Sometimes, doing inner work can feel like stepping into one of those trust-fall exercises. Just thinking about such a leap — let alone doing it — requires courage, faith, vulnerability, and trust in the other person (the therapist), so you feel you won’t hit the ground. At least, not too many times. Whether you’re trying a trust fall or your own inner work, you need to have a hearty appetite for the unknown.
Personal growth — and other paths to inner work — doesn’t come in the form of three easy, comfortable steps, although that’s what most of us desire. Instead, we need to be willing to move without knowing exactly what’s ahead for us. Because the path only opens up when we take the first step — when we show a willingness to shift our view — we can’t fully know what we’re signing up for at the time. Chances are, if we did, we’d probably opt out. But making the effort can bring actual beneficial results.
How can you tell if you’re ready to take that first step? Maybe, something in your life isn’t working the way you’d like. And maybe, you’ve sought professional help. That means you’re on your way. Then, in your therapeutic sessions, when you name what you want for yourself and explore how to have it, you’ll discover new territory. You’ll realize that the once-necessary but now-outdated ways you identified yourself, and the accompanying patterns and strategies you employ to support your identity, are often the very things that stand in the way of having what you truly want.
Your ability to discover ‘new territory’ typically takes two forms. First, you recognize what role you play in the situation. Second, you explore how and what you need to change to have what you want. Then, the process of establishing new territory for yourself means you’re able to increase your threshold for discomfort and remain calm and curious in the face of it.
We make such shifts not just for the sake of changing. We make them so we can live with more agency as adults and improve the way we identify and relate to ourselves, others, and the world at large. As we stretch into making new choices and begin to incorporate different ways of relating to old patterns and issues, we release their hold over us. We also feel more flexibility in our responsiveness to life, with all its challenges and its possibilities.
So… Okay. If creating new territory includes some degree of discomfort, is it worth the effort?
As both a clinician and a lifelong participant in inner work, I say yes. I know firsthand the power of taking the leap of faith when guided by the right person — a mental health professional whose life experiences include an ongoing investment in their own inner work. Even with its discomforts, the effort of discovering new territory within myself has been an invaluable part of my personal growth and has helped to build my own chops as a clinician. You can make that leap, too!