I've been blogging about self-help psychology for a while now, emphasizing how it helped change me, and how changing me then changed my life. I learned from the books I read, ideas and understandings that were relevant to what was happening in my life. If I was having a problem getting along with a boss I might find a book about exactly this topic. Or I might read every book I could find about relating to others, improving communication, resolving conflict, and so on. But I was never interested in changing my boss, for example. I was always more interested in becoming someone that my boss might respect and hear. So, the books I read were mostly books about me, about understanding myself better, and changing belief and behaviours and feeling and thinking from something less effective in my world to something more effective.
We each are the centre of our own life, yet few of us live that way. If we've had a series of bad relationships and can't find just the right gal or guy made for us, well, aside from the fact that we simply haven't yet met her or him, the other constant in every situation is us. It is only natural to focus outward from ourselves, the outer surface of ourselves actually, on the world 'out there' in front of us. We believe we are physical beings in a physical world, so of course that world has to be monitored and handled. The very survival of our ancestors depended upon good outward focusing, monitoring, handling. We modern Western humans, typically, don't struggle to survive in the same way. But all humans, past and present, are born helpless, our survival dependent upon the world outside us. By adulthood we are well-trained in the habit of continually looking outward at the world, each of with some degree of defensiveness or aggressiveness, or both.
It seems to me that I was always a bit more inwardly focused than a typical human. I'm a thinker. I think about life, a lot, especially life's meaning, and I think about myself relative to life and did so even before stumbling upon self-help psychology which at its best is schooling in thinking about life and self and self relative to life. Being a thinker led me to self-help psychology which directed my attention inward. I might have been a thinker but I thought about things at life's surface. I didn't know I could go deeper inside myself. As I read self-help psychology, however, I did go inside myself, back up inside myself really. I didn't ignore what was happening in my world but I became aware of me within my world, looking out at my world from deeper and deeper within me. As I moved deeper and deeper within my own awareness or consciousness, I got closer and closer to the centre of me, which I have described as the essence of being human. I also increasingly understood myself to be the centre of my world, the centre of life.
While focusing from my surface outward, in my earlier years, life seemed to me to be a matter of me versus world, or vice versa. But as self-help psychology backed me up deeper and deeper inside myself I noticed more and more that life was really a matter of me matching my world, or vice versa. I saw what I expected to see. Sometimes my perspective coloured my view of my world. Other times my perspective seemed to draw what I experienced in my world. More than simply noticing the world matching my perception, self-help psychology also suggested changing my perception at times when the world was not what I wanted but seemed resistant to physical change. Day after day, week after week, year after year, I experimented with changing my perception and noticed corresponding change in my world. Sometimes I saw my world differently and that was enough. Other times the world out in front of me actually changed.