The Answer Lies Within

The Answer Lies Within

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Last weekend, I deliberately went through the most terrifying and challenging experience of my life. It is probably not appropriate to describe it in a public forum, but all I can say is that I did it not to seek thrills, but to learn more about my past and my inner motivations. A lot of people would think I was crazy for doing this, but to my mind, I would be crazy not to. Without facing my fears and investigating the sources of any inner pain and struggle, I would not be as effective as I am today.

I travel the world, learning as much as I can so that I can make a bigger difference in the world. Some of it is about trying to understand the world around me and what problems and solutions are out there. Some of it is to learn new skills to tackle problems in different ways. But far and away the most important part of all my learning is the work I do to find out more about myself. To change the world on the outside, we must first change our world on the inside.

There is a two year old inside every one of us that somehow gets lost as we travel through life. The world around us takes us away from who we are. Day by day, it layers experiences and influences on us in imperceptible ways. The challenge is to understand what is ‘us’, and what is not us. That takes inner work.

Probably the best piece of advice I ever received was that most of the answers to most problems in life could be found in the mirror. If I am ever angry, frustrated, stressed or struggling, it is most likely not the world that is the problem. The problem is probably me. And that one idea has served me better than anything else.

Those feelings now serve as a compass for my work. As every year goes by, I get better and better awareness of those feelings, learning from them and doing the work that needs to be done to move beyond them. Consequently, as every year goes by, I feel those feelings less and less.

Even this blog is a huge part of my inner work. I sit down every week and try to share ‘The View Inside Me’. I share my hopes, dreams, fears, ideas, actions and reflections with the outside world. That act of writing gives me the time and space to work on my inner world.

There are so many ways that you can do work on yourself. From meditation to psychotherapy, to healing and coaching. Some solutions are gradual, and some solutions are like ripping the plaster off really quickly. What I do would not necessarily work for you, and vice versa. The important thing is that you try different methods to explore your own personal development, and use the ones that work for you.

For me, the result of all this inner work is that my outside world is as good as it has ever been. Life is not always easy, but it feels an order of magnitude easier than it used to. This has come from years of hard work on the inside, rather than years of hard work on the outside.

To my mind, the most important thing in life is to learn how to let go of the inner struggle and go through the world with joy and ease. Learning how to be who you are is the most important thing you can ever learn.

And for that, the answer always lies within.

What are your sources of inner struggle?

What work can you do to understand and move beyond them?

How can you change the world inside you, to change the world outside?

As always, I would love to hear your insights, experiences and feedback in the comments section below.

Marc

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  1. Nice post Marc. Reminds me of ‘Temet Nosce’…Know thyself.
    Inner work is a great education and a worthy challenge for sure.
    Is it possible to see ourselves in all people, in all things? Often I have found that it’s when you stop looking, when you doubt or deny a connection is there — that you stop learning about yourself, and who you can be.
    Keep moving.

  2. Marc, Great post. It prompted me to think that I have spent a lot of time ‘sleep walking’ through life. It also make me think that there is always a need to take action – whatever works for you, to make sure you are waking up and seeing the contribution we can make. Thanks.

  3. “Learning how to be who you are is the most important thing you can ever learn.”
    Yup and it’s the most difficult. One of my obsession when I was in high school was to search for myself. As I grow older, I learned that having an obsession wouldn’t necessarily easier to get what we are obsessed about. Sometimes, I find myself one way and the next day, I’m contradicting my yesterday’s self. That’s why some people think that they are fakes as they know more and more themselves.

    They’re not fakes but they just realized that their expectation of who they should be is different than who they really are.

  4. Hi Mark
    I have to ask; what exactly did you do last weekend?
    I am guessing the Landmark Forum?

    I love your posts. Thank you for sharing. I have consciously been on the journey to ‘know thyself’ since 1999 and in my opinion it’s the hardest work of all…but most worthwhile.

  5. I like what you say, to be fair I have just found you today. For me faith in yourself and faith in something larger, mine happens to be God. We need both instances of faith to fully live and be happy. You may have included this in other posts. I am intrigued enough to continue following the blog.
    Thank you.

  6. Hi Marc,

    A lovely post, I have found the journey of understanding the self has to be one of acceptance, once I learnt to accept with kindness everything that is me, I found a platform for change. What an exciting yet sometimes turbulent journey it is.

    Thank you for sharing you!

  7. Janet Bernstein says

    Marc-

    I love the rawness to your posts, and the genuine place from which they are written. I can honestly say your words constantly challenge me to do better, try harder, and to do things for the reasons that matter most to me and not anyone else. I was immediately drawn into this by the first paragraph, but I hate to admit I feel a little let down we didn’t find out what you put yourself through that ultimately prompted the writing. Just my two cents!

    Thanks for sharing such thought provoking insights!

    Janet

  8. Hi Janet,
    I would be the first to be sharing it if I could! I am more than happy to share in person but just not in writing in this particular case. My commitment to openness remains undiminished.
    Marc

  9. Read your post to just learn what your terrifying experience actually was… Not for public consumption? OK totally understand.

    Have to guess that it involved a powerful (supervised of course) hallucinogenic brain cleansing so many folks in mid-career / mid life now seek in order to release-the-demons. If so, good for you! If not… delete this reply!

    Personally, spending as much time in the ocean as I can here in NorCal waves is a close mini-approximation of that cleansing. It’s just the afterglow of a good (terrifying life altering big wave) session and / or just being in water alongside so much marine wildlife that puts it ALL in perspective. It takes some effort to remember to appreciate each experience and not get distracted by competitiveness or the testosterone of other dudes competing for waves. Wish I could bottle it because working in silicon valley alongside so many self important and determined digital gold rush seekers is fatiguing. Same feeling you get when you travel to Seattle and a co-worker or customer feels compelled to tell you how awesome Seattle is – with that sensitive-creepy WA vibe, the cold rainy weather and urban gridlock worse than SF Bay – as they order the most smug and complicated cup of coffee ever conceived.

    Trying to live between broke & happy or rich & diseased not so easy. Instead, supporting a preferred lifestyle #1 through career as #2 just feels better…

  10. Sat Prakash says

    There are very few people who are as real and daring as you are. I appreciate you for that. Saying this because i experienced and know that..Inner work can be hard at first but gradually it becomes a weapon to come out of any problem no matter how big or small it is..in just a very small amount of time.. It took me years to understand that and i think the way i deal with them could be the way anyone can try and check whether it works for them or not.. Hopefully you can relate to the lines coz i think i m very bad at explaining things..

    There is a difference between PASSION AND DESIRE. we need to understand it first if we want to take call on the basis of our feelings..

    Passion is what we want to do and i think this always originates from our feelings.
    Desire is not from the same source.. If we find ourself really impressed by something in materialistic world.. that eventually becomes desire to accomplish and this all happens on subconscious level (Automatically).

    If we Exactly Put Our Finger on Which is what..? It becomes easy to decide what to opt and in what direction you want to go..

    Imagine 2 wires in your brain:
    1st wire in your brain which has one end hold tightly by a tuning peg to your feelings and other end straight to your Passion.
    If some 2nd wire gets tangled on the first and resist the flow of current.. I call it a wire of desire.. and say to myself i will get to my desire later, Untangle it and just work on my real passion first..

    This is just the example of how i make things work for myself… its all just happens inside..
    I think Mind is a very small thing if we compare to our feelings because all big tides of tension and resolution can be handled on the basis of feelings.. mind sits there just to endorse the right or wrong.. Thats it..

    I think Thats the practical way atleast for me…

    Thanks for reading..

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