We both wish healing was a sprint. (But it’s a marathon.)

Winning at inner work is about small steps. It’s about pace, not speed. 

Winning at inner work is about small steps. It’s about pace, not speed. 

I was late, as usual. Dashing down the street, coat floating out behind me as I slip between the despondent lunch crowd. 

While my feet rush, my mind is luxuriating on the cafe. The warm wooden panelling, the quaint wooden seats and the dessert cabinet. 

Hmm, the dessert cabinet.

What kind of cake they would have? What would I get? Something with chocolate, definitely something with chocolate. 

I am about to slide cross a bonnet, when I hear a ding.

A cancellation. Cake is off. 


Head hanging low, I turn and dawdle in the direction of home.  

All of a sudden my body straightens, turns and starts marching back towards the cafe. 

What the…? 

I manage to regain control of my limbs and turn back.

But I only manage a few paces before it happens again.

Forward and back. Forward and back. I must have worn a hole in that 4 metre stretch of pavement

“Cake. No cake. Cake. No cake. ” my mind repeats. 

In the midst of the back and forth I dig a little deeper. There, in hiding, is disappointment. Sadness for the friend I was not going to see, for the conversation I was not going to have.  

And I was unconsciously trying to use cake to paste over that hurt.

Finally, I stop, take a deep breath, and say “thank you.”

“Thank you for letting me see the sadness that lies beneath, thank you, I’m proud of you.”

And then I walk to the cafe for cake. 


We want personal growth to be about speed. 

We feel the itchiness, the tension, the pain, the frustration, the longing. We see the change we need to make, and WANT IT NOW.

Unhappily, awareness is only the start of the process. 

We want speed, but to be free of the pain, longing, frustration, we must accept the pace. 

We crave the sprint, but we’re running a marathon. And the best marathon runners know how to pace themselves.

The pace set by our inner world, and the pace our external world can cope with.

We rail against the pace. 

Everyone on a healing journey does at least once. 

We want speed, but have to accept pace.

Healing requires pace because our bodies and our minds cannot heal everything all in one go. It only has so much healing and growth capacity at one time.

Healing requires pace because our ego can only take so much change at one time. If it feels overwhelmed, it rebels. It sabotages our efforts.


My ego is known for liking cake. 

It’s my ego’s preferred rewards for staying in discomfort just a little bit longer for the sake of deeper healing.

Eventually my ego will let go of the need for cake; eventually it will no longer need rewards for observation, inquiry and stillness.

But in a race of pace, rather than speed, where we work with our ego rather than force it into a situation where it needs to rebel and self-sabotage, cake is an important tool.

  • Cake means collaboration. 
  • Cake is acknowledgement that we are many parts.
  • Cake is communication and trust.
  • Cake is a great negotiating tool

Our ego wants to be known and seen. Just as you do. And only you can see it. 

Whatever your version of cake is, it will help you meet your ego at its pace. Which creates its own kind of speed. 

Reflection Questions

  • What do you wish would go faster in your inner work?
  • If you thought about your healing journey as a marathon, what would change?
  • What is your ego’s version of cake?
  • How do you use ‘cake’ to reward your ego for inner work?
  • What happens when you try to work against your ego rather than with it?