My good friend Brian Groves published a short article entitled “Was yesterday really better than today?” And this got me thinking, and musing, and evaluating. I went searching for answers – and came up with the following:-
- There’s the outside stuff, the Extrinsic answers – the world out there, including ours, the environment, the weather, other people etc
- and there’s the Inside stuff, the Intrinsic answers – our relationship with our thinking, how we are harnessing the power of thought; our feelings and our emotions, beliefs etc
And here is where we bump into the conclusion, “There are more questions coming out of these answers than we ever considered when we set out to answer the original question.”
Of course, the bullet-point nature of the answers is that they are mutually exclusive.
For, the interesting thing about all the Outside stuff, is that it doesn’t really relate to any of the Inside stuff, unless we believe and think and feel that it does.
All of which arguments, roll along, and come to rest at the door of what is REALITY – and the perspectives of Outside-In and Inside-Out.
When we are living from the Outside-In perspective then we believe that much of all, sometimes approaching near 100%, of our experience of the world – how it is being, what it is throwing at us – is REAL, and that we are regularly experiencing, enjoying and/or suffering the effects of that seemingly uncontrolled reality. As humans we would all like to have a controlling handle on our lives – to feel that we are, to some extent, directing our destiny.
We have been led to BELIEVE that this is the best, and most predictably reliable way that we can perpetuate our sense of security, comfort and wellbeing.
“The more control I feel I have, the safer and more secure my life will be.”
The Inside-Out nature of reality, on the other hand, grasps that “nettle” of experience and asks, “Where does our Experience actually come from?”
How our brain primarily handles the vast stream of sensual data that bombards us in every moment, is by prediction and recognition. It is as if there is a set of questions that ask,
“What is this exactly? What is it most like? Have I ever encountered this before?”
OR in terms of something affecting us …
“What WILL happen NEXT? What is MOST likely to happen? Have I ever encountered this scenario before? And WHEN and IF I did, HOW did I think/behave before?”
And so on, and so forth.
Part of the effective reasoning behind the Four Cartesian Questions ** comes from our predictive brain and cognitive processes.
After the primary predictive and recognising process, comes the filtering process.
This is where we Delete, Distort and Generalize that data that we have predicted and recognized!
This enables us to discard the unnecessary, and the repetitive; enables us to describe something as being LIKE something else; enables us to categorize something under a much broader description.
These are all wonderful processes carried out at exceptional speed by our amazing brain – in a seemingly continual flow – and can be best described as Thought Processes.
They are processes that harness the Power of Thought.
If we did not harness that Power, then none of the above would happen. We would not see the warm smile, or hear the barbed arrows of insults and criticisms, or feel a lover’s caress.
And the clue to where our Experience really comes from, is in these processes. For these are Thought Processes – and our every Experience comes entirely from thought, from our Thought Processes.
** – The Four Cartesian Questions:
What WOULD happen if I did X
What WOULDN’T happen if I did X
What WOULD happen if I DIDN’T do X
What WOULDN’T happen if I DIDN’T do X
Once armed with the understanding that we, essentially, make up every nuance of our entire experience, it is a short step to seeing that what is REAL – to us, at any moment – is only a constructed conclusion of our own thinking.
Or to put it more simply, even crudely, “We Make It All Up!”
And it is in this given fact of where our Experience comes from, that we can see that WE also have the power to change our Experience.
Not change in the sense of say “Turning water into wine” or manifesting a shiny new Porsche on the driveway, or stepping off a cliff edge and not falling, of course.
No, I’m talking about change in how we perceive the Experience and how we respond. That is the REAL power and control that we can bring to our Experience.
Shortcutting the Predictions
Now, in part of the functioning of our Predictive Process, we draw upon our Beliefs and Memories to help with the predictions. Here, we are applying some pre-determination upon our data gathering.
“I like Picasso’s paintings; Prokofiev’s music is just an awful noise; I don’t like dogs; unshaven means unclean, unwashed; my religion = right, proper; poor = inferior; etc.”
Picture the scene –
I’m in a lift and it stops at an intermediate floor and in steps an unshaven man, in shabby clothes, with a dog. My predictive brain presents into my conscious attention some evidence that is tagged with belief, grown and repeatedly proved from remembered experience – which was ALL based upon nothing but my own Thoughts in the first place.
If I am an Outside-In victim of my own thinking, then I’m already searching for and predicting MORE evidence to back up these beliefs. I’ll be physically recoiling in some way, shape or form – and I’ll be primed to smell for signs of unwashed-ness and poverty. His dog will detect my non-verbal recoil – because that’s what dogs do – and may well react. Which will make me further react! This is a bad scenario – I wish the lift would hurry up. Thinking, reacting, thinking, reacting …
I may well experience this again and again in lifts. I may well feel SO bad about this recurring that I develop a reticence to using lifts. The SPIRAL, ALL spirals, begin somewhere – and they all get a hold on us through seeing our Experience through an Outside-In perspective.
Freedom from Beliefs
Beliefs are just thoughts, repeatedly grown and proved, to a degree of unshakeable credibility. Layered up, over and over again, many times, until they become something reliable to us – to the “ME that I AM.”
One of the glorious freedoms granted to us with an Inside-Out perspective is to be continually questioning of our beliefs, our likes, and our preferences. We are liberated from narrow-mindedness, and all that that brings with it.
Our everyday life becomes predicated on curiosity and change, rather than un-deviated repetition and conservatism.
We are transformed from thinking, feeling and deciding how we want the world to be – and trying and trying to make it BE that way – into accepting that the world just IS.
And we can notice that how WE are BEING in a world that just IS, is far less of a struggle than Outside-In always seems to be.
So, was yesterday really better than today? For me …
- Intrinsically – NEVER. As we all of us are, I am on the road unwinding. I know that if I ever get the feeling that on the Inside I feel less better than I did yesterday, last week, last year, 5, 10, 25 years ago – then something is not quite right, RIGHT NOW. In that case I need to take a look at why I FEEL that, because behind that feeling will be some wayward and out-of-kilter Thinking.
- Extrinsically? Well, there are times in where we live, the state of society, cost of living, and so on, will be less better or more better than at other times. These are givens – rather like the weather, or the state of the seas. There is no control, for us, over how these things unfold.
The only control we do have, in the moment, is of our perspective brought to our experience via our relationship with our thinking.
And what of Yesterday, I hear you say?
Perhaps it is …
Yesterday, when all my fears I could not allay.
When tomorrow’s happiness seemed so far away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday.
Suddenly I’m not half the youth I used to be.
There’s an age-old shadow cast by me,
That beckons tomorrow – suddenly.
Why we had to meet, I don’t know, I couldn’t say.
For I sang a different song, back ‘ere long, yesterday.
Tomorrow’s love is not the game of some latter day.
Now there’s no need to hide away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday.”