Oct 302008

NOTE: This is an article i returned to today i wanted to share; this corresponds with my current focus on connecting with myself, to better connect in other ways too.

Tools for Inner Work By Jack Rinella
for Issue number 11
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

At a recent seminar an attendee asked me how one deals with fear. It’s an important question and touches on an area of BDSM that we often neglect, which I call “inner work.”

Much of what we do has an effect on our psychological state, including emotions, self-esteem, and perception. Even though we may be into kink for fun, it is impossible not to note that the fun leads to these changes, if only because during the fun we feel better. If we didn’t feel better we wouldn’t be doing it would we?

Now I don’t think that the dungeon is the place where one should do inner work. Facing one’s issues is best left to times and places that are conducive to private reflection and calm reason. On the other hand, a player who never deals with his or her “issues” is most likely not to grow as a person and certainly won’t be able to grasp the true depths that can be found in doing what we do.

And yes, we all have issues, that is, areas of our lives that cause hurt, fear, and doubt; parts of ourselves that are wounded, hesitant, defensive, and/or aggressive. That, by the way, includes me.

So what are some of the ways to overcome our inner obstacles in order to reach our full human capacity? My answer to that attendee was to present this list. I hope it’s helpful to you:

Before I plunge into this list, I want to remind you that it is short and hardly has much detail to it. Each topic here could be a whole book in itself so you’d be well-advised to find out more about the topics that strike you as meaningful. For instance, you might want to get a book about journaling or meditating to give yourself a better idea as to how to use those tools.

Journal. It’s natural for me to suggest to keep a journal, since I’m a writer. For many people, writing is a means of self-expression wherein one can safely reflect and review one’s feelings. The good thing about keeping a journal is that doing so is safe, since it’s usually quite private. A journal also provides an opportunity to review one’s feelings over a longer period of time, thereby reducing the power of emotion in the moment while still crediting our feelings as one basis (and only one) for decision-making.

Share. Several of my “tools” are going to seem redundant, sharing being in that category. That is purposeful since each tool has its unique methodology. So I encourage people to have someone with whom they feel safe to share their inner selves, to unload. That person ought to be one who can handle the heat of your feelings without being threatened. In fact they may be a person who only listens, since we all need a willing ear. It may be best that they not be intimate with us, more a friend than a lover or partner.

Experiment. Allow yourself the chance to try things out without committing yourself for the long haul or the deep experience. Experimenting means to experience something in a controlled situation so that you can have some feedback as to how to proceed. It is a slow exploration, a putting one’s toe in the water so to speak. It doesn’t have to be a big plunge, just enough of an experience to give you something upon which to reflect.

Research. Find access to experts, either in seminars, through books or videos, or one on one and find answers to the serious questions that are on your mind.

Meditate. Learn the skills necessary to relax your mind, either through one of the many meditation programs or perhaps in something like a martial art program. You can do this through tapes, books, and seminars. Really it’s a matter of taking time for yourself, however you feel you want to do it.

Do Something Else. Sometimes it just helps to walk away from the problem for a short time. I do it all the time, such as when I garden or do carpentry. These breaks allow me to see the big picture of life and to stop being caught in the minutia of daily living. Keep in mind that what’s bothering you now probably won’t make much difference a hundred years from now, no matter how big the crisis seems at the moment.

Give Yourself Permission. Most of us are our worst critics. Having accepted the “you shoulds” that the world imposes upon us, we fail to accept the fact that we are who we are, and probably not whoever everyone else wants us to be. We don’t have to comply to others’ images of whom we ought to be. We only need to be our authentic selves, not necessarily an easy chore but one that is quite rewarding.

Look in the Mirror. When the wicked step mother asked the mirror who was the fairest of them all, she was using the mirror for the wrong purpose. Mirrors are meant to reveal the person looking into the mirror, not someone else. So I have used a mirror to look at myself and then to remind myself that what I see is a loveable and capable individual. Do I need to feel loved? Then I tell my reflection that I love the person I am seeing. After all, if I can’t love me, who can?

Ask Others, Yourself, and the Universe. No one says you have to do this inner work all by yourself. Seek help from competent counselors, from your inner self, and from the Universe. I often ask for help just before I fall asleep, by saying something like this? “Self, I’m going to sleep and I promise to listen to whatever you want me to know so that I can overcome this challenge and do what is best for myself.”

Dream. That, of course, leads us to the world of dreams. I don’t use dreams to tell the future as I believe dreams are simply a reflection of who we are and everyone in a dream is part of the dreamer. Dreams, then, have information about us in them. They are also great places to have experiences that will change our self-image and repair our past.

Enter into a Dialogue. Asking and sharing can be combined into a dialogue, a process of mutual reflection in which both parties respond to the communication from the other. It’s important that the dialogue be honest, non-threatening, and without expectations of what it will or will not accomplish. It probably needs to be long-term and on-going to be much good.

Make Diagrams: Pros and Cons, Ego and Self, Past and Future. I find value in making lists in two columns with the pros on one side, the cons on the other. One can use any approach for this. For instance you might want to make a list of the “worst that can happen” or “my wants versus my needs.” Just as in journaling, putting things in writing can help make their meaning and importance clearer.

With whatever tools you decide to grow, it is important that you be kind and gentle to yourself. How old are you? It took you that long to get here so don’t think that you’ll change your life overnight, unless of course you were born yesterday.

Have a great week. You can leave me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://leatherviews.c.topica.com/maakip5abFnx5bsM3Unb/ where you can subscribe to this column and receive it weekly. Copyright 2008 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.