I recently had a conversation with a friend about “outside-in” thinking versus “inside-out” thinking. We talked about the different experience that each offers and how it affects our state of mind and our mood. We talked about them as if they were two different functions of the brain, two different principles of thought.
It was only some time later I realized what had happened. The language we’d used reinforced the misconception that there were, in fact, two ways to think. In reality our perception, thus our experience, is always born from within. It’s a gift that we all share and that allows us to step back and gain a new perspective — to change our thinking.
Every feeling we experience occurs because we think it. We can’t have an experience of joy and calm without having a thought of joy and calm. Similarly we can’t have an experience of worry and fear without having a thought of worry and fear.
In order to deeply embrace this understanding and to reap the benefits of it, we must first become aware of our learned habits of thinking. When we recognize where our thinking can and often does take us we begin to see how our experience changes from moment to moment.
We begin to see that we’re the creators of our own experience. We also can see how each of us has our own way of viewing the world and creating our own reality. We do indeed have separate realities.
You’ve all noticed that some people find traffic and line-ups irritating and frustrating, often to the point of rage. You’ve undoubtedly noticed too that some people seem to be unaffected by the ups and downs of city driving or grocery store line-ups and simply kick back and listen to music, chat with their neighbour or read the magazines at the checkout. Same events, different perceptions. Simple scenarios, powerful options.
If we’re able to grasp the profound implications of this awareness we’ll see what amazing potential lies within us to live more and more moments in a state of well-being. When we see ourselves as the creator of this movie we call “life” we’re even better able to make wise choices and feel compassion and love for the world around us.
One of the inescapable bonuses of this beautiful understanding is that it generalizes into every part of our lives. We can’t truly embrace these principles and the inside-out nature of life without seeing their relevance everywhere. Compassion, wisdom and calm on the highway will absolutely follow us into the boardroom and to the dinner table. Calm and common sense will spread from the grocery line-up to the bridge table to the golf course. Bother will become a rare occurrence if not a distant memory.
With increased faith in our innate health and our ability to let go of old habits that no longer serve us comes a sense of freedom. It’s a freedom from having our “buttons pushed” because we now know that no one can, unless we think it. It’s a freedom from the grip of insecure thinking because we now know that we’re making it up. We’re free to be unencumbered by innocently learned habits that have clouded our vision and kept us hostage to outside events. We’re truly free to experience “inside-out” at its best. OK. I get it!