Last fall, I asked a colleague, Davida, for some help with creating and sticking with routines. Countless times over the decades, I’ve created organizing systems, workout routines…only to eventually abandon them. Earlier that year, I had some health challenges, which I’d overcome, but which left me in their wake with a weakened body, fifteen pounds lighter than when the year started. As the year came to the end, I decided to put into place a 1-hour workout routine each morning to rebuild some basic strength and flexibility. The stakes were high, so motivation was a given: in my entire life, I’d never before been as weak, tired, and in poor shape. I wanted to get back to my former activity level, to feel physically competent, and to start hiking again.

After a few weeks on my very sensible and enjoyable program, I missed a few days. An early appointment one day, not feeling good another, always there’s a good excuse. I started again, then missed nearly a week. The fact that my life and health were at stake seemed to have no effect on my commitment.

I shared all this with Davida, as well the long, sorry history of abandoned routines that stretched back to my childhood. I finished; we sat quietly for a few minutes, and then she asked me, “What did you hope to get out of these routines?”

The words flew out of my mouth, “A feeling of accomplishment. A sense that I’m taking care of myself. That I’m being responsible.”

Davida nodded and smiled. “Can you see how outside-in you are on all these routines? You’re giving yourself these tasks so you can feel a certain way. And you know that’s not how we humans work.”

A flash—instant recognition! It was like in one instant I discover that I am blind, and the very next instant my sight is restored. After three years studying and teaching the inside-out understanding, as well as becoming a transformative coach, I knew that a basic implication of the inside-out principles is that nothing in the outside world, whether an activity, person, or event, can create a feeling inside of us. I almost laughed; once again I’d been caught in the misunderstanding– that what I was experiencing came from anything ‘out there,’ which included my eminently reasonable expectations.

Davida and I sat silently, as the truth sank in. So obvious! So simple, and right in front of my nose! I looked back into my history of failed habits and routines. Always hoping for that good feeling of accomplishment, or pride in taking care of myself. But those feelings came from me, from the gift of thought, only and forever.

I looked deeper inside for the true source of those cherished, elusive feelings, and began to experience a warm glow. It began as blush in my cheeks, crept down my chest and ribs and into my gut. It was very pleasant, both familiar and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. A nice feeling, as my teachers often say when describing the experience of insight.

I looked into Davida’s eyes and felt her curiousity, but I couldn’t find words to describe what was happening. And then, from a quiet stillness inside, it occurred to me that what I was feeling was kindness. Kindness for me. Kindness from me, for me.

The understanding blossomed and grew, tears filled my eyes. This was new, this was the first time in my life that I’d ever experienced kindness for myself. The soft and gentle caress of Love. Uncovered at last.

* Postscript: It’s eight months later and I can report that I’m enjoying and following with greater ease the routines I create for myself. Even looking forward to them now and then! Do I miss a day here and there? Yes, and I’m back the next day. Transformation—living and teaching it every day!