Do you let the outside world run your life?  Most do…
1 Feb

Do you let the outside world run your life? Most do…

Do you let the outside world run your life? Is your state of mind dependent on the world around you? Most of us live our life from the outside-in. We allow things on the outside to determine our inner state on the inside. Over time this behavior becomes self-defeating. Our willingness to conform to the outside interrupts our ability to connect to our inner wisdom on the inside. As a result, it becomes easier to conform than to stay aligned with what we know to be true and real.

Living this way is often called “living from the outside-in” and it doesn’t work. When we live our lives focused on others, the world, and the narrative in our mind, we give away our authority. This is how we become vulnerable and overwhelmed. It can easily get us off track and make life miserable. We end up living at the mercy of the outside world.

When we give the world authority over our well-being, we make ourselves easy prey. Too often, without knowing it, we invite trouble into our lives. This is also true when the upset comes from our thoughts. When we allow something to interrupt our lives and wreak havoc on us, we’re allowing it to determine our inner state of being. Know this for sure, nothing should ever have the power to determine our inner state.

Let’s explore…Do any of these experiences sound familiar to you? This is what we do…

  • We compare ourselves to others because we believe life is a competition and when we’re not winning, we’re losing.
  • We seek the approval of others and often let them define our value or sense of worth.
  • We spend our lives trying to prove ourselves and measure our success with outside achievements that never seem to be quite good enough.
  • We feel unsure of who we are or what we want because we’re too busy trying to do what we think we’re supposed do or be who we think we’re supposed to be.
  • We are stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out because we’re saying yes when we want to say no, or no when we want to say yes. And, as a result, we end up too drained to take care of our own well-being.
  • We are either worrying about the future or obsessing about the past while we put up with negative thoughts and emotions day in and day out.

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”Mahatma Gandhi

If you recognize any one of these behaviors, know that you can learn to live another way. Remember, this way of life is only a habit. It ends when we take a stand.

Yes, we’re in the habit of focusing our attention on our thoughts and the outside world. This is how we’ve lost our connection with ourselves and what means the most to us. As a result, we look to the world to make us happy and solve our problems. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work because it can’t. All problems are created in the mind, and they live there too. Yet because we experience temporary relief from time to time, it reinforces a belief that one day the feelings of relief will last. But they don’t last, and they never will. Look for yourself. The evidence is clear. It never lasts.

This way of life is insufficient and unsustainable. We’ve become dependent on what’s going on outside us and we’re troubled when we don’t get what we think we want. Notice, when we want things to be different on the outside to be ok on the inside, we suffer. Again, there is a better way to live, without suffering and without the voice of fear and doubt.

Instead of depending on the outside, we can learn to live from the inside where we’re satisfied and complete all the time. This is the state of spiritual consciousness. In this place, we abide in our authentic, true nature. But know that it does take practice redirecting our life and attention inward to restore what’s been blocked. It’s like when clouds block the sky. Yet we know the sky is still there and so is our happiness.

Once we know the truth, we can gradually withdraw our attention from all the thoughts and distractions to quiet our mind. When we redirect our attention away from thoughts and place attention on our 5 senses in the body, we train the ego mind that we’re in charge, and as a result we take back our authority. This is how we apply healthy inner and outer boundaries with ourselves, the ego, and the world. Our authority we gave away…is then reclaimed.

Notice, life is neutral until the ego mind gets involved…and once we engage with it, it refuels for more havoc. Redirecting our attention away from these distracting thoughts is a powerful tool to practice where we can regain our rightful authority. Meditation gives us an appointed time to watch the mind, redirect from these thoughts, and practice just being. This is how we learn to abide in the foundation of being.

So, don’t spend your life looking in the wrong place for fulfillment. The ego mind tells us the solution to our problems is found in the world and we believe it…even though it has no idea. It’s scared to death and tells us we’re subject to threats as well. It reminds us that we’re unhappy, and that’s not true either.

In fact, our natural state is happiness, and if we’re unhappy it’s because we’re disconnected. We can recover it. Know this for sure, we’ll never find fulfillment in the world because it’s inside not outside. The things of this world merely provide temporary satisfaction but know that nothing external can ever fulfill us. Yet, when we believe our thoughts and the way the ego interprets life in its narrative, we suffer.

As human beings, we have a natural tendency to seek what we “think” we lack according to the ego’s narrative in our head. And, if our state of mind is dependent on the world around us, it will fail. We’re born fulfilled and nothing can change that. Yes, our natural state is already happy.

