I think the hardest aspect of internal work is when you face the root of the issue that you're working on.. On one hand, you now know what you're really dealing with. On the other hand, you're also faced with the question of, "Now what?" I was thinking of that today as I walked around the local park, working through an issue that I've been struggling with the last couple of weeks. I generally find in doing internal work that there are four stages that occur. The first stage is a sudden realization that something is bothering you. You can't quite pinpoint what it is that's bothering you beyond dealing with the immediate experience that you're involved in. That immediate situation is really just a symptom of the actual problem. It definitely needs to be addressed, but chances are it's based on a behavior pattern that can really deep into the past. It's a reaction to the original core issue...but you don't know what that issue is yet...you can identify characteristics...I feel jealous about X or this made me angry, which comes in handy later on, but the symptom is just that...it's a symptom...it's pain's it's something sending a message that something is wrong. Once you've dealt with the symptom, you still have a ways to go.
Stage 2 is digging. You start comparing the characteristics of the latest situation with the characteristics of previous situations where you suspected you acted in a similar manner. For instance, if you found yourself competing with someone because you felt jealous, you would look in your past for related incidents with other people. By finding a relationship, you could then begin to trace the issue back to the root cause of it.
Stage 3 is discovery of the root cause, or if you will the root emotion. For instance, just because you feel jealousy in incidents where you compete with someone, you shouldn't assume that jealousy is the motivating emotion. Remember, it's a symptom, so while jealousy is an emotion in its own right, it may just be a symptom of what you're feeling at your core. Perhaps, for instance, you are competing and feeling jealous because you really want to feel acceptance from other people. Acceptance is definitely not the same emotion as jealousy, but it can inspire jealousy depending on how acceptance is obtained. Once you know what the root cause is, you're at the now what stage. You've identified the root problem, and you're consciously aware of it. Congratulations! But now you have to figure out what you will do with what you've discovered. This can be hard to figure out, because you're also facing what really motivates the behavior you want to change and facing that root cause can be a bit of a doozy.
Stage four is figuring out what you'll do now that you know what's motivating your behavior. You've got a few options:
A. Do nothing. This might seem like the easiest, but unless you are completely comfortable with the behavior and the consequences that result from it, this will come back and bite you in the ass until you decide to really make a change.
B. See a therapist. Working with a therapist can help you explore these issues safely with another person present. Also the therapist will to some degree hold you accountable to make a change. This option can be combined with option C
C. Utilize a form of mindful awareness to consciously monitor yourself. This is greatly enhanced by pathworking, meditation, energy work, or some other form of internal work. This can be done without option B, though I'll note this can be tough work and will challenge you because as you dissolve the issues, you also leave room for more subtle issues to rear their head. I recommend that if you choose to do only this option that you also make sure that you know you can stop and see a therapist at any time. Don't go deeper than you are comfortable with. I will note that using meditation and mindful awareness for the last three and a half years has definitely helped me dissolve a lot of unhealthy behaviors, but it's been intense work and sometimes fairly wearing. I know what keeps me focused on doing it is the awareness that as I continue to do this work, I am getting healthier and happier and I consciously know what informs my choices.
I am still doing a lot of internal work. The stages I described here, are pretty accurate to the kind of work I've been doing. Internal work isn't necessarily glamorous or something very overt. It doesn't require much in the way of magical tools, or sigils, but the payoff I think is that you are more conscious of your choices and can control yourself more readily...and the need to do magic to solve problems actually goes down because you're no longer acting out your unhealthy behaviors.