were meant to be as fully and completely present in love to the world in which we live. Period.

When I start comparing my insides to someone’s outsides, I have learned to use this as a signal that I am not paying enough attention to the needs of my own soul, that I am not tuning in to my own heart.  I now use this awareness to draw myself back into the fold, calling my attention back to my inner guide and resources. If need be, I shut off the TV, I limit my time online, I turn my attention away from external input of any kind, even books and spend more time alone.

We all have different levels of tolerance for solitude. I am a person who requires a ton of it, but the important thing is that when we become aware that we are living “outside of” ourselves, increasing our time spent in quiet will help us to restore our inner balance.

In this quiet space I write and meditate.  You may enjoy doodling, drawing, needlework, creating a vision board, or simply doing nothing. Follow your instincts. Whatever facilitates communication with your true self and helps you clear away the debris of the world is what will bring you back to you. The first step is to disconnect from the outside world.

11 Replies to “Finding Your Inner Guide”

  1. You spoke to my heart, Dorothy, and so very eloquently, too. We must all be true to ourselves to find those illusive things called happiness and inner peace, and they won’t be found online or in someone else.

  2. Dorothy, I loved this post. You expressed a deep truth very eloquently.
    I’ve never felt the need to seek out a guru, though there have been times when I’ve felt very lost. But the thing is, I’m the only one with the map for my life. I love that you suggest that we need to disconnect and seek silence. That’s a very necessary part of my life. Thanks again for such a thought provoking post.

    1. I’ve never been a fan of gurus either. In fact, I remember very clearly the day I finally allowed myself to accept help from Crystal. It was a turning point for me, not so much in the giving up of, or giving up on myself, but perhaps for the first time allowing myself to not have all of the answers, to allow myself to lean on someone else a bit. I am the one who others lean on. I have found this willingness to receive as well as give to be a fundamental ingredient to developing deeper interpersonal relationships. I agree that our answers ultimately come from within us, but sometimes a helpful guide can gently lead us to our core selves.

  3. Wow, Dorothy. Thanks for sharing this. It’s something some of us need to be reminded of continuously. Too often we see what others are doing never realizing their suffering may be greater than our own. I choose to own my life, not anybody else’s.

  4. There is a lot of wisdom here, but I’ll latch one to just the one about comparisons which you quoted someone as saying “It’s very easy to fall into the trap of comparing our insides to their outsides.”

    I’ve had to continually remind myself that comparisons are indeed a trap and we do so at our own peril often arriving at a false conclusion: Comparisons tend to exaggerate another’s strengths and minimize our own. NO comparisons!

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