Inner Work Reveals & Heals Life is Always Inviting Our Learning

Image used with permission from The Accidental Monarch by Paul Bond Fine Art

Know Justice, Know Peace: A Transformative Journey of Social Justice, Anti-Racism and Healing through the Power of the Enneagram is not a book I would ordinarily read. I was so taken with the author, Deborah Egerton, Ph. D and her presence, it called for my attention. 

The enneagram is a brilliant and ancient spiritual system, which I use to reveal insights into an individual’s soul growth and learning opportunities in this life. I have found it to be an incredibly valuable tool to support the spiritual coaching I do with my clients. 

Social Justice, inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism on the other hand, are subjects I knew very little about. In just reading the foreword from Russ Hudson, co-founder of The Enneagram Institute, I was already shrinking with shame because he was talking about our conditioned response patterns which I had, minutes earlier, witnessed in myself. On the heels of beginning this book, I had just verbally lashed out with sarcasm, toward a perfect stranger.

My abrupt sarcasm was because of an assumption I made. My assumption was a reaction to conditioned programming connected to a deep seeded pattern of “not-enough-ness”. As a spiritual teacher of love and consciousness, it feels pretty vulnerable to be sharing this, but it’s true.

I took a deep breath, loving myself through my own difficult feelings. I could feel a tiny relief and some self-acknowledgement when Russ points out “beneath all our clumsy triggers, which occur due to conditioned responses, our core essence, is still perfectly intact. There is an inherent goodness in all Beings despite our missteps. Despite our clumsy conditioned reactions. Despite our human nature.

Here in “Club Human”, no matter who you are, no matter where you’ve come from, no matter your history, your lineage, your upbringing, your sexual preference, financial status or color of your skin. No matter what you’ve done or haven’t done. We ALL have an inherent intelligence inside of us, that is rooted in unconditional love. I call it Original Wisdom. 

We are at a time on the planet right now when including our Original Wisdom in every room, in every exchange, in every conversation, in every interaction supports humanity in living in peace, unity and harmony. It supports humanity in continuing its existence on this planet.

We can access and experience our Original Wisdom by doing our own inner work. Which is not for the faint of heart. Yet, it’s likely less painful than killing each other which continues to take place on this planet as the wheel of karma turns and again and again, and the lesson still is missed. 

Russ suggests that in doing real meaningful inner work we need to #1) Being willing to see ourselves as we are. #2) To be more Present and awake in the moment and #3) Develop the ability to really see our programmed behavior. 

I had just done that because I was willing to be honest with myself that my behavior was not okay, that stranger deserved an apology, and I knew this was something inside of me that was calling for healing. As I read Russ’s 3-point strategy, I felt a flush of relief wash over my shame. 

The benefit to seeing and witnessing “our programmed behavior” for what it is, gives me pause. It makes me ask myself, “is this really who I am?” I am a loving, open, compassionate, caring and thoughtful women. This is the part of my personality that I would like to engage with more fully in all areas and situations in my life. When we are willing to look at ourselves, we can get honest about taking a deeper level of responsibility for our part and those inner perceptions that are calling for evolution. 

As someone who is in the now in her 10th consecutive year of deep inner work, due to the help of many incredible teachers, allies and friends I have been able to heal a lot of my conditioned programming which has allowed me to more fully embody my true expression and show up for what my soul came here to grow through in this life. It’s allowed me to examine where some of my behavior began, to correct any misunderstandings in my consciousness and to heal the parts of myself that feel “less than”. Doing inner work has given me the strength and permission to forgive myself for my own clumsy misunderstandings. It’s allowed me to admit I have misunderstandings to begin with.

Doing inner work is our willingness to open ourselves to our unconditional loving higher self –our Original Wisdom – and to experience our pain being washed away with the higher revelation and experience of the inherent goodness inside each one of us. Doing the inner work brings more compassion and understanding to our sweet selves which then flows outward to everyone we encounter on the journey we all make, as spiritual beings walking this epic human adventure.

As I continued onward with Know Justice, Know Peace emotion was present inside of me as I felt more embarrassment and shame evident as I began to willingly admit to myself, by page 4, that when it had to do with the social hierarchy of power, position and privilege as Dr. Deborah Egerton articulates it, I’ve closed my eyes. When it came to othering, I didn’t understand it was a thing. 

Until I was willing to look. 

As the white daughter of Italian American immigrants, I am grateful to have not grown up with some of the prejudices that were evident in my household. While I’m certainly not perfect, I am grateful for the inner knowingness that no matter who you were or where you came from, we are the same. We are all spiritual Beings on an epic human journey. But to understand the history and perspective of humans that were not “like me” is an invitation to grow and evolve in consciousness.

I was aware I had a very important book in my hands and that it was an invitation to more healing, learning and growing. I was aware I was being invited to work with pain inside myself I had not wanted to look at before because of fear.

Fear of being seen as ignorant. 

And that in and of itself, is a judgment. Culture has made ignorance a dirty word although not everyone has the same fair shot to obtaining knowledge and education. Society has taught us to deaminized people who show ignorance. I forgive myself, for judging myself as ignorant. The Truth is, I am ready to see now. The Truth is, I am ready to heal the things that have kept me separated. The Truth is, I can let go of the past and begin anew today.

