Are you inner or Outer Directed

Are you inner or outer directed?

The inner-directed person listens to their own heart. The outer-directed person follows advice and instructions from outside sources. They conform. They relinquish their control over their own life to another source. Most of us are a combination of the two extremes.

The outer-directed person is afraid to be different. He is afraid to stand out or to make waves and will fear to take a stand on important issues. It’s safer to wear a uniform, to belong, and to think uniform thoughts and to squash any signs of being different or unique. He follows the crowd and fears being alone. His desire is to be a team player and to therefore belong to a group. There’s a certain amount of safety in numbers. Tradition is also important. What was good enough for my ancestors is good enough for me. It gives one a feeling of comfort and the continuity of life. Some societies tend to be more conformist than others. Japan has been known to encourage conformity, while the French were thought of as being more in favor of celebrating the uniqueness of the individual.

Whereas the inner directed person is the rebel. He remains true to himself despite the personal cost. He’s not afraid of going against the grain or the crowd. He believes in himself first and foremost. If there is a God, then that God is within. This country was built on the idea of the courageous pioneer. It takes a great deal of confidence to be different. He follows his own voice, his own perception of what is right and what is wrong. He’s the whistle-blower who might be admired but few are strong and gutsy enough to follow his lead.

The Wild West was an example of the non-conformist, and its symbol was the cowboy. The loner, pitted against the elements, doing his job against the backdrop of a still virgin wilderness. Drinking from the streams of fresh undiluted water. Living the life that even in this age of big cities, the cowboy is still recognized as a symbol of individuality.

Now, if a lawn is left unmowed and returns to its natural beauty of tall grass and wild flowers, it can become an affront to the community which tends to prefer a sameness of manicured lawns. Few wish to buck the tide or make waves. We don’t want to make a ‘scene’. And so we suppress our inner desires for the sake of belonging.