Personal Development is a different place. It is not the normal world we are all so used to living in, where things are just as they’ve always been. Once you embark on a journey of personal growth it’s not very long before a whole new set of rules needs to be applied to get the most out of life.
I’ve been around, and into some sort of personal development for years. I suppose you could say every person on earth has been as well. Everyone is trying to make themselves happier, more successful, more wealthy or more secure. It’s just that the tricks and tools we use to become happier, richer, more successful are actually counter-productive.
And that doesn’t mean everyone’s numbing themselves into oblivion with booze or drugs. Or that people are choosing violence and anger to solve every challenge in life. Often the tools we use are positive and healthy. We meditate a bit and do yoga. We eat better and take anger management courses. All good things, but we still don’t get what we’re longing for.
The answer to that question always eluded me until I really made a commitment to apply the lessons and insights I’ve been exposed to in the Beyond Freedom Evolution (BFE) course.
For me, the answer is, that in order to achieve what we aspire to in life and to do that consistently, we have to change the way we think. Simple.
Pretty damn hard, actually.
We are so used to perceiving the world in a particular way, and to holding on to an intricate set of mutually-reinforcing beliefs about ourselves, that to change them can seem frightening or dangerous. Or insane.
Probably the biggest change in thinking I’ve been challenged with in the past few months is the notion that our inner reality creates our external world. What we see and believe in our heart of hearts about ourselves, ‘truth’, right and wrong, possible and impossible, will be reflected in our physical world in some way.
And my usual response has been to try to fiddle with the physical world in order to create a different inner experience for myself. We’ve been trained (brainwashed, really) to believe that we have to change our outer world in order for us to feel better on the inside.
Of course, this is completely wrong.
One of my favorite poets was an Indian king named Bahadur Shah Zafar. In one of his poems he wrote (my paraphrase):
Why do you run from the temple to the mosque in a feverish pursuit?
Everything you are searching for is hidden with yourself
If only you realized it
I’ve repeated those lines hundreds of times over the years (and duly impressed many people!). But it was only recently, when I was reflecting on what I was learning in BFE about ‘external’ and ‘internal’ realities, that the penny dropped.
I had always interpreted the poem as referring only to big spiritual ideas like God or the Divine. And that you can only find the Divine inside of yourself is something I’ve always understood.
But I now realize that this truth—everything you are searching for is hidden within yourself—applies not just to grand concepts but also to everything in our world. In order for anything to manifest in our physical world we need to find it or create it inside ourselves first. Only when we see and feel the joy of living in our new house, or see and feel the power of putting the pedal to the metal of our new car, or see and feel ourselves being more physically fit will we actually ‘have’ them in our physical world.
In essence, we have to create our own world in our mind and soul first before we can enjoy it in ‘real time’. We have to retrain ourselves to believe that the physical and visible world comes out of the invisible and imagined world, not vice versa.
At first, this seems ridiculous. But the more I work with it the more exciting it becomes. I recently put the theory to the test. I entered an international photography competition. I have never entered such a big one and have certainly not won any prizes or awards. But I began to visualize me receiving an email from the competition organizers informing me that I had won the Grand Prize. I imagined every word in the sentence and played them over in my mind whenever I thought about the competition.
A few weeks ago I was informed that I had NOT won the Grand Prize. But the email went on:
We do have good news for you! Your submission was among the top-rated entries in the Portrait Awards 2016 competition. This is an impressive accomplishment given the record number of submissions we received. We’ve upgraded your LensCulture account to a Portfolio Account so you can now upload an unlimited number of photo projects, link to your photo books and add your profile info. Portfolio Accounts are free to photographers we invite, forever.