As I look at the last few years, I see a pattern developing.
There is a period of inside practice.
And it is followed by a period of outside practice.
And then another period of inside practice.
And then back outside again.
As I define it, inside practice is the process of learning about yourself through stillness, reflection, and self-imposed curiosity.
You are learning to look at your actions, behavior, energy, and mood with questions rather than judgments.
Identify the emotions or feelings present, and then ask about them.
Why do I feel angry? Was I this angry last week? Do I remember a distinct moment when my anger went from low to high?
Again, not marking the anger as bad or wrong, not trying to solve or conquer it, and just getting curious about it.
Over time, this process becomes more and more fruitful. As we dismantle our stories and narratives, we can see what has stirred our proverbial pot more easily.
But at some point, the process can become circular. We notice the same patterns, but they don’t change.
And that is why we need outside practice.
Inside practice helps us to recognize our experience.
And outside practice helps us to change it.
Outside practice is bringing that awareness of what makes us angry, happy, sad, joyful, connected, or distant and then putting it to the test out in the world.
Seeking experiences that, hopefully, support us feeling more how we want to feel and less how we don’t.
And inevitably, in doing so, you encountered some of what you hoped to receive and others that you didn’t.
I don’t love the term, but “stress test” feels accurate here.
To truly step into a new way of being, we must relearn and rewire our ways of thinking and behaving when we are exposed to certain stimuli.
Let me give an example.
I am single, which means I am aware of the siren’s song of dating apps. And, for the official records, I think dating apps suck hard.
However, I was making them suck even more by falling into this story:
“This is a waste of time because no one on this app could think that dating a weird, nearly 36-year-old rapper with a daughter and a strong relationship with his ex, who wakes up at 4:45 in the morning and mostly eats plants, is an attractive option.”
Technically, I don’t know that.
But, come on. I do know that.
Many advice givers would say this is an opportunity to express gratitude and expand my perception of what is possible.
And I say: that’s a load of horseshit.
And I say that not because there isn’t an opportunity to express gratitude or broaden horizons, but because those practices have to come from a place without fear or need.
That story exists because I tell myself that the only good or worthwhile outcome of dating is a lifelong partnership.
That’s an insane amount of pressure to put on an application built on swiping.
But I know I’m not alone! There’s a reason a lot of people think dating apps suck.
Thanks to a very wisened coach, she helped me reframe to this perspective:
Dating apps are an opportunity to practice being my complete, unapologetic, 36-year-old Dad rapping, plant-based early bird self. Invite someone else to do the same. Suppose they don’t love me that way. GREAT.
And if they do, fantastic – I just made a relationship, regardless of its shape, in which I get to be unapologetically myself. I think that’s a pretty good deal.
So, does the swiping process and inevitable text malaise suck? Sure does.
But my reason for doing it and my intention to be there can be improved by 1,000,000%.
And, after doing a lot of inside practice on where I am, I’m pretty excited about some outside training.
So my question to you is: Which are you needing more of in your life right now?
Do you need a period of more introspection to understand better how you’re feeling?
Is it time to stop self-diagnosing and take your new knowledge for a test drive?
Let me know!