Why life is ALWAYS an inside job
Posted on 29th January 2020 at 08:11
It’s interesting how some blog posts trigger a much greater response than others, often not those we expected. We’ve had a great example of this already this year and we’re not quite at the end of January (!).
While the first post of the year, with its different perspective on how we really experience the world has triggered some lively discussions; it was that about cause and effect which really got things going. Particularly our observations about karma, which seems to have touched a rather raw nerve with some people.
Why is this?
Well, our guess is that it’s all about our tendency to look outside – for external reasons – for whatever’s happening in our lives. Good or bad. Long anticipated and hoped for or like a bolt from the blue.
This then quickly leads on to the perennially favourite “Blame Game”, as we find lots of reasons why whatever it is has nothing to do with us. Honest, guv.
It’s as though there’s some external – and seemingly arbitrary – force tinkering away behind the scenes, over which we have very little control. And we’re not talking in a religious context either...
But is this really the case or is it yet another example of backwards thinking? And just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean we should too…
If you listen to someone talking about their life – or how they’re feeling – you’ll quickly notice that an external reason is usually given for whatever’s going on. “This event – or person – is making me feel happy / sad / cross / fill in the blank.” Whatever it is, the inference is the same, that they’re at the mercy of some external and arbitrary force.
Now, if this was truly the case, there would be a very simple answer to this problem. A little distance. In other words, taking themselves right away from whatever – or whoever – it is. But here’s the rub, this never quite works. It simply comes with them.
If you’re in any doubt, just think about all the work “stuff” – for want of a better word – you bring home each night. Or home “stuff” that follows you to work. And how it ALL then comes with you whenever you go away, perhaps, for your annual fortnight in the sun. You may be away from home but all your “stuff” comes with you…
And, as an aside, we came across a very similar observation recently; although couched in a slightly different way. It came in response to a comment that a person would be perfectly happy if it wasn’t for all the “stuff” going on in their lives. So, the following suggestion was made:
How about spending a few days alone in a luxury hotel? A very comfortable room would be provided with fantastic views over the countryside and all their favourite food available on demand. All they had to do was relax and enjoy their own company free from any distractions, including all the modern gizmos. So, no mobile, Laptop, I pad, TV, etc. They could simply enjoy a few days on their own, making the most of their own company and being happy. How would that be? There are no prizes for guessing the answer…
So, if the cause isn’t an external one, there’s only one other place to look. Inside ourselves. And this is where it can start to get quite scary.
To begin with, the hectic pace of modern life doesn’t encourage any sort of introspection. It’s seen as rather self absorbed and hippy’ish. A “fringe” pastime. With the emphasis on being busy – which, as we’ve said before is not the same as being productive (!) – it’s hardly surprising that so many people find being simply “being” so difficult. We wrote about this tendency a while ago, you can find it here.
Sadly, this was borne out by some recent research which found that many people struggled to sit quietly with their thoughts – and without any distractions – for more than a few minutes at a time. And we’re not even talking about being able to meditate or quieten their minds in some other way. A very common comment was that they found it very uncomfortable to be alone and only did so rarely. What a sad state of affairs…
However, if you can spend only a few minutes with your thoughts, it’ll be a complete revelation. Trust us. You’ll quickly realise just how little idea you have of what’s actually going on in your mind. Or, even worse, the logic behind it…
Why is this?
Quite simply, it’s because so much of what happens in our lives goes on automatically, without any conscious effort on our behalf. It’s the reason we react as we do and why certain people – or events – “press our buttons” with all too predictable results. Without any conscious involvement on our behalf, it allows things to slip in under our radar. All we’re aware of is the end result. And this is where the problems really start.
On one hand, this automation – for want of a better word – makes our lives much easier. It means we don’t have to consciously think about every little thing. The simple and routine things happen automatically; leaving us to focus on the bigger, unusual or completely new things that come up each day. And this applies equally to the myriad of things going on in our bodies every second – without any conscious thought – as well as those in our heads.
Unfortunately, there’s a big problem with this process. It’s that we’ve never stopped to look at – or question – the software driving this process, which makes us behave and react as we do.
Imagine if you just put any old software on your computer – or simply used the same programs as those around you – without ever stopping to ask whether it actually met your needs? Let alone updating it or, even, deleting it if it was no longer suitable. But this is exactly what we’ve been doing to ourselves all our lives without ever realising it…
So, what is this software? Well, it’s all about our beliefs.
The ones we have about ourselves. “I’m clever / stupid / important / unimportant / fill in the blank.”
And this includes any “labels” other people have put on us which we’ve accepted as being true. “I’m academic / dyslexic / OCD / athletic / unathletic / fill in the blank.”
Then there are our wider beliefs about the world around us and our place in it. “The world is safe / dangerous / benevolent / malevolent / fill in the blank.”
And, finally, those which come from the family / society / country in which we live. They’re the set of beliefs which all those in the particular group agree on and are often treated as being the “accepted truth” about a specific topic. “Our family / society / country is better than that family / society / country.”
All of these then merge together to form our unique view of life.
But it doesn’t stop there. The effect any belief has on us – its strength if you like – is determined by one very simple factor. The emotion attached to it.
Whether we like it or not, we’re driven by our emotions. Drawn towards people – or events – that make us feel “good” and away from those that make us feel “bad.”
Put these two together and this is what you get:
A belief which determines how we react PLUS an emotion which determines its strength. Or, intensity, if you prefer.
In other words, the button being pressed AND whether it’s a light touch or heavy blow.
Once again, we’re sure the Little Monster in your head will have a lot to say about this different perspective. After all, they play a large part in this process and have much to lose. But, please, don’t miss this golden opportunity for a much better understanding of what’s actually going on in your head.
At the same time, we’re equally sure, it’s opened the Pandora’s box of questions a little more. How does this all happen? What can I do about it? Do I really have much more control over my life than I ever thought possible? And lots more besides.
But we’re going to leave it there for today and give a little time for this new perspective to sink in. Perhaps, even, to start noticing what’s actually going on in your head. Then, in a couple of weeks, we’ll return to this topic and provide the surprising answers to some of these questions.
In the meantime, a quick reminder about the post we wrote a few weeks ago with an easy way to meditate, to quieten your mind. You can find it here. By doing it, you’ll have the opportunity to spend some time listening to what’s actually going on in your head. Why not try it, you may be surprised by what you discover!
As always, the choice is yours.
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