For me, the gravitational pull of the extrinsic and external is my greatest source of anxiety. This sense of detachment from my inner self produces a sense of untetheredness. It makes me overly-sensitive, over-reactive. In this state, I tend to modify myself in order to get acceptance. I pursue what I think will make me happy — forgetting that I’m already happy.

In simple but true terms, “doing” is extrinsic and “being” is intrinsic. Doing is an external activity. Being is an internal state of consciousness.

Similar to the war on self-worth (a future topic), the pull of the extrinsic manifests in several ways in my life. Maybe some of these will resonate with your own experience.

  • I often find myself trying to see how others see me. This puts me in the doing mode of creating an image. I want others to see me as successful, attractive, confident, enlightened. So my energy is focused on doing whatever is necessary to create this image. To be intrinsic is to be your true self in any situation or any condition. There is no doing here. Just a sense of being; of connectedness to your own self-worth. This intrinsic place is fleeting for me.
  • I frequently attach way too much value to to my to-do list. It literally has the word “do” in it! While certainly things need to get done, I must be cautious of the highly addictive solidity of task. The mind loves the sense of meaning and value of getting things done. This is the essence of what it means to be a workaholic. There will always be something on the to-do list. But to combat it’s narcotic effect, I also need a “To-Be” list. This would include things like being connected to God, being compassionate towards others, being open to adventure. The list is endless.
  • I know I’m in a high state of extrinsic doing when I am worrying about what other people are doing. The irony is rich. I am making my doing about what other people are doing. In this place lies obsession, lust, resentment, judgement. It is a detachment from the humanity of others because doing detaches me from my own humanity. There is a place for being when it comes to others. This would include observation, curiosity, connecting. Being is looking beneath the surface of the behavior of others to understand and listen to their souls.

Like almost everything in life, the solution is awareness. And awareness comes from asking good questions. Like …

Am I grounded in my soul or grasping for attention?

Am I loving people where they are or judging them from afar?

Am I seeking the root or chasing the fruit?

Can I look into someones eyes — including my own?

Doing is ultimately self-absorption. This is sometimes necessary at a survival level. That’s why its gravitational pull is so strong. But there’s no growth here. The to-do list just changes.

Being is ultimately self-worthiness. It’s the surety of knowing that you are connected to permanent things like love, truth, goodness, creativity. Our soul is wired to need these things. And this is most certainly where growth is. The to-be list just expands.

 

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