Why Managing Your Internal World is the Most Important Skill You Will Ever Learn

Photography:Kantha Bae

By Geordie Bull

After wasting years trying out different strategies in an attempt to control my children (and the rest of my life), I was intuitively led to practices that encouraged me to focus entirely on my internal world – my thoughts and emotions. 

Over time, without implementing any external strategies, my relationship with myself and my family transformed. I learned to manage myself, rather than the people around me, and it was a game changer. 

Managing your internal world is the opposite of denying or numbing your feelings. It includes an understanding of the purpose of emotions and the ability to first become aware of them, then subtly shift them to states that better serve your intentions. 

It really is a skill that can be learned, and one that will become increasingly important as our world continues to change dramatically. 

In my experience, there are 6 key components to managing your internal world: 

1. You have a deep understanding of the function of your emotions 

Emotions function as an internal guidance system. They are the product of thoughts, which produce a physical response in your body that you feel as an emotion, which tells you whether the thought is aligned with your intentions or not.  

For example, if I am feeling anxious and can identify the anxiety as a physical sensation in my solar plexus, I can then trace the feeling back to the thought that produces the discord.  

Managing your internal world is the opposite of denying or numbing your feelings.

Understanding the function of emotions changes the way you interact with them. Most people have been taught that emotions are feelings to be either maintained (in the case of positive emotion) or repelled (in the case of negative emotions).  

This approach creates addiction and negativity, as emotions are designed to deliver a message about what is going on in your internal world, and then be released. 

The skill is in learning how to see them in this light, and in unlearning the habit of clinging or pushing them away. 

2. You have an awareness of the emotion while you are experiencing it 

Emotional awareness is the skill of being able to locate an emotion in your body and identify it before you react to it. 

This skill cannot be underestimated. It is the difference between feeling angry at your child and yelling unkind words that you don’t mean. It’s the difference between feeling insecure and ending a relationship prematurely. And it’s the difference between feeling anxious and spending hours worrying about things that may never happen. 

When you have practised the skill of emotional awareness for long enough, it becomes your default way of being. And when it is your default way of being, the quality of every single aspect of your life shifts dramatically because you are able to select how you react according to your deepest values rather than blindly acting on your emotions. 

Emotional awareness is the skill of being able to locate an emotion in your body and identify it before you react to it. 

3. You have a choice over how you react in emotionally challenging moments 

When you reach the stage of being able to act independently of your emotions, you feel a trust in yourself that has no comparison. You trust that you can do that presentation, even though you feel scared. You can have that difficult conversation even though you feel anxious. You can speak with clarity and compassion despite feeling angry. 

And as you continue to choose the way you think and behave in a way that sidesteps emotional reactions, the fruits of your fresh, soul-driven actions snowball into more of what you want: harmony in relationships, meaningful work, ease and flow.  

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