We all tend to have something we want to change in our lives.
For some it’s re-connecting with passions and hobbies, For others it’s spending more quality time with those people we care about or accomplishing a long held ambition.
The great news is that there is only ONE true barrier to pursuing our dreams or making the changes we need to make.
Here’s a question that I asked a group of 160 business leaders at a conference a few months ago;
If you knew (truly deeply knew) that you will always be safe and secure no matter what happens and regardless of any particular circumstances or situations, what would that mean for you as you go about your life? How would knowing this (as a fact) make a difference for you in how you live your life?
Here are some of the responses I got when I asked this question at the conference;
- ‘I’d take more risks’
- ‘I’d feel at peace’
- ‘I’d be more resilient’
- ‘I would do more for others’
When people believe that their OK’ness or inner security can be taken from them, it makes them feel vulnerable or disempowered. But when you realise your OK’ness and inner (psychological) security is never at the mercy of circumstances or other people, this knowledge frees you up and changes how you live, lead and work.
Recently I explained to a client that feelings and perceptions are like shadows. You can get frightened by the sudden sight of your own shadow, but the moment you realise what it is, you instantly settle down.
Like shadows, our feelings (or emotions) are the direct reflection of our thoughts. Every thought instantly creates a feeling that shows up in our mind and body. Sometimes those feelings can seem intense and can appear very real. Insecurity is one of the most intense shadows.
As human beings, the biggest challenge we face is the mistaken belief that something other than our own thinking, can make us feel something – whether that’s inspiration or sadness, happiness or frustration. And this innocent ‘outside-in’ confusion makes us feel out of control, creating feelings of fear and insecurity. It stops us moving forwards or makes us behave in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t.
If it were true that someone or some situation had the power to control how you feel, then it would be logical to do what you believe will make you feel happy, safe or secure – whether that’s avoiding things/people/situations or some other action.
If it were true that a person or situation had the power to determine our feelings and perspective, a group of people in the same situation would all have similar emotional responses to that person/situation. But instead we see a range of different emotions and hear many different descriptions.
The reality is that no person, no situation, no circumstance from the past, present or the future, has the ultimate power to give you peace of mind or take away your peace of mind…to give you confidence or take away your confidence…..to give you clarity or take away your clarity. Only our thinking can do this because our experience of life is always generated from the ‘inside-out’.
Here are some of the ways the innocent outside-in confusion gets expressed in our lives: do you recognise any of these?
- If I achieve [x goal] then I will feel satisfied/fulfilled/happy
- If I don’t achieve [result/goal] then I won’t be able to feel happy / relaxed / at peace
- When [x result occurs] then I will finally be happy / have peace of mind
- If [x person] changes, then everything will be OK
- I can’t be at my best until [x situation changes]
Empowered by truth….
We live our lives in a cause/effect model of the world that is fundamentally untrue. We think the source of our feelings and wellbeing is something ‘out there’ separate to our own mind – whether that’s a person, a situation, the weather or the workload. And by thinking in this way, we innocently rob ourselves of our peace of mind, confidence and clarity, leading to (in)action, decisions or other behaviours that we may later regret.
The single most important thing we can learn is how our psychological life works. It helps us to realise and benefit from the single most important truth – that resilience, courage, clarity, purpose and all the qualities you need and want are available unconditionally at any moment. Only our innocent outside-in thinking can create feelings of insecurity. And once you know it’s just a shadow, you can carry on regardless!
There is no greater gift we can give ourselves or others than this incredible gift of insight.