No amount of internal work can make up for a toxic external environment. Similarly, no amount of perfecting your external environment can make up for a toxic internal environment. The reason spiritual teachers lived in caves on mountain tops is because the outer world always impacts our inner space. They didn’t want trivial things, you know, like “life” to fuck up their transcendence.
Likewise, the reason so many rich, famous and externally ideal people end up becoming addicts or committing suicide is that external perfection can’t make up for a tragic inner world. Again, it’s the product of a toxic internal environment. Like most everything in life, progress is made by balancing different approaches to achieving a common end. The Buddha knew this thousands of years ago and called it the Middle Way. It is the essence of holism.
At Stress School, we practice an approach to stress management and self development that pursues both internal and external work. This is because they are both vital for sustained progress.
The emphasis on the internal or external varies for each person depending on their life circumstances at any given moment. That being said we are always working with both.
When it comes to a situation that is stressing you out, I always suggest that you begin your inquiry internally. What are you feeling? Where are you feeling it? Why are you feeling it? Is this something you can modify with a perspectival shift or inner child work, etc.? If so, do it. If it works. Wahoo!
On the other hand, that same questions may quickly lead you to the conclusion that the circumstances of your external environment are to blame (like a toxic workplace) in which case, to hell with the internal work, you need to get the hell out of that stressful environment.
If you tend to default inward to breathe and calm yourself through your problems, start doing more external work. If you default to controlling, perfecting and life hacking your external world, stop that shit and go inside.
By constantly inspecting and improving both your internal world and your external world, you will develop yourself into the human you aspire to be and shape the world you inhabit to be one that you not only enjoy, but positively reinforces your development and wellbeing.
You can get more information on how to minimize external stressors here.
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