Outside In or Inside Out? It Matters.

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Last night, I dreamed about Oprah. She was doing some kind of performance with gorgeous white horses who had long flowing manes. It was a beautiful and perfect performance.

Sweet Sandy Sue

When she came in, she walked over to a vending machine where I was standing. I told her what a wonderful performance it was! She said, really? Are you sure? She was doubtful, insecure, tentative. I said, yes, of course! It was superb!

Tobe. My sister's horse!

You see, even Oprah has doubts about herself. Welcome to the human experience. The problem is not that we have those thoughts but that we take them so very seriously and personally. We buy into them and, by doing so, we keep them alive. You could call this contaminated thinking.


Thinking, coupled with consciousness, creates our life experience. We are only ever dealing with our state of mind in the moment. That's how the system works. How it's meant to work.


It's what gives us our rich experience of life. It's a beautiful, creative system but most of us have a misunderstanding about how it works. This misunderstanding can cause all manner of discomfort and even suffering.

Sweet Caroline

We've grown up in a culture that has taught us to view life from the outside-in. That's the misunderstanding. We believe that what happens to us out there is what causes us to feel and experience. So, we read the books, attend the seminars, and visit our therapist, minister, or expert in order to learn the techniques and gather the tools to manage and combat our circumstances, deal with the people in our lives, and minimize our stressful feelings because what else can we do?

Rush, Sandy Sue, Shine

It's a constant game of managing all that is happening to us. No wonder we are tired! The techniques and tools can be helpful and sitting across from someone who really sees us and stays with us in a place of love can be wonderfully helpful, but somehow, we find that nice feeling and those techniques difficult to sustain and, before you know it, we're barely able to keep our heads above water again.


Once we understand that we experience life from the inside-out, we are able to find our clarity and well-being again. We are no longer at the mercy of what happens out there. We understand that our thinking about what's going on out there is the source of our feelings and experience. This understanding can be confronting in a way because it goes against everything we've ever believed, but when we take a moment to really examine it, we see how much more freedom and choice could be available to us if it were true.


Contaminated thinking, that is, stressful thinking that we buy into and feed, like Oprah did in the dream, is what causes our discomfort. When we turn our attention away from the contaminated thinking, we make space for new thought and clarity to arise. Thought is always arising. That's what thought does. We don't get to choose which thoughts we have but we do get to choose which thoughts we feed.


This is good news because we don't have to fight our thoughts, or change our thoughts. We don't have to take our thoughts so seriously and personally. Boy, has that been a game changer for me. We can choose which to let move through and which to create our lives with. If we feed them, they will grow and we will feel and experience them. That’s the way of it.


Practical example: Last week, I had a Facebook exchange with someone whom I love. We walk in very different worlds now and we disagree with one another on many issues. Hot bed issues, like politics and religion. I try very hard not to engage in Facebook exchanges like that because I know they are useless. On this day, and it’s not the only time, I got caught up in a thought that was passing through. How can these people think like this? I’ve got to convince them otherwise! Really, the thought was just passing through, but I brought it to a full stop and I fed it. Man, did I feed it. Let me tell you, it didn’t feel good. Not for a moment did it feel good. And taking action on that contaminated thought did absolutely no one any good. It did not deepen our love. It did not deepen our connection or understanding. It probably did deepen the divide. And I felt awful (and self-righteous, superior, and justified, dammit!, but not good).

Peyton & Meeko

Here’s the thing, once I fed the thought, it grew exponentially and seemed to take on a life of its own. That’s how powerful thought is! My friend’s beliefs, ideas, and comments did not cause my feelings but what I thought about what she believes had everything to do with how I felt. How can I be certain? Because there are many times that the same situation is at hand and I feel neutral or maybe even love. It can’t be her. It can’t be the situation or I would react the same way every time. It has to be my thoughts about the situation. Once I understand this, I am free to allow the stressful thought to pass without having to act on it. I’m free to wait for a new thought to arise, a new insight to occur, that will allow me to respond from a place of love if a response is needed at all.

Meeko and Ashley

This is how thought works. This is how our experiences are created. No two people experience the same situation, circumstance, or person the same way because we are living from the inside-out. We are only ever living in the feeling of thought in the moment.


Don't believe me, really examine it. See if it’s true in your life. Notice when someone cuts you off in traffic one day and you rage and when it happens another day and you are perfectly calm. There are a million examples like this. Just notice. Notice the stories you tell yourself about the circumstance on this particular day. Notice how these stories themselves are the source of your feelings, not what’s happening out there. Just notice. Once you see, once you understand, it will be like understanding and aligning yourself with gravity and not falling down as much anymore. You will flow with life a little more easily as you understand how this human system works. Life is experienced unfailingly from the inside-out and a fresh thought is always on the horizon.

I would be delighted to hear what you think in a comment below.

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