Now do the Hard Thing: Go Inward

"I wish someone had told me that my journey had already started, and that my first real step, the hardest step, was to go inward. All I needed to do was sit and breathe, and discover my inner mentor, my source of inspiration. My North Star was inside me all along. But first I had to do the hardest thing. I had to tune out the external world and begin listening quietly. It took time and disciplined practice. Eventually my vision cleared and the journey became easier." 

-- Neurowolf

We all have a guiding star, but most of us don't start out knowing that. Awareness comes gradually. The light from our inner guide emerges when we make mistakes, when we reflect on them, when we begin seeing a pattern emerge.

In the beginning of your journey you may take your lead from people or causes you admire. You may even avoid veering from the path they have carved, afraid of the inevitable mistakes and stumbling that would follow. But eventually the urge may grow to choose your own destiny. With this urge comes the hardest part: Mustering the courage to act on it.  

The initial urge to find your own path comes from a curiosity about where you want to go in your life. Perhaps more importantly, you may ask yourself: Who am I NOW, and what version of me do I want to become? From this glimmering of curiosity, your awareness will grow as you listen, learn, and reflect:

  • Listen to your inner guide and try new things.
  • Reflect on your successes and failures.
  • Learn and grow as you gain insight from your reflections.

By repeating this process, you begin to trust yourself and your intuition. Your creativity grows as you learn more about what is possible.

Of course, your path will not be so simple. Exploration will bring challenges. You'll become aware of uncomfortable or disappointing things. You may have to dig up old disputes with dragons, or rediscover minefields you hoped to leave behind. Acceptance will become an important ally on your journey. Through the ARIA framework, Acceptance will provide you with tools to help you come to terms with the realities you encounter. 

Acceptance is a critical part of the first phase of the ARIA journey. By accepting reality as it is and not wishing it was different, you can learn what needs to be changed. This will allow you to set realistic goals. Awareness can help you assess what success means to YOU, based on the facts of your situation, and - most importantly - based on your values.  

At first, Acceptance can be difficult. But every time we lean on this ally and use a tool from its toolbox, we will find the process easier. We may begin our journey afraid of the information we might encounter. But very quickly, as we move through Awareness and work with the tools of Acceptance, we begin viewing problems as simply information. Neither good nor bad, information is simply helpful. This perspective allows us to become stronger and more resilient. 

Eventually, you will begin to see problems as a cue that it's time to level up. Embracing reality will help you grow stronger. You will begin to see your North Star more clearly. With this blending of Awareness and Acceptance, the next step of building Resilience becomes relatively easy. Awareness and Acceptance together will help you find the courage you need to begin moving forward.

The first few stages of the ARIA journey are never easy, but as you make your way through Resilience, you will gain powerful tools from your ally Resistance. These tools will help build your resolve, defeat any remaining ambivalence you might still have, and clear your way toward Inspiration.

Once you have made your way to Inspiration, hope and humor will empower you to move forward. Doors will open, both internally and externally, as you experience a broadening range of possibilities.

At this point, your inward journey will begin to turn outward. With Inspiration comes a new ally, Intention. Intention will provide engagement tools that will connect you with your North Star and take you forward into Action. This is where you will test out what works and what does not. This is where you begin to live the life you were intended to live. Your final ally, Accountability, will bring you full circle as you continue to learn and reflect with awareness, accepting what is - and embracing it with an open heart.

The ARIA journey varies in length based on where you are on your path, and where you have set your sights. Once you become familiar with the process and have a well-honed set of tools and power-ups in your kit, you can use ARIA in any situation. You can quickly maneuver around a small boulder in your path, or you can put on your ARIA armor, call out the Allies, and take on a full-fledged quest. Start practicing with the tools now, and be ready for anything! 


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