THE BLOG
05/22/2013 12:50 pm ET | Updated Jul 22, 2013

Applying the Inside-Out Understanding -- Or Not

Beyond a doubt, here's the most common question that I'm asked about my work: "How does one apply (to life) the fact that everyone's thinking and mindset in the moment is the source of his or her experience?"

My answer is always the same: "You don't." The inside-out understanding is innate; there's no way to deliberately apply it to a particular situation.

Instead, my role as I see it is to teach individuals, groups, teams, or organizations about the understanding -- how the mind functions and how we shape our experience based only on the ebbs and flows of our thinking -- and then together (or sometimes without me) we'll find the answer to a specific issue that appears challenging.

Here's an example: Last month I met with a client who was confronted with the challenge of slanderous publicity initiated by a competitor. The company called me in specifically to help it overcome this apparent problem. Once I arrived, it was clear that the company's leadership team was extremely angry. Simply put, they wanted revenge. But to their initial surprise, during the first two days of our three-day retreat, I didn't even bring up the slander, the competitor, or the appropriate response to this quandary. My only focus was teaching the team members that they, like all human beings, feel their thinking. They, like all human beings, don't feel their circumstances. And knowing this is what prevents people from trying to fix external situations that have nothing to do with the way they feel in the first place.

Now, once that was accomplished (and a whole bunch of insights shared), my final day with this group was designed to attack the slanderous competitor issue. Everyone in the room, including me, took his or her turn revealing what the situation now looked like to them. And while each person used different language to describe his or her perspective, the overwhelming consensus about what to do was -- nothing. That is, in a matter of two days, this external situation went from looking like the worst problem in the world -- one that must be avenged -- to a mere bag of shells. In fact, the president of the company stood up and mentioned that the competitor had actually done them a service. "In highlighting our company," he said, "they're providing free PR and, at the same time, guiding us. Perhaps we do need to roll up our sleeves and get better in a few areas."

Without exception, the starting place for everyone's perception and experience is their thinking and the feeling state that ensues. The reason that this paradigm is so powerful is once a person sees that it's not the outside world that determines how they think or feel -- the individual's mind clears and bona fide answers automatically fill the space. And bona fide answers, by the way, never feel angry or vengeful.

No, you can never calculatingly apply the inside-out understanding. Just know that it's true. Simply look in that direction (in to your thinking, not out to your circumstances) and your issues -- sans retaliation -- will naturally solve themselves.

For more by Garret Kramer, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.