Are you an outside inner or an inside outer? It seems the vast majority of us live from ‘outside in’ as opposed to ‘inside out’. But we don’t know it! We don’t realise it’s one of the primary causes of an unhappy and unfulfilled life. But why?
Why have so many of us learned to live life the wrong way round?
Once upon a time there was a little new born babe called YOU! When you arrived YOU had no idea, no awareness, that there even was an inside and an outside of YOU. In the innocent purity of your consciousness YOU were unaware of anything being separate from anything else. YOU just saw and felt a world, THE world, as one. In your awe at the world everything was a wonderous ‘insperience’ taking place within your consciousness. But YOU weren’t aware of that. YOU didn’t think, ‘This is all happening in me”! YOU, life, the world, everything, were just…awesomely ONE!
Inserting the Programme
But it wasn’t long before the ‘conditioning of separation’ would begin. Gradually, as YOU started to use your physical senses of sight and touch, YOU would learn that people and things are separate from you. Those big people called parents, along with any big brothers or sisters, would start to teach YOU how to perceive both ‘separateness and difference’, how to place more emphasis on ‘particular’ things and people. This would inevitably induce many moments of perplexity and disorientation as they tried to guide YOU into their way of perceiving the world!
They were in the process of inserting a programme into your consciousness called The REAL World Is Outside of YOU! This wasn’t wrong or right, it just happened. They were only passing on what they had also learned.
They taught YOU the language of words and labels and that meant separate names for separate things. YOU began to make connections, discern relationships, between things and people, between people and people and between things and other things! Early forms of ideas and concepts started to crystalize in your mind and slowly your perception became conditioned to perceive a world full or separated objects, places and people. So far so obvious!
This was then underlined and reinforced by one word that was frequently repeated in your presence. That word was ‘important’, as those big people would point outwards and say that is ‘more important’ than this, and this is ‘more important’ than that. So YOU started prioritizing things in the world ‘out there’. As YOU did you started to ignore and avoid what YOU ‘learned to believe’ was not so important in the world…out there!
The ‘How do I Look?’ Moment!
As YOU watched their behaviours YOU learned their ways of behaving, and as YOU listened to their fears and anxieties, YOU learned to be fearful of the same things. Reality was becoming fully and firmly ‘out there’. And an scary one at that!
All the while others would increasingly comment on your appearance, on how YOU looked on the outside and how YOU dressed your body! Then, one fateful day, as YOU looked in a mirror, YOU created the belief that YOU were an appearance, an image that could be enhanced and improved. YOU became increasingly concerned about how YOU looked forthe benefit of others. That would eventually result in spending time and money in making sure YOU looked ‘pleasing’ to others.
It wasn’t long before YOU started to compare your self with others ‘out there’, eventually admiring and aspiring to be and look and even live like others. Then, when someone showed their pleasure at seeing YOU look or act in a certain way YOU started to believe that YOU could make others happy. This would eventually grow into a belief that YOU were somehow ‘responsible’ for others happiness. And so YOU would become, to some extent or other, a ‘people pleaser’ thereby becoming dependent on others to do and say what YOU believed would make YOU happy too! Now YOU really were living from outside in.
Then it was off to school where the emphasis would be on learning to understand the world ‘out there’, on how amazing the world ‘out there’ is, and how the history and geography of the world ‘out there’ were far more important than what YOU thought or felt or decided ‘in here’. Chemistry and physics would add to the illusion that learning about how the world ‘out there’ worked was of paramount importance to your future success and therefore happiness in life.
It would not be long before YOU would find it hard not to enter the world of entertainment every day. A keyboard and a keypad gave you instant access to the world ‘out there’ and to people in far away places, also way out there… somewhere! Your eyes and ears would be subject to an onslaught of stimulating sights and sounds. YOU started to believe that the stimulations that aroused the ‘pleasure’ of the senses was the only way to know happiness, and therefore your happiness was always to be sought and found ‘out there’ somewhere.
How to Recognize an ‘Outside Inner’!
Inevitably, YOU started to show all the signs and symptoms of someone trying to live their life from ‘outside in’.
The First Symptom – The belief that the primary reality is OUT THERE
This begins to show up in an inability to find an adequate description of your own emotions and feelings. Almost all your ‘self talk’ and ‘talk time’ with others will be about …others ‘out there’, or about what is happening in the world. About how you expect someone or something in the world to stimulate you and create your feelings for you!
The Second Symptom – Attachment to people and possessions OUT THERE.
YOU spend much of your life in the various forms of worry and anxiety about the people and things ‘out there’ that YOU fear losing, or fear being affected in some way.
The Third Symptom – Dependency on someone or something OUT THERE
YOU are always looking to someone or something in the world on which to base your sense of security and happiness for just a few moments (people pleasing) or for an entire lifetime (an exclusive relationship).
The Fourth Symptom – Blaming someone or something for loss, or for getting in the way of what you want, OUT THERE
YOU notice one of the many faces of anger frequently arising in the form of irritation, frustration or resentment towards someone of something ‘out there’. YOU believe and perceive them to be ‘in the way’ of what you believe you need from the world to maintain your sense of security or your happiness in the world.
The Fifth Symptom – Emotionally reactive towards people and events OUT THERE
YOU find your self easily ‘triggered’ into an emotional state. YOU swing between emotional states that YOU believe YOU cannot control because YOU have learned to believe your feelings are controlled by events, circumstances and others behaviour. This leads YOU to believe you are a victim of life ‘out there’ and some degree of ‘learned helplessness’ take root in your consciousness.