The ego filters everything through the mind. And, unfortunately most of us believe the ego when it tells us that freedom from unhappiness and dissatisfaction is found in the world. Our ego narrative tells us to look outside for solutions in order to be ok on the inside. Yet, the truth is…it’s causing its own suffering. When we pay attention to what the ego says, we give it power. The ego mind is certain the outside world is where we’ll find fulfillment, but it’s still not true.

Consider which one of the following you experience in your life: insufficiency, lack, unhappiness, stress, meaninglessness, not enough, upset, anger, anxiety, dependency, negative self-talk, attachments, and much more. Notice, fear is the driving force here. And what’s worse is believing we’re this voice of fear and doubt. We’re not. It’s happening to us. This is what we must discover within.

A man must look inward to find his own answers. ~ Robin Williams

Let’s go deeper…

Living outside-in is when the mind is unobserved and in a state of spiritual unconsciousness. The tendency to live from the outside-in is reinforced by living in our heads or trying to live up to the ego’s idea of itself. The ego mind runs and ruins our lives when we go along with its narrative. Remember, all problems are created in the mind, and they live there too. When we live outside of ourselves, life’s uncertainties become unsettling, and we often allow the opinions of others to cast doubt on what’s true.

Let’s explore a few examples of what it looks like when our attention is focused on the outside. We go along with the ego and the world, live in our heads with the narrative self-talk we believe, experience self-defeating patterns, feel disconnected and separate, while lost in the process of thinking, feeling, and doing rather than being life itself. This is how we’ve learned to “do life” rather than “live life”.

Instead, let’s consider what is meant by living inside-out. Living from the inside-out is a state of being where the mind is observed, thus spiritually conscious. When we live from the inside-out, the noisy mind begins to quiet. What we’re left with is a deep understanding and appreciation for who we truly are. Our attention is focused on our inside “being” that is connected to our true spiritual self.

Living our lives from the inside helps us reconnect back to who we truly are. From this vantage point, we give ourselves the gift of seeing the magnificent being within. This is divine awareness. The amazing thing about living our lives from this place is that it’s available to everyone. It’s just a matter of practicing redirecting our attention by choosing to see the moments here and now through our awareness.

Yes, we learn to overcome the world when we move beyond the mind, its narrative, and the outside world. In this way, we’re no longer easy prey nor taken over by the thoughts or life situations we experience. As we’ve learned, it’s our thoughts about life situations that cause us problems. And again, they’re all created in the mind.

Let’s review. This is how we can overcome suffering and live a fulfilled life from the inside-out.

  • We first need to establish good inner and outer boundaries to reclaim our authority.
  • Next, we can start a meditation practice to recognize what the ego is up to.
  • As we practice, we learn to quiet the mind by redirecting our attention away from thoughts.
  • This is how we restore our true nature and rightful authority.
  • The mind will begin to quiet, and inner peace will be rediscovered.
  • Remember, when the mind is directed by the ego, it can’t solve problems because it creates them, but we can. 

Now let’s apply what we’ve learned.

Commit daily to doing your inner work. Regularly check in with yourself to build an inner true sense of self that’s needed for fulfillment, freedom, and inner peace. You need to know what’s going on in your head so you can take care of your own well-being. Once you recognize what’s going on, you will make better choices and not allow the intruding thoughts to take you over. 

So, start by paying attention to the thoughts coming up and redirect your attention to your 5 senses, your body, and your breath. In fact, taking one conscious breath can neutralize your thoughts. It’s a mini meditation. This is how you can break the stream of thought by creating a gap between thoughts.

As you widen the space between thoughts, you will be able to recognize what’s going on as a life situation and not your life. Thoughts are like a cloud passing through. You can take your rightful authority over them by allowing them to be “what it is” and not getting involved. Instead, stay rooted here in the present moment.

This practice will help you become familiar with what you’re experiencing so you can make friends with it rather than resisting and thus suffering. Next time you will be able to recognize it easier and quicker. Keep practicing because it works. Remember, you’re supposed to be in charge. It’s your life. So, don’t take thoughts seriously. Instead, ignore the voice of fear and doubt so it will dissolve with practice.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Remember to be patient with yourself as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. Please share it with a friend. It may be exactly what they need to hear. Don’t forget to return to read my upcoming blogs.

For more insight, consider reading Chapter 11 “Loving Yourself” in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”.

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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.