There is a quote by Carl Jung that says “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” So based on this quote, it would be right to say that one’s true nature exists within and is not found without.
To look within would then be the appropriate way of going about finding oneself. However although this may be so, it is something that is not the easiest thing to do. If one lived in a place where there were not as many distractions; on a small island for example - this would be relatively simply.
But the modern day world is filled with all kinds of distractions and these can keep one in a perpetual state of looking outward.
This is not to say that one should completely isolate themselves from the world and live in a mountain or a cave. Or that one should be in a constant place of inner reflection. These are simply two sides of the same coin.
And yet being completely external and losing one’s own inner awareness is the other side of the coin. Only looking outside and being completely estranged from one’s own being is a sign of imbalance.
East And West
To be fairly general here, the west is typically associated as being too external and the east as being overly internal. In recent years this has dramatically changed; as a more balanced approach is being attained.
With people being both internal and external; embracing what the outer world has to offer and tuning into what the inner world has to give.
In the west there are all kinds of distractions that can and do take one away from their inner stillness or sanctuary. These distractions have become part of society and this means that they have, in most cases, become invisible to a lot of people.
They may not be seen as distractions and may be perceived as an important part of one’s existence. On a societal or global level this can come about through: TV, Internet, Radio and Newspapers. When it comes to ones everyday life, this can consist of different dramas from the people around them and in their own life.
Some people will notice these as distractions, while others will be completely consumed and caught up in them. And if one has been brought up in this kind of environment or society; then it is not much of a surprise.
One may not even know that they are distractions and see them as simply how life is. Regardless of how they are making one feel and how much of a distraction they are.
So if one has been brought up to be completely focused on the external world and to ignore what is going on within or they are in a society that promotes this; then it has likely become a habit.
This means that it is automatic and doesn’t need to be thought about any longer; it just happens. For others looking within will just happen and this is because is has become a habit for them.
What happens in early childhood can have a significant effect on how internal or external one is. Perhaps one was raised in an environment where it was all about the needs of the caregivers for example.
Here, what one needed or wanted was ignored and denied. It may also have been that one’s views, opinions and expressions were ignored and criticised. And as a result of this, one becomes cut off from their self expression and trained to depend on others.
A Big Factor
One of the biggest reasons that one would become caught in the external world and ignore their own inner kingdom is due to pain. Whether one has become completely internal or external is often due to the same reasons.
To be external allows one to avoid the pain that is within and to be internal can allow for one to avoid the drama that is without. They each allow for the regulation of pain.
A great majority of this pain could have come about through a traumatic childhood or later trauma. And as the ego minds tendency is to avoid pain and not face it; being caught up in the world’s stimulation is a natural consequence.
And the modern day world is full of all kinds of stimulation that will allow one to escape from this inner pain. From technology, to food and everything else; they all enable one too escape from pain.
So the stimulation could be classed as the problem, but if the need was not there the stimulation wouldn’t be sought after in the first place.
The options to deal with pain have not become part of the mainstream society. Whereas options to avoid pain are very much a part of the modern day world.
Looking outside for everything has many consequences. And some of these will be more significant than others. Creativity is less likely, the ability to think and reason for oneself is also unlikely. Having opinions and views that one has come up with by themselves will not be as common.
To know who one is and what one wants to do is highly likely. The chances that one will have substance and depth of character are also greatly reduced.
So not only is there the distractions of the world when it comes to finding who one is; there is also the inner pain that can stop this process from happening. But, if the commitment is there, the distractions will not be as influential. These distractions can be used as a catalyst to ones growth, if they are used in the right way.
Finding the right support is imperative here. Being around people who can shine the light can make a massive difference. From books, to mentors; there are many sources of assistance available.
It is often said that finding the self is not so much about gaining anything, as it is about losing what one already has.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.