The Sixth Symptom – Continuously ‘searching’ for happiness OUT THERE
YOU may or may not notice that everything YOU do, everywhere YOU go, everyone YOU want to be with, every ‘thing’ that YOU want to acquire, are all symptoms of a never ending search in the world ‘out there’ for fulfilment and happiness.
The Seventh Symptom – Thinking and talking of ‘what was’ yesterday and what ‘will be’ tomorrow OUT THERE
Your attention, either mentally or conversationally, almost always swings between what happened in the past, and what should or could happen in the future. Where? Out there… in the world. The present is seldom given tome or attention.
External Signs of the Outside Inner
If someone were to observe an average day in an average week of an ‘outside inner’ (perhaps that’s YOU) there is a good chance they would see someone:
Who GOES OUT searching for a ‘good time’.
Who LOOKS OUT and watches others, talks about others and compares themselves with others a lot of the time.
Who LIVES OUTside of themselves as they try to project an image of theselves as they become ‘appearance conscious’.
Who STRIVES OUT there in the world to achieve some recognised success in the eyes of others, believing that is the way to happiness.
Who is frequently looking for opportunities to MAKE OUT with another… out there, consciously or subconsciously believing that’s the way to find love and therefore… happiness!
Who is mostly focussed on what they can TAKE OUT of the world for themselves.
Who regularly tries to OUT DO others believing that life is a competitive journey so one must stay ahead of others to survive and thrive ‘out there’, or be seen as weak.
It all adds up to a not so happy life, if not a stressful journey, punctuated with many moments of disappointment, unhappiness and suffering!
Living from Inside out!
Whereas, the more enlightened approach to life and living is, yes, YOU guessed, the ‘inside out’ approach. Are in YOU an ‘inside outer’?
To continue our story of YOU…
…once upon a ‘later’ time, YOU started to realize that the programme, the conditioning, was at best inadequate, and at worst, somewhat faulty! YOU started to realize that the two realities in life i.e. the world out there and the world within your consciousness, were quite distinct and YOU were confusing the primary reality in here with the secondary reality out there.
YOU awoke to a deeper truth that happiness is not just another pleasure, that YOU are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness and that authentic happiness is an inside job… so to speak!
As a parent YOU realized that while YOU are responsible for the food, shelter and clothing of your children, and while YOU are responsible to ‘guide’ them into their adult life, YOU are not responsible for their thoughts and feelings in their tender years or for their decisions and choices in, well, any years! Guiding yes, controlling no! This is quite a breakthrough in your understanding of how relationships work. A breakthrough that frees YOU from much anxiety and many of the common parental relational games called ‘emotional blackmail’.
YOU realized that as long as YOU relied on your ‘emotions’ (stimulated by the world) to give YOU a sense of aliveness YOU were not able to choose and express your ‘feelings’ (created by you) appropriate to the needs of those around YOU. It dawned that ‘dependence’ on anything or anyone today was a guarantee of some sorrow or suffering in the future.
Turning in to an Inside Outer!
And so it was that YOU slowly but surely began to turn the way YOU live your life around as:
YOU stopped going out for a good time and instead turned within to re-master your ability to self-generate your own happiness and thereby feel contented within your self.
YOU stopped looking out and watching others, stopped comparing your self with others, and started to become more aware of the uniqueness of each and every one, while realizing the uniqueness of your self.
YOU stopped looking at a reflection of your form believing it was YOU, and started to look past the form into your own heart and mind to see the ‘real’ power and beauty of YOU is within YOU. In parallel with that realization came the insightful paradox that you cannot know your ‘powerfulness’ until you give it away from… inside out!
YOU stopped being dependent on the reactions or the feedback of others for how YOU felt within your self as YOU started to take complete responsibility for ALL your feelings.
YOU stopped striving for success in the world just because YOU wanted the approval and applause of others and started to realize one of the greatest successes was not being dependent and therefore affected by others feedback.
YOU stopped searching for the exclusive love and affection of one other in order to feel secure in your self, as YOU realized love can only be fully known when you are lovingtowards others and end trying to take it from another!
YOU stopped seeing and using the world as a place to acquire wealth as you started to realize the greatest wealth is internal. So YOU started seeing the world as an opportunity to give, to share your inner wealth with others. And as you did both your material wealth and inner wealth grew!
YOU stopped competing with others as YOU awakened to the greater reality that we are all together in a process of co-creating the fabric of society, which is our relationships with each other.
YOU stopped ‘waiting’ for something to happen out there, ‘wanting’ something to happen out there or ‘wondering’ when something would happen out there, as you became fully focussed on this moment now and how to be creative ‘in here’. You consciously set about creating a state of being that made YOU of value to the world ‘out there’.
And as YOU gradually started to live from ‘inside out’ YOU started to realize it was by the far the more natural and fulfilling way to live. How did YOU know? Simple. It just felt consistently good. It was a feeling that arose from inside out and was not dependent on anything coming from outside in!
And so it was that in making the transition to living from ‘inside out’ YOU lived happily ever after!
Question: Which of the above symptoms of living from ‘outside in’ do you think you demonstrate the most?
Reflection: Why do we try to find our security and happiness in the world?
Action: Experiment this week with living from inside out by ‘giving’ in situations/relationships in which you are usually always wanting to get something.
by Mike George