Yesterday I got to meet someone in person that has been doing a lot of internal work. I've been following her blog quite a bit and it was a real pleasure to talk with her about her practices as well as comparing some notes. She made an interesting comment, "I'm doing this work because now that I know what's inside my mind, I have to do it" That's paraphrased actually, but essentially she acknowledged that once she was aware of different issues it became her responsibility to deal with those issues. I agree. I feel a similar feeling of responsibility with my own issues. Once the ignorance is stripped away I can't not act on those issues. And that's why internal work is so essential to a magical path. It's not as glamorous or splashy as doing sigil work or some form of ceremonial magic or something similarly more focused on external reality, but internal work is what allows us to develop an appreciation of our place in this universe as well as our responsibility to it...and of course the internal work is linked to the external reality. The more you straighten yourself the less need you may find for doing some of the flashier forms of magic.
Over the last few years I've embarked on a journey of internal work which has progressively taken me both deeper into myself and deeper into the awareness of others around me as well as the environment. I've consciously come face to face with a lot of toxic behaviors. And I've managed to work through a lot of those behaviors. I still am working through others (the year long love work being an example of dealing with my toxic behavior patterns regarding love and sex). It's not easy work. Sometimes I've wanted to quit or hated what I've seen about myself and yet as I continue on this journey I feel more empowered each day by my choice to stay on it, by my acceptance to consciously change my life instead of acting out the same old patterns with the same results.
To me it's striking to consider who I was four or five years ago and who I am now. The differences are profound. Four/five years ago I was undisciplined, much quicker to anger and more inclined to hold a grudge and it really never benefitted me to do any of that. It usually just created more problems. And now, while I still have some ways to go with some areas of my life, I overall feel much more stable, clam, and focused. Life is getting better and less chaotic. And I don't feel nearly as uncontrolled as I used to because I've found the strength within myself to recognize my patterns and make changes for the better. Without that internal work, I have to admit I don't know where I would be.