How Do You Feel?
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How Do You Feel?


28 Oct How Do You Feel?

Yesterday, I’ve got to admit, was not a great day.

I was in Mobile, Alabama to speak to a small group of CEOs which sounds like a wonderful thing, right?. At the end of the presentation, as I usually do, I did my little resonance pitch.

‘If any of this resonates with you, feel free to give me a business card and we can arrange a follow up call’

That’s my hard sell. It’s not so hard, right?! And that’s where things took a turn for the worse.

You see, I didn’t get a huge number of leads at the end of the talk. I did get three leads – which is way better than none, but still quite disappointing. Out of the dozen or so people that were there, only three wanted to connect.

At the end of the day when I looked back, I found myself thinking “Man, that didn’t go so well, I really would have liked to have five or six leads instead of just three.”

In short, I talked myself into feeling bad. How do you feel?

I want to be clear about something, here. The feeling that I map onto the outcomes of my day is a decision that I make, internally. It’s got nothing to do with what happened in reality. It’s everything to do with what happened inside. It was my choice to feel bad and my freedom to change whenever I felt ready.

Internal vs. External Referencing

A couple of years back I met Deepak Chopra. We were interviewing people to come on my television show in Australia and he was someone I thought might be a fit. We got to spend a little bit of time together through his promoter and publisher Hay House.

While I was with him that day, we spoke about Internal and External References. This key concept is of daily importance in my life and perhaps it’ll help you, too.

An internal reference is a reference that you have that’s internal. In other words, it’s when you look inside yourself to figure out how you feel. It’s when you look inside yourself for your answers. So if you’re trying to figure out if you’re having a good day or a bad day, you look inside yourself and you make a decision.

External References, on the other hand, are based on events that transpire outside yourself. In other words, it’s when you look outside yourself to figure out what you should be feeling.

IN that sense, external references are like mirrors. And you get to pick your mirror!

  • If you have a lovely car, you think you’re doing well.
  • If you have lots of money, you think you’re doing great.
  • If you have a gorgeous spouse, you think you’re a great person.
  • If you (insert mirror here), then you feel (insert emotion here).

You look outside yourself for the signs that then determine how you feel in any one moment.

  • If things are going well out there, then you feel great.
  • If things are going badly out there, then you collapse into depression.

Living on the Rollercoaster

And so we come back to my story. I had decided that, because of the external reference to a lack of leads, I should feel disappointed and generally upset.

Of course, it turned out that those three people were terrific! I certainly got quality over quantity. Now I have three new clients! The day was actually an amazing success although it didn’t look like it at the time.

Yesterday I looked at the external references and found scarcity, pain and fear. Today, with exactly the same reality I found great new clients, joy and plenty. Relying on external references is like living on an emotional rollercoaster.

Wouldn’t it be better if I wasn’t on the rollercoaster at all?

Getting Off the Rollercoaster

My intention is to base my feelings on internal references. I would like to feel good all the time, not just when the stars align in my favor.

If I get lots of leads, good. If I don’t get any leads, that’s fine. If I have a nice car, that’s good. If I don’t, well that’s OK too. All of these things are part of the perfect unfolding of life in its mystery.

Whatever happens is fine because it’s my internal reality that matters to me. It’s my internal reality that defines how I feel and how I feel about myself. Well, I’d like to think so!

Emotional Mastery

I would love tell you that I have mastered this practice. I’d love to suggest that I’m highly internally referenced with an even temperament and a “highly evolved soul.” The truth is that I find it very difficult to separate how I feel from the reality that’s unfolding around me.

The best I can say is that I intend to become more consistently internally referenced over time. Check back with me next year, we’ll see.


What are your thoughts? Are you internally or externally referenced? Maybe here is a good place to leave some comments and share your thoughts.

Tim Levy

Tim Levy is an author, speaker, consultant and coach working with CEOs and entrepreneurs on clarity, strategy and mindset. He runs a strategic marketing agency out of Austin, Texas. He routinely speaks for leading organizations like Vistage International, Conscious Capitalism and Secret Knock. Tim’s intention is to radically accelerate and enable highly purposeful CEOs and entrepreneurs in their business and personal lives.

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