Archive for August, 2011

Why do we make the External Internal?

August 1st, 2011 by Steve

I am often amazed at how easy it is to let the external world influence our feelings and actions. We often let that which is ‘outside’ affect how we feel ‘inside.’ Why do we make the ‘External’ ‘Internal?’

After teaching a class the other night, I was sitting in my car at a red light listening to good music and enjoying my 10 minute ride home.  I was an aggressive driver in my youth, but these days I enjoy the comfort of my car and see my drives home as “me time.” I take this same road home everyday two to four times a week. At this particular light, there are two forward lanes that go through the light which then merge after crossing the light into one lane. The left lane, which I was in, crosses the intersecting road and continues straight while the right lane merges into my lane. As a consequence, most people line up I the left lane at the light to avoid the merging.

I was the first person waiting in the left lane this particular night and other cars were lined up behind me. While sitting at the red light, I did a mental review of the new techniques we covered in class. I was very excited and feeling good.  Normally, I would get home, talk with my wife about my day and we would go to bed. This night, however, a car pulled up next to me in the right lane and my happy day somehow got tense.

In rushed my ego and said, “We are all waiting here in the left lane because we know the lane merges, but you in the right lane want to cut the line.”  Out went the pleasant thoughts about my class and my nice enjoyable ride home. My sudden new focus was making sure that when that light turned green, I took off quickly enough so the person in the right lane could not get in front of me.  After all, is it fair for them to jump into the front when I was waiting here first? My ego demanded to be satisfied.

Normally, I am an easy driver so when the light turns green I accelerate at a normal pace. I am neither in a rush nor driving slowly. Rather, I usually enjoy the drive. This night, I took off as soon as the light turned green as did the car to my right.  I was faster so the other car had to get behind me. Safely in front of the other car, I felt superior. I got ahead. My ego was happy. The person behind me, feeling upset, decided to tailgate my car and in turn I drove slowly to annoy them. A great battle of Egos ensued and I was winning.

A few miles down the road my opponent turned off onto another street and I finished my ride home but the ride wasn’t enjoyable. I was tense. I had to make sure to take off as soon as the light turned, watch the car in my rear view mirror as it tailgated me, made sure to drive slowly to get my revenge for the tailgating and even after the car was gone I kept thinking about how rude they were.

My choice to react to the car ruined my normal pleasurable ride home. I let something ‘External’ become ‘Internal.’ If I had driven like I normally do, then the car to my right would have speedily gotten in front of me and been on their merry way. They would have fulfilled their need to reach their destination in haste and I would have continued to enjoy my ride home like I normally do. My ride home would not have been affected in the slightest but I allowed the outside world to influence my actions and ruin my evening.

What’s even more troublesome is that I did it out of a basic reaction, an instinct. My basic self took over and my higher self did not respond. It got me wondering how often I allow something to bring me down to a lower energy space because of my Ego’s need to be righteous. Over the next few days, I kept track of how often I allowed external influences to affect how I react through out my day. I was surprised. Over a 3 day period, I reacted 14 times to external influences I could have let go. I have done a great deal of work to stop reacting to major issues in my life but it seems that I was still reacting to small incidents at my job, with my friends and family and of course the driving incident. My Ego was still in charge of the small things, so I began the process of letting go.

I am now working to live my life as I have planned based on my ‘Internal’ energy. If an ‘External’ influence has no bearing on my Intention and path in life, I have been letting it go. My Ego does not like it.  It screams at me to be satiated but I have over the past 2 days let the ‘External’ go 7 times and kept with my ‘Internal’ plan. I set my Intention to live my life my way and not to allow the outside world to influence me. At work, I did not allow upset customers or stressed colleagues to ruin my day. At home, I did not allow comments from my family to influence how I felt about my plan (technically my wife’s plan but I love it so its now our plan) to prepare for our new baby. Finally, on the way home from class tonight I let that new car that pulled up to my right hop in front and it felt great.

My Ego was not as loud this time and the fact that I lived my life my way and did not react to the outside world felt better than any win my Ego could enjoy. It felt better to do my thing my way and ignore the world as it did its thing.

When the External world is influencing who and what you are in the inside, remember to keep walking your path the way you want to and let those that stay behind, jump ahead or stand off to the sides walk their own way.

PracticalIntention