“Our experience of life is created from the Inside-Out via the principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought”— Michael Neill
On this week’s rerun of Insightful Conversations, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Mark Howard. Mark is the founder of the Three Principles Institute in Belmont, California. As an early student of Sydney Banks, Mark is recognized as one of the pioneers in bringing the 3 Principles into the field of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Addiction.
When I asked Mark how the 3 Principles had impacted his life, both professionally and personally, he smiled and said, “quite a bit.” Mark shared how growing up in the fifties; he had formed some beliefs about what it meant to be a man in our culture. He described himself as critical and judgmental, believing that he was always right and other people were wrong. It was his way or the highway. He was argumentative and liked to debate. Not in an overtly aggressive way, but he acknowledges he had an edge to him.
Even though Mark had carved out a successful career for himself as a Psychologist, his impatience and frustration were getting the better of him. He was increasingly losing his temper and snapping at those around him. This behavior was particularly noticeable in his marriage. Mark said his relationship was good except for his belief that his wife needed to change or fix herself for him to be happy.
Realizing that he didn’t want to continue reacting in this way, Mark reached out to some friends who had supported him throughout the years. They suggested that he speak with a man named Sydney Banks. Within their very first meeting together, Mark experienced a significant insight. He saw that all his feelings were made of thought. This one insight was revolutionary to him. He realized that he didn’t need to change his circumstances, his job, or his wife for him to be happy. That was the beginning of Mark’s transformation into the kind, gentle-mannered man we know today.
How many of us can relate to Mark’s story? I know I can. Before coming across the Principles, I, too, felt like a victim of my circumstances and the people in my life. I spent countless hours trying to micromanage and control other people and my environment, believing that “I’d be happy when” they changed. As you can imagine, this was exhausting at best and futile at worst. It was like playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. Just when I thought I had mastered one “problem,” another one popped up!
It’s important to realize that this attempt at controlling everyone and everything in our environment is not our fault. In Western culture, we’ve been raised to believe we live in an outside-in world, where our feelings are a direct result of our outer experiences. Given this, if we are unhappy, it makes perfect sense for us to try and change our circumstances and the people in our lives to experience a different feeling.
The truth is, we live in an inside-out world, where our feelings directly result from our thinking in the moment. As difficult as this was for me to see at first, once I saw it, I was free. Free of blaming my situation, free of blaming other people, free of feeling like a victim. As freeing as this realization is, it’s essential to be gentle with ourselves. We can only see what we see when we are ready to see it.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