Self Education: Living from the Inside Out
As you will no doubt have noticed, just about everything we are sharing here suggests that you need to look inwardly for your own answers to life’s important questions. The basic premise has been that until you know where you are headed, where you would truly like to go, what you would truly like to experiences, it will be pretty darn difficult to create the experience or to arrive at the outcome that will be fulfilling.
Often in seminars I have asked someone a version of the question, “What do you want?” And more often than not, I have heard back some variant on the theme of “I don’t know.”
In my more flip days, I would typically respond by saying something like, “Well, then, who should we ask?”
Indeed, who should we ask if you don’t know where you are headed, what you prefer, or what experiences you are seeking?
Now part of the problem here is that many would be more than willing to follow someone else’s advice, suggestion, or direction. It seems like the world over, most of us just don’t know what we really want or where we are headed, much less how we can get there.
That lack of clarity leads many to look elsewhere for answers. In fact, some of you may well have begun reading this in search of some cool answer about how to improve your life.
The good news is that what you read here may, in fact, help you achieve more of what you truly want out of life.
The bad news is that it will be entirely up to you to gain the clarity, make the choices and initiate the actions that will lead to a changed set of circumstances. Or is that the good news?
As I have considered what to call this work, I have frequently settled on “Questions for Those in Search of Answers.” That, too, may seem flip in some regard.
However, I don’t think I could be more helpful by supplying anything other than well considered questions, all designed to help you delve deeper into your own self to find the answers that will be satisfying or meaningful to you.
After all, how could I possibly know what will be meaningful or fulfilling to you? Of course, I could always guess and probably have a good chance of being close in a generic sense. It’s pretty easy to suggest that most people would prefer something more expansive, to be more at peace, to experience a combination of health, wealth and happiness.
However, what that actually looks like to any one individual can be pretty different from whatever I might be able to conjure up. Certainly there are many paths to fulfillment out there and the real secret in life lies more in finding what will work for you than it does in finding what has worked for someone else.
If you are like most people, you have more than likely tried someone else’s advice, path or method, only to find out that whatever you tried didn’t work all that well for you. Sound familiar?
So what do you do? Listening to others can be part of the solution, but more from the point of view of seeking to recognize something in what they have to say that resonates with some deeper part of who you already are.
Oh dear! Where is he headed now?
Stewart Emery, the founder of Actualizations was famous for saying “You don’t have to rehearse to be yourself.” He later wrote a book by that same title. His quote gets close to the essence of what I am trying to communicate here.
In my own language, I have often said that the process of self improvement is about “becoming more of who you already are.” (By the way, it seems funny to be quoting myself!)
If you were to do a lot of reading on the subject of self improvement, you would find many different ways of saying the same thing. The essence of the thought, at least as I have experienced it, is that great knowledge resides inside of each of us and the task in life is to bring that knowledge forward from within, and live that knowledge to the best of your ability.
Some call that “living from the inside out.”
I sometimes call it “natural knowing.”
Now the kind of knowledge I am talking about here has little to do with things like math or science or geography. Instead, it has to do with self-knowledge, the kind of understanding about what makes you tick and what will be meaningful to you at a deep and sustainable level.
If this seems even remotely possible, then the question becomes “how do I go inside and access that knowledge?”
The process is one of education. Not teaching – that’s what math and science and geography are about.
Rather, it is about education. Education is a derivative of the Latin word, educere, which means to lead out or to draw out. So, a truly educational process is one that encourages the learner to come out.
Taking my usual liberal license with words, I think of education as a process of helping an individual discover “more of who they already are,” of accessing knowledge they already possess, but may not reference very actively. This is a process of becoming aware, self aware – kind of right where we started this whole thing.
If the “secret” is in becoming increasingly aware, then it might be obvious why I referred to this process as one of “natural knowing.” If the information you require to lead life in a more fulfilling way is already inside, and the path of discovery is go inside and bring it out, then it would seem to me that this is what it means to know naturally.
It’s not about needing to learn something from someone else in the sense of learning a subject or studying a curriculum. If you are learning anything from me that might be of real value, I suspect you are learning that your life experiences are a function of your choices in life. You are the one who does the choosing, experiences the consequences, and decides what to do next.
If you are truly paying attention to yourself along the way, you will undoubtedly continue to learn more about what works for you. It doesn’t really matter what I think “should” work for you, or, for that matter, what anyone else thinks should work. What does matter is what works for you.
Hence, questions become an important educational tool, especially when the answers being sought are about personal desires, goals, experiences, etc.
Let’s do a bit of a quick summary for a moment.
Going back to the section on Symbols vs. Experience, the first question revolves around which column is of greater to significance to you – that of the Symbols or that of the Experience? Only you can answer that one for yourself.
If you have chosen the Experience side, then the question becomes one of how can you produce those experiences for yourself. Again, something that only you can answer for yourself.
Now, if you have anything going on inside your mind like “But I don’t know” then we need to refer back to section on choice, on choosing what you have so you can have what you choose.
Remember, this is all about awareness, choice, response-ability and accountability.
First we need to pose some questions about what you are currently experiencing and how much you like that current level of experience (Awareness).
Next we ask how you got there (Choice) – what Choices did you make that produced this experience?
If you prefer a different set of experiences, what other choices could you make instead (Response-ability)?
This all circles back to questions about how satisfied are you with both your experience and your process of choosing (Accountability).
Hopefully this is making increasing sense to you: the art of questioning is the art of educating – the art of assisting another to go within and to come back out with meaning and self-knowledge.