What does Balancing your Inner and Outer Worlds mean for You?
Intentional Living is based in the idea that you have the power to create your life with your intentions. Your intentions are rooted in your internal world and how it interacts with your external one. For example, if you are in a bad mood, you are much more likely to see the world around you in a negative light than you would if you are in a good mood. Further, if your environment is chaotic, you are far more likely to feel chaotic internally, which would result in a loss of focus and motivation among other things. When your environment is clean and organized, you tend to feel more ordered internally as well. The reverse is equally true: when you're internally chaotic or ordered, your environment tends to mirror that when you are unintentional with your life.
If you recall the first two steps from the previous post in this series, Center of Self: Steps toward an Intentional Life
, you will know that the most direct route to creating an intentional life using the Center of Self
is to decide on a central thought and the use that thought to choose what your environment is. You then would observe how the changed environment affected your inner world. As you will see in the following point, this works, but it is not sustainable.
How does Center of Self help you to Balance your Inner and Outer Worlds?
When you apply these two steps to the example set in the previous point, that when you're internally chaotic or ordered, your external world tends to mirror that, you will see the direct affects of using the Center of Self to affect your external world. Let's say that someone is experiencing chaos internally and it is reflected externally as well, as is common when feeling depressed or grief. If they focus on a central thought relating to order, peace, and calm, they would then act on that central thought--despite their responses and feelings within their body still telling them that they feel chaotic--and create a calm and ordered environment. The calm and ordered environment would then temporarily create calm and ordered responses in their body. Unfortunately, their sense of peace is now linked with their ability to maintain this calm and ordered environment. This is why becoming overly concerned with keeping a clean house when you feel chaotic internally is such a common coping mechanism for people.
In the above example, you see that focusing entirely on affecting the external world first by using the Center of Self isn't as effective as using the Center of Self to focus on your inner world first and allowing that to affect your external world, which then would create a feedback loop which reinforces the intention you originally set. Thus, following the steps to creating an Intentional Life using your Center of Self will inevitably lead you to a sustainable way to balance your inner and outer worlds.
Step One in Balancing your Inner and Outer Worlds with Center of Self: Commit to Changing Your Environment
After learning of this flaw in the first two steps toward creating an Intentional Life, you might be wondering why we included them at all in the previous post in this series. The simple fact is that, when we are struggling, most of us do not have the willpower or ability to go within and face their inner world. Starting by addressing the external world will not only create a buffer between our struggle and our responses, it will bring us to the inevitable--and very important--conclusion that we need to address our inner world if we are going to truly make any progress in this journey.
Step Two in Balancing your Inner and Outer Worlds with Center of Self: Start an Introspection Practice
Now that you have (hopefully) fully committed to your inner work, it is time to focus on creating the balance that will sustain your Intentional Life. Start looking within. Spend a certain amount of time--whatever is comfortable and sustainable to you--each day in introspection. The easiest way to do this is by keeping a journal, like our Mindfulness Footprint Journal
, but there are plenty of ways to do this. Following an active mindfulness practice, like Clyfit Classes
, is one way; meditating through breathing exercises like our Ebb & Flow Breathing Technique
is another. We also recommend utilizing a therapist to have a sounding board who is full of informed advice, tools, and techniques to help you on this journey.
The purpose of this introspection is to allow yourself to fully examine what your inner world looks like. Is it depressed? Is it pessimistic? Is it positive and uplifting? Are there any areas that don't line up with your ideal life? Take stock of these areas and create a plan to transform your inner world into one that you enjoy living in. Focusing on that central thought--your Center of Self-- from Step One is helpful here because it gives you a template of what to look for in any misaligned parts of your world. It also helps you to paint the picture of what you would rather be experiencing. When you get to a point that you are satisfied with what your inner world looks like, you are ready to move on to Step Three.
Step Three in Balancing your Inner and Outer Worlds with Center of Self: Create Alignment
When you get a good handle on transforming your inner world--and this doesn't mean that you have to have a perfect inner world before you can move on to this step, just that you feel comfortable with your plan and have taken action toward it--you can really start to pay attention to your responses to your environment and how your body is working as a whole. If what your body is telling you is in alignment with your central thought that you created in Step One, then you can move toward making your environment reflect that central thought. If what your body is telling you is not in alignment with your central thought, you can take action toward changing how your body feels, through a change in diet, exercise, daily habits that align with your central thought, and other ways that you may come up with yourself. These shouldn't be too difficult to add to your action plan, because they should align and/or overlap with your steps for transforming your inner world.
After you address the way your body is responding your your world, you can move toward addressing your environment and how it aligns with your central thought. It is essential that you approach transforming your environment with the same care that you took to transform your inner world. Make sure that every step you take is in alignment with your central thought. This may seem taxing and that it would take longer than you would like, but going slowly and carefully along this journey is how you can create a sustainable change in your inner and outer worlds. Otherwise, you will find yourself slipping back into old habits very quickly.
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