Stephanie Victoire dives into her take of the phrase of the moment.
I come across a lot of people who talk about “doing the work”, and I’ve said it a few times myself when explaining that I’m on a soulful pursuit of healing and wisdom. When we hear others say that they’re “doing the work”, we usually assume that it’s within a spiritual context, using methods and practices of a spiritual nature to make some kind of meaning or purpose of life. We see it as a conscious choice to improve the self and evolve.
We also see doing the work as reading self-development books, deep-diving into natal charts, attending workshops and seminars, becoming plant-based, taking up yoga and seeking ‘like-minded’ people to connect with, which are all beautiful and very nourishing things to invite into our lives. But I have also heard this phrase inverted and cast upon a person who’s perceived as being difficult or challenging, “They’re clearly not doing the work,” is what it is chalked up to be, they are dismissed for not having these practices in their life.
What makes these judgements valid?
What is “doing the work” and what isn’t?
We refer to it as the work as opposed to my work, so does that mean the work is already laid out for us and we must complete each step like we are following a curriculum? Is the work done to earn the badges? Surely not, because if the goal is to be validated in the community or reach a certain level of authority just so that we can decide who’s doing the work and who isn’t, then aren’t we grossly missing the point?
Again. What do we mean when we say we are doing the work?
Working on ourselves so that we can heal our traumas, be more in our bodies, build upon self-care, self-love, to fulfil our purpose and our personal joy is brave and very beneficial; it is a very expansive path to follow. The bigger picture of this work is that by developing positive and elevating attributes within ourselves first, we serve others in countless ways.
Setting the intention to improve ourselves has a wonderful knock-on effect on our day-to-day tasks and our motivation to live life to its fullest. It has the potential to have the most positive impact on other people; daily interactions with strangers may have a domino effect of goodness – paying that good energx forward. To consciously choose to look at ourselves, means we get better at seeing others. Being more compassionate with ourselves means we are widening our compassion for the experiences of others. Paying attention to our communication and seeking our best expression means that we can connect with individuals with that better expression and broaden our space-holding for those who are in need of being heard. ‘The work’ builds empathy and that in itself, is arguably one of the best ways to be of service to this world.
Empathy is awareness; it is love, it is understanding, it is perspective, it is mindfulness, it is support, it is humanitarian.
Being of valuable contribution to a group, a community or to society at large, is very noble work and feeling the connection of it in a positive way is healing to us. I certainly remember my first circles and retreats many moons ago when there wasn’t yet an open enough space in society to sit down with others and discuss the patterns of our inner child wounding, or to speak freely about our realisations that seem to ‘drop in from above’. Finding this little slice of magic that existed amongst the few back then was like discovering the secrets to life. Being in a circle of open hearted people, all of us sharing our stories, was a relief; it made each of us feel less alone.
Humans are hard-wired to be tribal, to be storytellers, to gather and connect so that we may create a better way of living for each other, no matter how much the world has made us forget that. And now we’re in the masses, sharing what we feel is a cause, a movement we could say. So many of us are able to publicly share the power and magic this type of connection can bring – more of us holding this level of openness and compassion has the potential to make great, beautiful change.
But to assume that doing real honest work is only achieved through spiritual practices and modalities can hamper the cause, there is the risk of this beautiful community becoming elitist and exclusive.
We must be careful not to be condescending to those who might not know their moon and rising signs, or have never heard of Ayahuasca or Chakras before, or have never consciously sat and shared their feelings in a group. To say that they are not “doing the work”, is worrisome and quite frankly, dangerous; we are creating division instead of cohesion just with this mindset – it’s ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality, which is ironically the duality we think we’re abolishing by becoming spiritual.
A person may not listen to Abraham Hicks, but they might listen to classical music on the radio while driving because it is calming. One might think carrying crystals in your bra for the day sounds ludicrous, but that person might find their comfort by sitting by a favourite tree on their lunch break. Any act that helps us find our centre, and brings us closer to ourselves and reminds us of the good feelings available to us, is still part of the same journey.
So can we say that being spiritual and working on ourselves aren’t mutually exclusive?
And yet, sitting by a tree, or being carried away on a symphony, are spiritual methods; they may not be consciously thought of as such by many people, but the work is still happening. A chance to take a pause moment, reflect, realign, open up to nature, beauty and art, is soul-nourishing, and is paid forward in the same ways, I’m sure – energetically more than anything. And those of us who have had the joy and pleasure of tapping into more mystical experiences and inexplicable, but nevertheless, divine moments, will of course feel blessed to have discovered these ancient and sacred ways of accessing it.
So may I propose, we call it doing our work, instead of the work because ultimately it comes down to each and every one of us wanting to be better humans to one another (a tall order it feels, I know), but if we shut out those who do not understand our beliefs, then we, who claim we know better, haven’t upheld our end of the bargain of looking at us all as connected – we’re not practising what we preach.
No matter how each of us gets there, we are aware that there needs to be more kindness, compassion and love in the world. So if we are doing our part for humanity, then we’re accepting where everyone else is at with themselves. Yes, we can fast track our healing methods, but they mean nothing without the mindset to accompany them, the change is actually being blocked.
Our work is about getting us all there, to a balance, centeredness that calms minds, hearts and spaces daily. We give an ear when a voice needs to speak, we give a hug when comfort is sure to lift someone up, we let tears fall on our shoulders, we pacify and diffuse hostile energies and environments, we create stillness and breath, we inject life into what feels hopeless, we pulse through the world as an inspiration for what could be. I see being an evolved and benevolent human being, and the spiritually wise and well practised, as the same thing, but one does not beget the other, even though the goal is the same. It’s the ‘work’ we all must do; to experience the kindness, compassion and love we all need and are hoping for.
And in fact, who’s to say it is work anyway? We shouldn’t have to labour at finding the goodness in ourselves and others.
As tough and raw as my own healing journey has been along the way, magical tools like tarot cards, shamanic ceremonies, crystals, drum circles, plant medicine and astrology, and meeting those seemingly rare, humble, soft and loving humans, has undoubtedly brought me a deeper sense of having a connection to the whole universe and that which came before us. These rituals do add elements of pleasure, release and grace to the path, so let us share them with that same intention that led us to them in the first place: faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in the ones who teach us, faith in the ones still learning, and faith in the vision that so many of us want for the future – our future.