My husband and I recently did something called The Marriage Course. Having spent seven weeks focusing in on our marriage and how we can make it even better, I am feeling inspired to share some of the things that have really helped us. This post is all about teaching you how to live from the inside out.
To understand this post best and where I am coming from, I recommend reading my previous post called Marriage Game Changer.
What does it mean to live inside out?
It means allowing your values to guide your behaviour and actions rather than allowing outside influences to dictate how you act, think and feel. Living from the inside out means you choose how you respond. It involves making choices based on what you value – based on who you are.
When I first heard about this concept of living from the inside out, the hardest thing I had to look at was how much weight I was giving to other people’s opinions of me. I had a long standing habit of allowing other people to dictate the choices I was making, consciously and unconsciously. Did you know that it’s actually possible to rely too much on one of your values? When you do that, it almost becomes more of a defense mechanism rather than living authentically to who you are.
One of my values is empathy. For me this looks like showing genuine interest in other people and what is going on in their lives and actively listening. It also looks like being sensitive to what other people are thinking and feeling. Here’s the problem: I grew up making choices based on my perception of what other people were thinking and feeling.
Let me say that again. I made decisions based on my perception of what other people were thinking and feeling.
Not based on what people told me they were thinking and feeling, only what I thought they were thinking and feeling. Talk about exhausting! Much of the thought behind my decisions was based strictly on how it would affect other people. Yes, it’s good to have an awareness of the needs of others but not at the expense of my other values.
Where am I going with all of this?
I just wanted to illustrate for you how important it is to really know your values and any areas you might be leaning too much on one value over the others. When someone else knows what your values are and what they mean specifically to you, they can help keep you accountable with living out all of your values.
When I was so focused on other people’s thoughts, feelings, and needs, I forgot to be loving and authentic to my own thoughts, feelings, and needs. It really has helped having my husband know what my values mean to me so that he can challenge me to live according to all of them.
Let’s get practical
I promised in my last post to share some practical ways to live from the inside out so here are a few that my husband and I have found helpful:
- Write down your values and put them up somewhere around the house.
For our wedding, some friends created a board with our values listed side by side on it and it is currently in our room on the wall behind our bed. Put your values up somewhere where they will be noticed often so that you have a visual reminder of what they are.
- Match up a Scripture with each of your values.
You were created by God, so the chances that He has something to say about qualities He created in you are pretty good. Also, when you root your values, the core of who you are, in the Word, it gives you even more of a foothold when the enemy tries to get you to believe lies about yourself. Trust Jesus and those who know you best.
- Find someone who will challenge you to live according to those values.
Whether this is your spouse or a close friend or mentor, find someone you trust to challenge you to make decisions based on your values. And give them the room to call you out if you’re relying too much on one value – or if you’re ignoring them completely!