When we divide what’s ‘inside’ us from what’s ‘outside’ as if they were separate from one another we cause ourselves all kinds of difficulty.
In much of our culture we treat working with what’s ‘inside’ as if it’s irrelevant, an indulgence, soft, a waste of time when compared with the hands on world of making, doing, deciding and acting. And we can become equally convinced by the opposite position – that we can’t act until we’ve completely resolved some feeling or inner difficulty, or until we’ve studied and understood a subject from end to end.
But inside and outside are a continuum, different aspects or angles on the same world. It might be most helpful to think of ‘inside’ primarily as that corner of things of which each of us has a particularly special, privileged view – and part of the world nevertheless.
And so it is the case that the way I relate to others is very often the way I’m already relating to parts of myself. And that the way I struggle within myself is the self-same way I struggle with other people.
And it’s often the case that powerful ‘inner’ work is done ‘outside’ – for example by developing skill in relating to others I also develop skill in relating to myself. And that there are many riches to discover about the ‘outside’ world by the much undervalued art of listening attentively and with deep curiosity to the inner experience of others.