Assessment : Mastering the Inner Game

“No one can compete with you when you’re being yourself.”  --The Way of Harmony   

The material in this article comes from The Way of Harmony: Walking the Inner Path to Balance, Happiness, and Success (Avon Books), which has drawn wide praise for its clarity, its inspiring stories, and the practical way in which it shows readers how to embody self-realization within the context of success in the world of relationships, work, money, and daily life.

Jim Dreaver, DC has been a leading chiropractic expert in mind/body integration for twenty years. He regularly speaks at major conferences addressing issues of body, mind, and spirit, and teaches at Esalen Institute and other venues where the focus is on the development of human potential, personal mastery, and organizational transformation.

In addition to The Way of Harmony, Jim Dreaver is the author of The Ultimate Cure, a book about transformation, and Somatic Technique, a guide to mind/body integration. He has been teaching in the fields of healing, stress-management, personal mastery, and leadership development for twenty years.If you would like more information about results-guaranteed training, retreats, and personal coaching in the Seven Gates and the path to Fearless Leadership.

E-Mail:  Web:

Jim Dreaver. 450 Pitt Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472, USA.  Tel: +1 707 823-1640

Stress and conflict are endemic to our society. We worry about money, deadlines, unresolved conflicts at work and home, job security, our health, family issues, relationship problems, and whether or not we are doing what we really want to do in life.

Even when we feel full of confidence and self-assurance we are often only that way because we are winning at the outer game of life and work. In other words, we feel good because things are going well for us. Unless we have mastered what I call the “inner game,” then should we experience a reversal of circumstances, should things take a turn for the worse, our confidence will inevitably falter, and turn into self-doubt and anxiety.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to play successfully in life and at work without the stress and conflict that most people live with on a daily basis. There are two basic rules for mastering the inner game, for engaging life and work in a way such that, regardless of what is happening outwardly, regardless of whether fortune is currently moving in our favor or not, we always feel essentially relaxed, clear, and at peace within ourselves.

Rule #1 : Develop An Alert, Relaxed Sense of Presence

Heightened mind/body awareness is the key to relaxation and presence. As we breathe deeply and consciously, learn to release tension in our muscles, and bring our focus out of our head, into our body, into an awareness of our immediate environment, we find ourselves naturally more alert and at ease in the present moment. Presence itself is the source of our physical energy, power, and charisma. It is the key to seeing the facts of any situation with clarity, to making the best decisions, and to taking the right action.

An alert, relaxed sense of presence brings us into harmony with the natural rhythms and changes, the inevitable ups and downs of life, so that we are not struggling against reality, the way things are. We are more balanced, centered, in the flow. We instinctively know when to stand firm, and when to yield; when to move forward, and when to pull back; when to speak, and when to listen. At the same time, we find it easier to manifest our goals and dreams into reality, because our creative energy is no longer being inhibited by the fear of loss or failure that inevitably looms when we worry about the future.

Our ability to be relaxed and present greatly improves the flow of communication between ourselves and others.  It is easier to speak the truth, because we’re no longer caught up in trying to defend or justify our ego, in the need to be “right”--which is the mark of an insecure ego. With less focus on ourselves and our own agenda, we are more genuinely interested in listening to others. We want to know what they think and how they feel. This kind of openness and honesty establishes trust. It is the key to resolving conflicts and building a strong sense of teamwork, of partnership, both at work and at home.

Rule #2 : Know Who You Are

Self-knowing begins with knowing our own strengths and liabilities. Ultimately, though, it is knowing who we are beyond all our beliefs and ideas about who we are, beyond the “story” we have created about who we are.

In my book, The Way of Harmony, I call the shift that facilitates true self-knowing the core insight, an idea which has its roots in many wisdom traditions. It is seeing that we are not our story, our personal history. The world between our ears that we “think” is who we are, and that gets expressed in the mind and body as conflict, stress, and tension, is not who we really are. The more we learn to be present, expand our awareness, and see the inner drama for the self-created illusion it is, the more it drops away. Meaning and fulfillment no longer depend on what we think, have, or even do, but stem from the aliveness, the joy, the fullness of being that vibrates in our very cells in each and every moment.

Freed of the psychological and emotional component--the incessant concern with “me, myself, and I”--thinking becomes available as the powerful creative tool that it is. We use thinking, in other words, but we are no longer at the effect of our thoughts. This inner clarity gives us access to a constant stream of wisdom, intuition, and guidance, and what we are here to do--our unique mission, purpose, and destiny in life--becomes very, very clear.

Changes, of the kind which throw most people into crisis, cease having the power to upset us, other than momentarily. If upset does occur, we remember to breathe and be present, and we recover our equanimity quickly. The authenticity, spontaneity, and sheer goodwill we then bring to each moment will inspire the highest and best in others.

Through mastering these two basic rules of the inner game, we influence the outer game in a whole new way. We create truly conscious, harmonious, and productive relationships, both in our personal life and at work.

© Jim Dreaver, 2000

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