Yet, whatever label we assign, underneath all the programming and conditioning, underneath what we think we know, or we don’t, everyone possesses Original Wisdom. 

Before I published my book, Original Wisdom: Harness the Power of the Authentic You, I had several people read it and give me feedback. I was beyond grateful to my friend Ed who gently pointed out that I used the phrase, “call a spade a spade”. In my mind, I honestly thought the phrase referred to a deck of cards. Until I slowed down to really examine what I had written, only then could I take responsibility for my own naivete and obliviousness. 

In that moment, I had a choice. I could side with pride, pushing down my embarrassment and pretending “I knew better”. Had I done that, I would have just buried the shame which holds in place the excuse for “not knowing.” Because, I know allowing these uncomfortable emotions to surface, and to love myself through it, as it’s happening, is the key to removing the blocks preventing me from residing in my Original Wisdom. 

As Deborah talks about The Importance of Inner Work, under a section called A Flawed Historical Context she writes,

“The revolving door of racism and othering is perpetrated by our early influences and fueled by our implicit biases. The system and our learned behaviors are not easily changed or consciously addressed. One must be mindful of when and how we look into our actions and uncover the root cause of why we established them in the first place. Most of the time we are not given the opportunity to step back and explore our implicit biases; our society is on autopilot, living each day without having to wake up to the real world, let alone how flawed and engineered our existence has become.” 

Waking up to our true essence, our true magnificence, our true inherent essential nature is the answer. It’s time to stop blaming our parents, our teachers, our governments, our culture and our society. It’s time to Be the Change and to take responsibility for our own healing and upliftment. As we experience the altitude of this authentically, unconditionally loving place inside every single human on this planet, we truly do realize, we are all one. We are in this together. And healing these deep inner wounds is key in humanities survival.

So, how do we do that? 

We do our inner work to undo all the programming we’ve received and as Deborah shares, 

The Platinum Rule does not assume sameness but rather that we pause, breathe and prepare ourselves to learn something new through a compassionate and respectful approach to different perspectives. 

I learned reading Know Justice Know Peace, the Platinum Rule is –treat people the way they want to be treated. 

Deborah goes on, “to learn about the Platinum Rule, we must learn about differences and move away from being locked into binary and dualistic thinking. Our differences can be a cause for growth and celebration vs stagnation and irritation.

I can attest firsthand that Know Justice, Know Peace: A Transformative Journey of Social Justice, Anti-Racism and Healing through the Power of the Enneagram is, in fact; a personal healing experience of learning, growing and lifting my awareness in a way that has invoked personal evolution inside of myself. Reading this book is a healing journey.

I grew up believing that I wasn’t very smart. That was not only my parents projecting their stuff onto me, but it was also because I have a terrible memory, was a slow reader and an experiential learner. In the 1970’s in my sheltered Connecticut education was about memorization and regurgitation. For me it was difficult, and I struggled.

As I’ve spent much of my life trying to prove myself, my worth and value by gaining measurement outside of myself with approval and validation from others, that strategy consistently turned up more feelings of discomfort and did not result in healing or growth at all. Once I began to really “own” these misunderstandings, learn how they came to be, only then was I able to begin to sort through what is true and not true and to love myself wholly and anyway, no matter what. I still may never be the smartest person in the room, but I know there is an authentic wisdom within me.

I was only able to do this and to free myself from the harmful programming of the past, by actually doing the inner work.

In the conclusion of her book, Deborah talks about “the true power of inner work”, which resonates with me on a deep level based on my own experience and the healing power I have experienced directly as I’ve allowed the love of the Divine to be Present through the work I am doing. Deborah refers to this in the last chapter when she says, “The divine was present in the details of the inner work.” 

We are not alone, friends. We are not doing the inner work by ourselves. This, I promise you.

While understanding the complexities and dynamics of social justice, inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism continues to be an opportunity for deeper learning and understanding I continue within myself, the stand I clearly take is for inner work. 

I can attest firsthand that this book is, in fact; a personal healing experience of learning, growing and lifting one’s awareness in a way that invoked personal evolution inside of me. This healing journey is a beautiful and gentle invitation to take a deeper more honest look at oneself and is a guide for doing the inner work using the brilliant ancient system of the Enneagram. Deborah’s honesty, courage and expertise provide a solid foundation on which true healing takes place. Beyond just her words, there is a transmission of Loving and Peace that comes through these pages. At this time in the world, I can think of nothing more important.  

Please join me, Deborah, and millions of other people around the world that hold a vision, as Deborah says, to see and experience a world where love, value, respect, dignity and equity are available to all. Deborah poses the question to her readers, “What am I willing to do to make the world a better place for future generations?”

I am willing to continue doing my inner work. How about you?

Deborah Threadgill Egerton is an internationally respected psychotherapist, an IEA Accredited Professional with Distinction, a certified Enneagram teacher, a best-selling author, and an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism) consultant, coach, and spiritual teacher. To learn more Her book Know Justice Know Peace; A Transformative Journey of Social Justice, Anti-Racism and Healing through the Power of the Enneagram can be found on Amazon.

 By Donna Bond, M.A. © 2023