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The Practices of “Going In” and “Going Out”

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A Reflection on Self-Regulation and Healthy Attachments

The temperature has dropped, and we can feel the chill of autumn. It is the time of year in which we come together indoors, while still spending time outside enjoying the gentle seasonal shifts of our Southern California environment. Our climate in LA allows us to make this a period of time that accommodates both going in, and going out, giving us choice as to whether we want to spend time finding comfort in a cozy living room by the fire, or hiking in the sunshine to take in a mountain view.

As a psychotherapist hosting my clients within the walls of La Maida, I see connections made daily from both the practice of “going in” and the practice of “going out”. Here we learn to “go in” through learning ways we can self-attune to, identify, and regulate our emotional states, as well as learn to “go out” by becoming better equipped with the precious resource of creating healthy attachments to loved ones in our lives.

Researchers in various areas of sciences within the field of interpersonal neurobiology have repeatedly validated the great benefits of being able to “go in” through the use of contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation.

Having an extensive background in Contemplative Psychology, an integrative psychological approach that honors both traditional western psychology and the wisdom of eastern psychology, I often reflect on the important interplay between learning to rely on oneself from a place of non-attachment and depending on that which is external for lasting satisfaction through nourishing healthy reciprocal dependence through attachments with others. Researchers in various areas of sciences within the field of interpersonal neurobiology have repeatedly validated the great benefits of being able to “go in” through the use of contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation, as well as “go out” by having secure relationships that we depend on for love and support. The benefits of both have been proven to exist not only within the realm of emotional satisfaction and happiness but have been shown to directly benefit our physiology as well by increasing our body’s ability to combat and recover from disease.

Working with clients of various ages and backgrounds, I have seen a true hallmark of ongoing wellness, and the capacity to recover quickly from stressors, to be one’s ability to have balance and resource in both “going in” and “going out”. Based on our dispositions and personal histories, we may lean more toward one or the other. Perhaps skills related to self-regulation were never taught or modeled growing up? Maybe our experiences have led us to believe that reaching out to others and connections is not safe, or that it is weak to depend on others?

Neglecting to honor that our minds and bodies are resources in themselves, or that we are social beings who emotionally and physically need connections with others, can leave us in a state of imbalance and disease.

These practices are dependent upon one another and are of equal importance and value. Neglecting to honor that our minds and bodies are resources in themselves, or that we are social beings who emotionally and physically need connections with others, can leave us in a state of imbalance and disease. However, to be capable of being there for ourselves, and also able to call upon others for support, enables us to thrive and experience what it is to be fully human.

I invite all of us to take time to look at the ways we “go in” and “go out” for care, comfort, and love, and how we may be holding back from embracing one or the other. Let the results of our reflections be sources of inspiration for our continued work of evolving toward balance and wholeness, so we can become sources of wisdom and compassion for ourselves and others.

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