Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the phrase "inner work"? It's a term one hears a lot around the Bay Area, usually in a thinly-masked judgmental way, such as "he or she is or isn't doing their inner work." As if the person pronouncing this diagnosis could know what was going on inside another human being!
Or, "If you are doing your inner work, you'll be okay when the big earthquake hits/you receive a terrible diagnosis/your pet/parent/lover dies/leaves." (This, by the way, is bullshit. No matter how much you meditate or eat tofu or visualize little green people, or whatever it is you do, dying is still scary, losing things is still painful, and people leaving you still sucks. Even for the Dalai Lama, who, I think we can all agree, is someone who has Done His Work--for many lifetimes. You don't get out of being human. Not if you were born in a body.)
I hate, hate, hate this expressions, which is almost a byword on the lips of most of my dear sweet super-conscious friends. When I hear someone talk about "inner work" I want to reach for the Ding Dongs and beer--and I don't even like beer! I want to watch World Wrestling Federation on TV. I want to go disrupt a seance.
Fuck "inner work." Just live your life and be as kind as you can. Reflection? Sure. Seeing where you are the author of your own problems? Bring it on. Apologizing when you've fucked up and hurt somebody? Absolutely. People have been doing this stuff all along. It's nothing fancy. It used to not be called "inner work." It used to be called "being a mensch", or, more negatively, "trying not to be too big of an asshole."
This is the philosophy I subscribe to. Try not to be too big of an asshole. If you make a mistake, apologize as quickly as possible, and make amends wherever you can. Repeat as often as necessary. That's it. The rest is commentary.
Calling your life "inner work" implies some kind of special spiritual heavy lifting that only the initiated few are special enough to participate in. There's something self-serving in it, as the implication is always that the person talking about "inner work" is of course doing it. It's like giving yourself a gold star. It implies that the guy who goes to work and comes home and watches a ball game and loves his family and is reasonably nice most of the time is somehow lacking. And that the New Age self-appointed prophet whose ethics and relationships are a mess has some kind of corner on integrity because they sit on a meditation cushion, or collect crystals, or get their chart done.
Personally, I'd rather hang out with the woman who picks up garbage at the side of the road than any "inner work" guru. I'd rather hang out with an eight-year-old. Or a gerbil. Or a pine tree, or a feral cat.