The Light Inside You (#871)

Someone who was considering attending one of our Learning How to Thrive retreats sent me an email that reflected a struggle that a surprising number of people seem to have when they are first learning the inside-out understanding that all of our feelings are derived from thought, regardless of what may or may not be happening in the outside world:

Michael – is it possible that some people just don’t have internal well-being? I don’t think I do, I think I have internal misery, I’ve always battled with depression and it seems to be my default position.  I really do see life as outside-in and can’t seem to shake it – I see the logic in arguments for inside-out – but can’t apply it to myself.  I really have tried, honest …

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

Fortunately it’s not possible, though you’re certainly not the first person who’s asked me that question and thought they were the answer. The reason it’s not is that well-being isn’t really “inside us” as individuals – it’s what life feels like when we experience it relatively undiluted by our own personal thinking. The less we have on our mind, the more life force/creative potential/well-being comes through us; the more we have on our mind, the less of it we are able to experience. Not personal, just physics.

And what keeps things on our mind is the utterly false notion that worrying about things is an effective problem-solving technique. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these posts, thinking about a problem when you’re upset is like brushing your teeth with a toothbrush dipped in plaque – it makes you feel like you’re doing something, but it only makes things worse.

Think of the creative potential of mind like a computer and our personal thinking like an abacus.

By ourselves, we can only compare imaginary options and consequences one by one, moving beads to the left if we don’t like them and to the right if we do. Then we look to see how many beads are on each side and try to make our best decision. By way of contrast, in those few instances when we give up in despair and turn our problems over to the deeper intelligence of mind (or to God or the universe) without giving them a second thought, we are invariably surprised at the fresh thinking and new possibilities that emerge, seemingly out of nowhere.

What if you could give up without having to wait until you were in despair? What if it was OK to give up now and make space for new thought to come through?

Worst case, you’ll begin to feel better as your thought/feeling system fills back up with life force. Best case, you’ll feel better AND come up with any number of creative possibilities for your life going forward…

I then went on to share the story of a client who came to me convinced that he didn’t have access to well-being but very moved by the possibility that some other people did, because he said it gave him a bit of hope for humanity. We spoke regularly for a a couple of months, and then one day he said to me “I had the weirdest experience this morning – I woke up and felt like I was floating in a sea of peace. It was like that feeling after an orgasm, but it went on and on for hours. Could that be that ‘well-being’ stuff you’ve been talking about?”

I assured him that it was, and pointed out that he hadn’t had to “do” anything to experience it. In fact, it’s because he had finally stopped working so hard at trying to feel good through a variety of outside means (sex, food, and self-help books being three of his favorites) that he had enough space in his head for well-being and wisdom to make themselves known.

For myself, I still get caught up in scary or insecure thinking from time to time and in those moments, nothing seems more important than solving whatever problem seems to be between me and my well-being. But every time I come back to my senses and recognize the fundamental impossibility of feeling something other than my thinking, the window panes of my consciousness begin to open back up and the light of the world begins to shine back through my eyes from the inside-out.

Have fun, learn heaps, and if you’re struggling at the moment, please accept the biggest virtual hug you can imagine and my absolute promise that no matter how dark things may seem, the light inside you is still shining as brightly as the day you were born.

With all my love,
Michael

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