December 13, 2010 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
I was planning on writing this week’s column about the importance of living “inside out” even before the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsed this weekend. In case you somehow missed it, the roof of the Metrodome caved in due to the weight of the snow from a recent snowstorm. The stadium, now looking like a collapsed souffle, is a vivid picture of what our lives can look like during this stressful time of year, if we neglect to live our lives from the “inside out.”
This time of year, it is common for people to wear themselves out trying to meet other’s expectations. It is easy to overdo things--to overspend, overeat, over-drink, and over-schedule. The external pressures are abundant from our families, friends, work places, and, of course, the commercial messages as well are constantly telling us to make sure this Christmas, or this holiday, is the “best ever.” Before we know it, we can find ourselves exhausted by trying to meet too many of these external expectations. Living this way, is living from the “outside in,” and soon we will find ourselves like the Metrodome, collapsing under the weight and pressure of all that we feel has been “dumped” upon us.
To live from the “inside out” requires a radical shift in our thinking and is based on two essential skills. First, we need to take time to identify what we truly feel and need inside. We need to “go inside” on a regular basis to know our deepest longings, and to be able to identify for ourselves what truly makes us content (hint: it’s not more stuff, more food and drink, or more activities) and then to respect this truth within ourselves. If we do this on a regular basis, then we can proceed to the second step which is to make intentional decisions about what in our lives we say “yes” and “no” to, thus creating a greater sense of balance for ourselves and more honest and meaningful connections with others.
Learning to live more from the “inside out” is one of the keys to maintaining our spiritual and emotional wellness. I know for myself, that whenever my spiritual or emotional wellness is low--running on empty--it is because I have been living too much from the “outside in” without realizing it. The key phrase in the previous sentence is “too much.” There will always be “outside” needs and desires that we will want to respond to--especially this time of year, but remembering to balance these with our “inside” needs and desires is what will help us maintain our spiritual and emotional wellness.
Before you think about piling one more thing on your life this time of year, remember the Metrodome. You might also want to remember that the field inside the Metrodome was recently renamed the “Mall of America Field.” Perhaps this is a good reminder that what we truly long for, and what we truly need in order to be happy living from the “inside out,” cannot be found at a mall or a store. It can however be found in the deeper connections with our own hearts, our spirituality and the connections with those we love.
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