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The Inner Activist

By Kelly Ford

Inner activism is the alchemy of transforming your inner life and relationship with yourself in order to change the world.

As an introvert at heart, I find it challenging to pick up a banner and march with the crowd, shouting protests against something that’s happening in the world. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to know where to take action, and what action will actually make a difference. Would I be marching so I could feel good that I was doing something to resist the horrible atrocities happening across the globe? My experience is, if I resist something, I actually give power to the very thing I want to see change. If I don’t resist, but instead accept, then what? Does that leave me a passive observer doing nothing to help?

I do believe in outer activism — being active is important, but where we come from while we are being active is essential to increase our chances of a positive outcome. Gandhi is famous for having said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” My understanding of what Gandhi meant was to find peace within your own heart and take action in the world from a place of reconciliation within yourself. His response to the violence of his time was a powerful example of activism motivated from a place of peace within.

In alignment with Gandhi’s famous words, I propose we start our quest for change by being an “inner activist.” We have tremendous power to affect change in the outer world deep within our own interior. Modern physics shows this to be true. When we do the inner work of healing our anger, grief, trauma, and feelings of separation, we open the portals to the inner wisdom of the authentic Self which lies at our core. This gives us the opportunity to take action from a place of love, compassion, and balance, rather than coming out fighting.

There’s a beautiful gift contained within our personal reaction to an external event. Processing and healing our own reaction first helps create inner alignment and balance, affording us the opportunity to see things more clearly. You have to get clear within, before you’ll see clearly without! The resulting experience can be one of profound peace, understanding, compassion and a sense of authentic personal and universal power. In other words, you’ve cleaned the filter through which you’re viewing the situation, and can now respond from a place of clarity, giving you the opportunity to align with the wisdom within you and ask for guidance to right action. You might even find in certain circumstances that no action is needed at all. I have often noticed after doing the inner work of healing within myself, the external world tends to shift in some way, and no action at all is required on my part.

Here’s an example from my own life. Several years ago while living on a large ranch with a boarding kennel, I noticed three very aggressive pit bulls. Their presence was very disturbing to me and after watching their behavior for several days, I reached a point of intolerable frustration. I sat down and did some free writing to see what might be going on inside of me. Without going into all of the sordid details, for the next 50 minutes I spewed onto paper copious amounts of anger, frustration, rage, and judgment. That process led to a dialogue with my tender, younger self, and a profound healing with this precious part of me. Amazingly, within 10 minutes of completing this process, the pit bulls were picked up by their owner. The timing of these aggressive dogs leaving the property was uncanny; it felt as if I had experienced something quite miraculous. At that point, as I looked around the kennel I noticed sweet dogs and even a couple of playful, loving puppies!

Change yourself and you have done your part in changing the world. Every individual must change his own life if he wants to live in a peaceful world. The world cannot become peaceful unless and until you yourself begin to work toward peace.
— Paramahansa Yogananda

If you’re willing to shift your focus inward regarding a current external situation that is creating upset feelings inside you, then you can ask yourself a key question. I learned it from my professors at the school for Spiritual Psychology:

If outer reality is a reflection of inner reality, what is this person/situation mirroring back to me about myself?

When you ask yourself this, approach your response with curiosity: “I wonder what this process will reveal to me.” Set an intention to have an “Aha!” moment, to discover something you didn’t know was going on inside of you.

Don’t underestimate the power of doing the inner work as your first response to events happening in the world. In the human experience, we have fragmented ourselves due to rejecting those parts of ourselves we have judged as unacceptable. These disowned parts often show up as characteristics we find intolerable in others. This is an opportunity to bring what was unconscious to conscious awareness, to bring what was hiding out in the dark corners of our own heart to the light of day.

I have experienced profound moments of peace and wholeness after identifying and integrating a hidden aspect of my consciousness. I believe this is the peace Jesus spoke of that surpasses all understanding. As a result of these moments, my spiritual practice has been to work with my life experiences as a mirror into my own consciousness.

In order to heed Gandhi and Paramahansa Yogananda’s words, we must do the inner work of cultivating a peaceful relationship with ourselves and consequently with all of life.

Our pessimism about the world is the mirror image of our indictment of ourselves. If we have not learned to hold our own fears gently, how can we look with compassion at the world we live in? When we embrace our own darkness and find the light within, we are no longer intimidated by a world in which violence seems to prevail, for we understand that this is but a symptom of the separated self.
— Paul Ferrini


Kelly Lynn Ford received her master's degree in Spiritual Psychology, and certification in Consciousness, Health & Healing from the University of Santa Monica (USM). She holds a Bachelors of Science degree with an emphasis in Psychology and Sociology, and has an extensive background in the mental health field as a rehabilitation counselor and case manager.

Identifying and owning projections, as discussed in this article, is a process she learned during her education at USM. Kelly experienced such life-transforming results from this process, that working with her consciousness in this way became her spiritual practice. She found that this approach often shifted long-standing patterns and created powerful, lasting transformation in her relationships and in her life.

Click here to read Kelly's blog. You can email Kelly here.

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 6: Ancestral Healing Summit