T he new school year has just begun in most of the U.S. and that has become a regular topic of conversations when I chat with friends, colleagues or clients parenting school-aged children. In particular, I’ve noticed that the way people speak about the first week of school shows whether they’re internally or externally driven.
For example, when Ann told me about her daughter’s first week back, she told me that her daughter was a feeling overwhelmed by a couple of her Advanced Placement courses, her thrill at making the volleyball team, and the impact on the family’s schedule.
Diane, on the other hand, talked about buying three new pairs of jeans, three dresses, and a pair of boots when I asked about her daughter’s first week back in school, and when I asked how her classes were going she responded by telling me about the School Secretary commenting how pretty her daughter was in one particular dress.
Both of the teenagers in questions are beautiful young ladies, but it was clear to me that Ann was looking at her daughter from a place of heart – noticing first her emotional reactions to school – both triumphs and stress, even though there were new clothes purchased in that family, too. Diane, on the other hand, looks at the world from the outside. She worries about her daughter’s weight, clothes, hair, make-up, and what everyone thinks about her, rarely focusing on how she feels.
I’ve known both of these women for more than twenty years, and when I stopped to think about it, I realized that the way they talk about their teenage daughters’ first week back in classes is also how they focus on life as a whole. Diane is always seeking external validation for every aspect of her life; she invariably shares that she is unhappy about something, and believes that if her boss would change his ways – or her husband would be more supportive – her life would be better. Ann used to be much the same, but the loss of her father and a divorce led her to re-evaluating every aspect of her life. She found that when she began dealing with life’s ups and downs from a place of soul – and stopped worrying about what others thought – that her world become full of love and joy.
So, what about you? What is your world view?
Do you look at the world from the Outside In? Are you always on the lookout for external validation of your choices? Do you believe that in order to be successful, you need to wear the right jeans, carry the right bag, and be connected to the right people? Are you plodding through life, reacting to the world around you, and always blaming other people and circumstances for the imperfection of your life?
Or, does your world view glow with your inner fire as you look at things from and Inside Out perspective? Are you stepping out of the box and living from a place that your heart tells you is right? Living from the inside out will have you making decisions based on your desires, creating your own happiness and focusing on your inner light and feelings. Life is messy, but embracing the imperfections and challenges with grace and dignity will keep you on an even keel.
If you want to live your best life, then the only way to get there is to live from within. Creating an intentional and deliberate path allows you to create a solid daily life that will be filled with joy. My challenge to you for the week: notice the areas in your life where you are externally driven. Begin to take steps towards being true to your inner needs. And if you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Are you willing to share? What’s one way you are externally driven – and how can you begin to take your power back?
(Image is “Out of This World” by Gil Elgren)