True fulfillment comes from within.
Inner work has been defined as the psychological and spiritual practice of diving deep into your inner self for the purposes of self-exploration, self-understanding, healing, and spiritual transformation.
I know, you’re a pragmatic and logical individual who avoids “woo-woo” like the plague — and I’m with you.
I like things that I can understand based on evidence, explore logically, and tie results to actions. So, this is not an article about reciting positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror, hoping for some magical personal transformation. (No offense to anyone else who does that).
This is an article to discuss the real and tangible benefits that men can enjoy by doing real introspection and exploration of self in order to better understand their own feelings, ambitions, emotions, and needs.
You’re the type of guy who wants “real results”…? Then inner work is definitely for you. You’ll make more money, feel happier, build healthier relationships, excel further in your career, and live a generally more fulfilled life.
What changes will you notice in yourself as this work begins to…well…work?
1: You’ll gain more clarity around your identity and purpose.
Perhaps the most impactful conversations I ever have with my coaching clients is around their identity and purpose.
I say this to every single person I coach:
If you hear me say ‘identity and purpose’ once, you’ll hear it a million times.
I focus so deeply on these concepts because I believe every decision we make on a daily basis is in accordance with…you guessed it…identity and purpose.
Your identity drives your actions. For example, if you identify as an athlete but you sit around eating pizza all day and never train, work out, or practice…you’re going to feel a deep sense of inner conflict because your actions are out of alignment with your identity.
Therefore, an athlete makes decisions that an athlete would make. This is how they maintain their identity, and it shows they remain driven by it.
We cannot, however, make decisions in accordance with our identity if we don’t know what it is. Or, what we want it to be.
That’s why doing inner work can help us to connect with ourselves and ask the most difficult question of all: Who am I?
2: You’ll experience a wider range of emotions.
The human experience is varied and diverse. The terrains we navigate every single day in our personal and professional lives can be unpredictable and dynamic — and sometimes, we try to shield ourselves from the negative aspects by pretending they don’t bother us.
We dilute or water down our emotional responses in order to protect ourselves from pain or trauma.
By doing so, we’re actually stunting the human experience itself. We’re shutting off parts of our brain that, if acknowledged, could actually be useful.
Think of it this way: Our ancient ancestors needed to feel things like pain and fear. These are necessary to survival and help anticipate danger, or avoid further pain.
In other words, you can’t fight against something if you keep your eyes closed.
By being willing to accept, feel, and explore our full emotional range, we learn how to manage them and more fully experience all aspects of life.
Sometimes, this includes pain, yes. But, pain can help us learn and grow. It can help us avoid more of it in the future. It can teach us about places we should (and shouldn’t) be in life.
Not to mention the more vibrant and euphoric high points that we can fully step into if we have unlocked the emotions necessary to do so.
3: You’ll balance your heart and your mind.
A lot of men try to approach their relationships in the same way they approach business. They try to map things out, set a strategy, anticipate responses, overcome objections…
Until, your partner starts to feel like you’re talking to them like a client.
Or, you start to get frustrated that the same formula in the boardroom doesn’t work in the bedroom.
Relationships (intimate or otherwise) are more emotional than they are logical. Hell, even business is more emotional than it is logical, we just don’t like to admit it.
If two people call you with the same exact business offer, whose offer will you choose?
The person you like more.
Because all interactions are made between humans. It’s not B2B or B2C, it’s H2H…human to human.
That being said, the ability to use both heart and mind in all areas of life is the key balance to making the right decisions.
You can’t approach either your personal or professional life with all heart or all logic. There must be a balance.
Doing the inner work helps you connect with yourself so you can better connect with others. You can recognize their inner-most wants, needs, and desires. You can recognize your own, so you can then make decisions that best suit them.
And, you can craft your approaches to best suit others, as well.
4: You’ll respond, rather than react.
There is a big difference between these two things.
When you respond, you are deliberate and intentional about your actions. You can be thoughtful and pointed in the steps you take before you speak or take action.
When you react, you’re in a more frantic state and your sympathetic nervous system enters fight or flight mode.
Doing the inner work, and both points 2 and 3 above put you in stronger and deeper touch with the thought processes that drive your responses.
Thus, you manage them, rather than them managing you.
5: You’ll stop seeing everyone as an enemy.
Why is it that some men seem to constantly be involved in conflict? It’s almost as if they’re looking for it.
Sometimes, I think, they are.
It might not even be intentional — but a result of their mindset and perspective on the world.
Quite simply put, they think everything and everyone is out to get them.
As a result, they’re always on the defensive. They snap to action, react rather than respond, and constantly need to squash the aggressor, even if it only exists in their mind.
The world, however, is not out to get you.
In fact, showing up with a more open, authentic, calm, and positive demeanor can quite often draw people and opportunities to you en masse. Almost to the point where you’ll feel like the world is out to help you.
And, it just might be — because you cultivated the emotional maturity and peace in order to set out to help it, first.
6: You’ll attract better people into your life.
What happens when you’re more well-adjusted, more at peace, more connected to your identity and purpose? (See? There it is again).
What happens is that your energy and presence begins to draw similar people to you. You start doing things you’re passionate about, going to places that reflect your interests, having more patience, empathy, and showing up with more kindness on a regular basis.
I promise you that if you do this on a big enough scale, people will take notice and become drawn to you.
You attract empathy by first expressing it.
You inspire acts of kindness by first performing them.
You receive love by first being willing to give it.
You shine light into the storm like a beacon for those who are searching for you, because they are like you — but they can’t ever find you if that light remains turned off. It must shine from within, and you need to look there in order to turn it on.
You don’t attract what you desire, you attract what you project.
7: You’ll enjoy a healthier sense of self-worth.
Arguably the most important benefit of all, because it can influence all of the others.
Self worth — how you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself.
This dictates what type of treatment you accept from others, what types of people you date, what types of jobs you accept, and how quickly you distance yourself from negative people and situations.
It protects you against other peoples’ bullshit.
It sets and maintains your boundaries.
It determines how much you value your physical and mental health.
Your self-worth acts as a barometer in almost every part of your life, and if you don’t do the inner work to calibrate that barometer, it’s going to go haywire.
It’ll make those decisions for you — and probably not good ones.
It’ll bring the wrong people into your life. It’ll settle you into shitty jobs with shitty pay and shitty bosses.
It’ll land you shitty clients for your business.
It’ll send you shitty people to date.
And, the worst part is, you’ll accept all of it.
Why? Because you have a low level of self worth and don’t think you deserve any better.
If this stings a little bit — good. It’s a sure sign that you need to focus more on your inner work in order to boost your self worth, which will raise up everything else in this article along with it.
You get to choose the life you want to live, the people you want to surround yourself with, the opportunities you want to accept, and the person you want to become.
The more inner work you do, the better decisions you’ll make along the journey. It all starts with you.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.