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changes our perspective and perception of the outside. The outside environment is different because we are operating out of new insights and understandings as a result of what has been added to or changed on the inside. Each new insight makes available to us new and different choices on how to interact more appropriately with the environment to change the quality of our experiences.

This may seem like an obvious correlation between what we have learned and how much satisfaction we experience in our lives, but I assure you it is not. If it was so obvious, then most people wouldnt have such a difficult time making the connection between the deteriorating conditions, lack of happiness or satisfaction in their lives and their lack of insight, coupled with a refusal to acknowledge there is something they dont know and need to learn.

There are always greater levels of satisfaction available in every experience until we reach the point where we know everything there is to know. If we did know everything there is to know, we could expect outcomes from the outside that would correspond exactly with the inside mental environment. This kind of perfect correspondence between inner and outer would be the result of our perfect understanding of ourselves-the inner forces that act on our behavior-in relationship to the outer environmental forces that act on us. Since none of us is at the level of perfect knowledge, we can assume that within every experience we have with the physical environment there are other probable experiences resulting from other choices that were available but unknown to us at the time, the point being that what we end up with in any given situation will correspond exactly with our level of understanding, insight, and ability to act on what we know.

The more we allow ourselves to learn, the better able we are at making assessments about the possibilities that exist in some future moment. However, implied within the foregoing statement is that we are, first, willing to acknowledge that other possible futures exist, not just the one future that our expectations and beliefs about what we have already learned lock us into. Keep in mind that everything we know in relationship to everything we havent learned yet would represent the current set of limitations that we operate out of. Conceptually, these individual limitations are no different from the choices people in the Middle Ages were blinded to by believing that the Earth was flat.

If we arent willing to acknowledge that in any given situation more information and choices exist than what our beliefs allow us to perceive, then we will never learn to recognize or anticipate the existence of these other more satisfying possibilities. By acknowledging the possibility that a more appropriate set of steps exists, we open ourselves up to perceive and then learn the steps that can lead to greater levels of satisfaction. Refusing to acknowledge the existence of these possibilities would be the same as claiming that electricity didnt exist before it was discovered. When we continually argue for the status quo by defending what we already believe we know, the environment will seem to be constantly assaulting us, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety. The outer environment becomes assaulting because it is offering us more to learn about the nature of the ways in which things exist and we are simply refusing to learn.

In fact, we can easily determine if we need to learn something to operate in the environment more effectively by just monitoring the way we feel. If there were never an imbalance or lack of correspondence between the mental and the physical environments, then theoretically we wouldnt ever have a reason to feel disappointment, frustration, confusion, stress, or anxiety. It is only because there is an imbalance, a lack of harmony or correspondence, between the mental and physical that we ever experience any of these unpleasant, negative emotions. Because when there is a balance between the inside and outside, we experience the opposite feelings of joy, happiness, and satisfaction. So it would stand to reason that any time we feel these negative emotions, it is because we either didnt know the most appropriate set of steps, resulting in frustration and disappointment, or we dont know what to do next, resulting in stress, anxiety, and confusion. In any case, our feelings will always tell us about the stare of our relationship with the environment and point the way to what we need to leam to experience greater degrees of satisfaction.

For example, if we arent experiencing satisfaction in our personal relationships, would it be too simple to assume that the reason is because we havent developed the appropriate interpersonal skills? Is it possible that there are certain communication skills available that-once learned and used-can result in much more satisfying personal relationships and deeper levels of intimacy? The problem is that it is just as easy to assume that the appropriate skills leading to

greater levels of satisfaction dont exist or that we already know what we need to know and if we arent experiencing satisfaction now, it must therefore not be possible to experience it at all. When we operate out of the last assumption, even if the environment presents us with evidence that deeper levels of satisfaction are possible (observing another couple who are experiencing satisfaction), we would probably assume that they are acting as if they were happy for appearances sake. That way, we wont have to take responsibility for learning something they might know.

The first assumption would result in investigation, learning, and expansion, leading to greater levels of effectiveness and satisfaction. The last two assumptions would obviously lead to more dissatisfaction. The names and places may change, but we will experience the same kind of painful conditions over and over again. These cycles of dissatisfaction will continue until we acknowledge there is something we need to learn and go about the task of learning it.


Obviously, acknowledging there is something that we need to learn is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, acknowledging that we dont know something or that what we do know isnt very useful or effective presents us with one of the major paradoxes of life. The dilemma we are confronted with is how can we know what we dont know when what we have already learned will block our perception of what we havent learned yet. For example, once we leam that trading is easy (the first few quick winning trades will establish that belief), it will block our perception of information to the contrary, that trading is probably one of the hardest endeavors one could choose to undertake. Each of these beliefs-that trading is easy or trading is hard-would result in the perception of completely different choices as being available from the environment, resulting in very different outcomes based on the choices perceived and acted on.

We dont question the usefulness or effectiveness of something we have already learned, simply because what each of us has learned we experienced in some way. That is, we wont question what we have experienced just because we experienced it, meaning the reality of the

experience is based in our five senses: what is inside of us we either, felt, saw, heard, smelled or tasted. Thats real enough. Once an experience becomes a component part of our mental environment in the form of a memory, belief, or association, it becomes a part of what is commonly believed to be our identity and beyond question.

