The World is Your Mirror
Essentially, we don’t get what we want; we get what we are.
By Byron Sakha
For decades, approaching self-discovery and empowerment from the inside out has been touted as the enlightened path to follow. The concept that the answers are always within is such a broad message in the field of personal development, and whilst it’s true that we’re never going to find the answers to our biggest questions “out there,” that’s where we can most easily learn what to look for within.
We can use this “outside-in” approach by using the world as our mirror. Essentially, the outer world shows us where we have room to grow. It’s very simple. Just look at the different areas of your life –health, friendships, finances, career, intimate relationships, family — and ask:
“How’s it working out?”
“Am I experiencing the results I want to be experiencing?”
Yes or no?
We’re either getting the results we want or we’re not. And we can have every excuse under the sun for why we may not be getting those results, but ultimately in order to change the reflection, we have to take ownership of the picture of us that it’s revealing. Even if we never say it to anyone else, we have to be honest enough with ourselves to say, “Something I’m doing is not working, because I’m not getting the results I want.”
So, let’s work from the outside in. If something isn’t working, use it as feedback to realize there is something we need to adjust so that we can start getting different results. As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, when we find ourselves experiencing the same results over and over again, it’s time to do something different. Maybe it’s time to get more training or education, or maybe there’s something we’re doing that we need to stop doing. The point is to observe what the outer world is reflecting back to us and use that information to create the changes that will lead to the reflection we’d prefer to see. But we can only do this if we take full responsibility for ourselves and our outcomes.
Nothing is more disempowering than believing that it’s other people’s fault when we don’t achieve what we’ve set out to do. We always have a choice to do something. And if we want our results to change on the outside, we must be willing to change something on the inside.
For example, your relationship reflects the type of person you are in the relationship. So, if you keep attracting the wrong type of people or feel unfulfilled in one relationship after another, something needs to shift within you. If you keep getting treated like a doormat, then perhaps it’s time to learn how to set healthy boundaries, raise your standards, and do some work on boosting your self-worth. Or if it’s the flipside where you’re all brawn and continually pushing others away, then perhaps it’s time to work on developing those softer skills such as vulnerability, self-trust, and learning to embrace all aspects of yourself.
No matter what outcomes you’re experiencing, they reflect your internal landscape. For instance, your career and financial success are reflections of your vision, values, and standards. If you care more about short-term comfort and spending than you do about long-term growth and investing, you will find it hard to achieve sustainable results in these areas.
When we are committed to a longer-term vision, we become more willing to forego shorter-term fleeting pleasures and therefore are more able to align our extrinsic actions with our intrinsic vision. This infinitely increases our focus, persistence, and ability to achieve greater lasting fulfillment.
Our physical health and mental wellbeing reflect whether our choices are in line with our intrinsic values. When we live according to our highest values, we feel energized, focused, and inspired, thereby taking better care of ourselves physically and feeling better mentally. When our daily lives contradict our highest values, we feel drained, distracted, and uninspired, thereby sabotaging our health and feeling scattered mentally. So, when we see that our external reality doesn’t match up with what’s truly important to us, we can use that information to make the necessary changes.
Essentially, we don’t get what we want; we get what we are. Our external results are proportionate to our internal resources. I love the concept of looking outside to discover the work we need to do on the inside because results don’t lie and we can’t cheat them.
Look at the different areas of your life and ask yourself, “What am I not satisfied with on the outside, and what can I do differently on the inside to change my results?” Whatever it is, give yourself the gift of saying yes to you. The more you say YES to your highest values, the more the world will say YES to you.
The story was previously published on The Good Men Project.