A very different approach to stress.

The Inner and Outer Self.

What is the Inner and Outer Self?

We all have an Outer Self, that is the way you present yourself in your daily life. Think about all the care about your looks, your hair, what you eat. What kind of colleague, spouse, friend or blogger you are. Your Outer Life is your work, your household, it is in your planner and it takes a lot of energy, space and time. Your Inner Self are all your values and beliefs. Your dreams, your hopes, spirituality and your deepest desires. In short, it embodies who you are, on the inside.

Why is the life-work balance a myth?

That is, there’s no way to balance work life and home life, because both exist on the same side of the scale – what is called your “outer” life. On the other side of the scale is your personal, private life – your “inner” life. Instead of thinking about how to balance work life and home life, try, instead, to balance your outer life and inner life.

What can happen when Inner and Outer Self are not managed properly?

You can become so depleted and stretched by dealing with your outer life that there’s little time to tend to your mind, spirit or body. Then, you identify your “self” mostly with who you are in that outer realm. And when there’s little on the inner side of the scale, the outer part weighs you down. You are unbalanced, unhappy and often sick. When your inner life is out of balance with your outer, you become more vulnerable to stress. As I’ve written many times before too much stress isn’t our friend and can harm your mind and body in many ways. More broadly, when your inner and outer lives become unbalanced, your daily functioning is affected in a range of ways, both subtle and overt.

Instead of thinking about how to balance work life and home life, try, instead, to balance your outer life and inner life.

Learning To Rebalance.

Reframing your challenge from trying to balance work and home to balancing your inner and outer lives will help you build overall health, internal well-being and resilience in your pursuit of outer life success[1]. In short, a strengthened inner life brings your “private self” and your “public self” into greater harmony.

How to measure the discrepancy between  Inner and Outer Self and more important, how to balance them?

  1. Make a list of what you believe to be your core, internal values or ideals (5- 10 entries). Perhaps it includes romantic relationships; close friendships; expressing a creative talent that’s important to you, having a peaceful mind, being rested, …  It might include your spiritual life; an intimate marriage or partnership; or contributing your talents, energies or success to the society in some way.
  • Next, make a parallel list for each item on your list, describing your daily actions relative to those values: How much time and energy do you spend on them in real time? What are your specific behaviors regarding each? Be detailed in your answers – note the last time you took an action aimed at nurturing that creative child, building your marriage or giving some meaningful help to the less fortunate. Don’t be surprised or ashamed if you find that very few of your daily activities reflect those key values.
  • Assign a number from 1 to 5 measuring the gap between each value and your behavior. 1 representing a minimal gap; 5, the maximum.
  • Identify the largest gaps. Now think about how your inner values could redirect your outer-life choices in those areas. Start from that initial idea or feeling that you had when you wrote your list. Think about the feeling that accompanies that value. What action can you bring to the table that is going to facilitate that feeling? What would you have to do to bring the inner you in synch with the outer you? What can you commit yourself to doing?
  • Write it all down and set a reasonable time frame for reducing your gaps. Really make a plan that calls you to action. Think about all things you can do, have a brainstorming session. You’re not required to do them all but it will leave you with a reasonable set of actions that is meant you make you happier and stronger in life.

Notes, resources and further reads.

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201006/building-inside-out-life-part-1

https://www.verywellmind.com/tension-between-inner-self-and-outer-self-4171297

9 thoughts on “A very different approach to stress.

  1. This is really interesting! I’ve been looking for different ways to analyse and understand how my mind works in correspondence to my behaviour and my environment, and this seems like a great way to do it! Will definitely try this.

    Thank you for sharing, Kacha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Arshia 🙂 I’ve tried it and it did help me to see the gaps clearly and to do things that really matter to me. It helped to feel better. Let me know if it does work for you too.

      Like

  2. That’s a great point that home and work aren’t actually the opposites we tend to think. If you live alone, home life can be more of an expression of your inner life, but especially when you live with other people, it’s still a place of outward focus. Too much outer life feels heavy to me while an over-active inner life makes me feel dazed and anxious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same, inward time is needed to unwind and to recharge. But focusing too much on the inside can make your head to go spinning. I found the focus on the feeling itself that I like (let’s say being creative) and being able to express that in myself as well on the outer part of me, makes me feel balanced and still happy.

      Liked by 1 person

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