However, we are open to leam practically anything the environment has to offer, if we havent been previously exposed in some way. We will soak up first-time information like a sponge, regardless of what it is. However, once it is inside of us, we will either defend it or defend against it (hide from information in the environment that we dont want to acknowledge as a part of our mental environment), instead of making ourselves available to learn more of what the environment has to offer in the way of insight about itself or ourself as the case may be.

To defend against the intrusion of information requires energy. This investment in energy is commonly referred to as stress. The simplest definition that I can think of for stress is that it is what we feel when we axe actively blocking information from the environment. In physical terms stress is really no different from walking against the wind. Symbolically, the wind would represent various categories of environmental information we dont want to confront; our bodies walking against the wind would represent what we have already learned-what is already inside of us that blocks what is outside of us. The two forces clash and we feel stress.

One of the biggest ironies of life is that everyone wants to be right. In other words, everyone assumes what they have experienced and learned about the nature of the way things exist to be the true and correct version. The irony is everyones version is correct by virtue of the fact that what is inside all of us was experienced by our physical senses-if we saw it, if we read it, if we heard it, if we felt it, if we tasted it, if we smelled it, or any combination thereof, we experienced it. However, not everybodys version (of what the environment has to offer in the way of experiences) is particularly useful or effective as a resource for interacting with the environment in a way that would lead to satisfactory outcomes. Just because something gets input into our mental environment doesnt mean that its of any real value in helping us to fulfill ourselves.

A child has no way of conceptualizing how his experiences are forming beliefs about the nature of reality, concepts that would, in fact, be much different under different environmental conditions.

He unquestioningly takes an experience as a fact of reality because the beliefs he is forming are founded in feelings and emotions. He does not reflect on his experiences to assess the quality of the beliefs he is forming. He has no way of determining how these beliefs will either act as resources or obstacles to self-expression in the future.

The child doesnt understand that any belief that he forms will define reality in a way that excludes other possibilities or that he will make associations with experiences, lumping components of the environment together in ways that are very limiting and not practical. Many of these beliefs will just naturally be decharged as his attractions cause him to interact with the environment in new ways. All of us will just naturally grow into a new set of limitations as we expand our awarenesses by learning, which in turn releases us from things we used to believe. However, if the quality of the energy in many of our beliefs is negatively charged, then our fear will act as an obstacle to self-expression, limiting what we can perceive from the environment as possibilities.

For example, someone who grew up constantly being belittled or criticized by his parents knows exactly how that feels. The beliefs he forms about himself and his relationship witl the environment, as a result, were .ormed in a reality of pain. Certainly he wouldnt know, while growing up, that he was forming a beliei about his relative unworthiness as a person. Unworthiness is a concept that he may not learn about well into his adult years, and he may never learn how to release himself from the damaging effects. But in the meantime, his fear of being ridiculed and belittled will drastically limit the possibilities he perceives in the environment for self-expression. Many possibilities that seem self-evident to someone without this fear would be totally out of the realm of possibility for him.

An even bigger irony is that the more we acknowledge the possibility that our version of the way things exist isnt as effective of a resource as it could be, the more we make ourselves available to learn from the environment. By expanding our personal dot to include more of what is outside of us inside of us, the more it increases our level of correspondence with the outside, leaving less and less of what is out there that we dont know about, thereby increasing our ability to be right.

The more we allow ourselves to learn, the better able we are at making assessments about the probabilities that exist in some future

moment. How could we not be better off by learning something when you consider that the environment can act as a force on us in an almost infinite variety of ways, some of which we know about, many others we couldnt begin to anticipate unless we keep on learning in spite of what we already know? The more we believe we know, the more we make the environment prove to us that what we know isnt particularly useful or effective. The problem is that proof could be right in front of our noses and we wouldnt have the mental framework to recognize it, unless we willingly allowed ourselves to confront it and consider it. Otherwise, if we all knew so much, we wouldnt ever experience emotional pain, because it is a perfect indication that we dont know how to interact with the environment to our satisfaction-because if we did, we would.

All this should be somewhat apparent because it is not a typical human characteristic to actively gather and consider information that conflicts with what we already know and believe to be true. However, consider that hidden within the environmental information that we havent learned to perceive yet, either because we havent learned to make the appropriate distinctions or because the information is being blocked by our current set of beliefs, are a more appropriate set of Ąceps to fulfilling ourselves What we havent learned yet is outside of each one of us waiting to become a part of our personal dot. What we dont know represents all the information that could result in choices that have much more satisfying outcomes. However, since we cant know what we havent learned yet and what we do know blocks the perception of other alternatives that exist for satisfaction, we easily get caught in these terribly unsatisfying life cycles, believing that is all the world has to offer, when our predicament is merely the result of our inability to adapt ourselves. When we do allow ourselves to adapt, we learn that there are always more choices available than our beliefs will allow us to perceive. What I mean by adapt is to identify and actively change something that is already inside of us so there is a higher degree of correspondence between the inside and outside.

Each first-time experience with the physical environment creates a distinction in the mental environment about its nature. All information or possibilities that exist in the same category as that first experience will then be filtered perceptually through what we learned from that experience. Again I will use the example of a child

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