Do I really need to do “inner work” to be a systems changer? Anna Birney

Source: Do I really need to do “inner work” to be a systems changer?

Do I really need to do “inner work” to be a systems changer?

An exploration

I often share the resistance people have to doing their “inner work” — the process of deliberately changing yourself through bringing an awareness to what is happening inside you and how it affects what you do in the world — and ask myself surely we need to just get out there, change things and stop navel gazing!

Although I have been doing my own inner work for years (below see practices I draw from) I have been cynical about really publicising it as something that is needed for others. Over the last couple years however I have started to pay more attention to its effects and also of the effects of not doing the work by noticing how it shows up in my practice as a facilitator and coach.

Why is it important? What does it really mean?

Recently I was facilitating a dialogue that was trying to enable the group to move forward on a decision. I was noticing a lot of resistance in the room to the conversation and also to the process I was using. Through undertaking my ‘inner work’ I had come to realise one of my triggers — that is something that might cause us to feel emotional not by the current experience but because it takes you back to something else in your past — is when someone is rejecting a process or conversation, I start to want to overly please the criticiser, rather than paying attention to what is happening for the whole. This then affects the way I am facilitating and starts to lessen the ability of holding the space adapting and moving forward towards the outcome that might be needed. On this occasion I was able to noticed what was happening inside of me and realised that the issue was not really about me but about the dynamics in the room and I was able to keep my cool, not shut down the conversation and adapt the process but not based on needing to be liked — which over the years I now realise I have stumbled around, frozen (that is not knowing what to say or do) or got upset myself.

We are all a result of the society we are trying to change, and we need toexplore how we do not keep perpetuating the problems in our society. The issues that exist in the world also exist within us. Climate breakdown makes us confront our choices, issues of social justice our privilege and position, both dealing with our own behaviours, the despair it might bring and the part we play in the problem. To help people connect to the challenges we are facing we also need to connect with our own narratives — our authenticity perhaps — and how we come against the challenges — our vulnerability — so that we can support others.

Inner work allows us to connect with both what is happening in the room and in the context we are working within, to work with the energies and emotions that often sit below the conversations. As the person who is holding a space we need to connect to ourselves. This is not a process of becoming the master or the hero of these challenges but about working on yourself, to see ourselves a part of the system so that we can be in service of these bigger questions and issues.

Continues in source: Do I really need to do “inner work” to be a systems changer?