141. Internal and External Reference Points

I’m excited to share today’s topic – Internal and External Reference Points. As missionaries and returned missionaries, it’s so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and seeking validation externally.

In this episode, I introduce the vacuum concept. Using this concept, it will help us all to learn to look inside ourselves for validation, rather than seeking it externally. 

Making decisions and determining your worth from a place of inner assurance is challenging but so important, both on your mission and beyond. I hope you’ll give these tools a try to begin looking internally. As always, please reach out if you have any other questions. 

If you found this episode helpful, I want to invite you to subscribe if you aren’t already, share this episode with your friends and write a review. I know this work will help missionaries around the world and it would mean so much to me if you did. Until next week my friends.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 141 internal and external reference points. I’m Jennie the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:53 Hey, everybody, guess what it is? March 1. So super proud of myself for making it to march 1. Winters are tough for me. I think I’ve mentioned that a few times on the podcast, but for some reason. Like, we may even get a little sprinkle of snow in March. But like, I know that we’re on the up and up as we head into summer. So congrats on making it to march 1, if winters are hard for you to, I’m just excited that we’re heading into spring spring is actually well, I think maybe we guys ever considered what your favorite seasons are in order. These are mine. So I think I like summer, first spring second. And then I like fall. And then winter. Definitely not my favorite. Christmas is fun. But not winter is not my favorite. But many of you might be like oh falls, my favorite fall is my husband’s favorite, too. So anyway, just a little tidbit, we I think we’re just gonna dive in today, I’m not gonna, like, give you any updates or anything like that, because I’m actually I’ve actually been thinking about this episode for a while. And I’ve been trying to sort of make sense of it and my brain and like, why it matters before I really shared it with you. And

2:36 it’s this concept that I’ve been thinking about called internal and external reference points. In fact, sometimes as I’m sort of, like creating outlines for podcasts and things like that, I’ll put some ideas down there and actually, underneath my desk when I will. So I have this little platform where my laptop sits where I meet with clients and things like that, and my camera sets. And then when I’m meeting with clients, and having phone calls and strategy calls and emails and messaging with people, something will spark an idea for me for a podcast. And then I write it on a sticky note and there so there’s like, maybe like 20 sticky notes right here under my little platform where my computer sits. And so um, I had come up with this idea when I was talking to someone and maybe with some Markopolos with some of my friends and with my sisters. But and then I was like, Oh, I’m gonna talk about it on this day. But I decided, sometimes I’ll get to closer that day. And I’m like, is not totally formulated yet. I’m not quite ready to talk about it. But now, I feel ready to talk about it. And so hopefully, this concept can give you something to sort of think about and something you can use on your mission or after your mission. As you’re headed out into your mission. Maybe even if you’re a missionary mom, I think that this could help you in the way that you see your kids in the way that we see ourselves and all of that good stuff. So I hope that I’m able to share with you kind of all of the things that have been formulating in my mind over the last several weeks actually.

4:28 So this is what I was thinking about is how our tribal remember that primitive brain is really so strong, and I use a lot of words to describe this. Next week we’re going to talk about it in with the idea that it’s a toddler brain but other words I use are like caveman brain, primitive brain, tribal brain. This lower part of our brain superimpose Orton super important for the plan of salvation, super important for the plan of happiness and slash sadness that we’re all here to experience on this earth, also important for our survival. And so this is a really integral piece of just our existence here. Now one of the things that our brain and does is it tends to get a little bit tribal. And what I mean by that is, it likes to look around outside of us. And notice, do we fit in here? Or do we not fit in here. And without us even knowing it, we tend to sort of start to have this undercurrent of beliefs that are given to us from the outside, about pretty much everything. Almost everything we do, like there’s this thread that runs through, okay, in how we interact with others in the clothes that we wear, and what we choose to eat, and what we choose to do, especially in this time, I feel like influencers and social media, and things like that. We see something on Pinterest or on social media, and we’re like, oh, yeah, and we want to do that. But the reason why is because our brain tells us like, if you’re, if you’re doing what these people are doing, you’re good, you’re gonna be safe. If we think about the actual primitive times and actual tribal situations, being part of the quote unquote, tribe meant life or death. Like even in a caveman situation, if we, for some reason didn’t fit in, or we were seen as the quote, unquote, weakest link in a group, and maybe we were cast out of the tribe or out of the group, that often meant death. Because we wouldn’t have a food source, we wouldn’t have protection, right. And so we would just be left to our own devices, which actually meant death.

7:19 So, it’s going to look at how sisters, so and so is operating in her mission and think, well, we need to do it that way. And we’re going to look at this social media influencer, and we’re gonna think we need to do it that way. And we need to wear what she’s wearing. Or we’re gonna look at elder, whoever he is, you know, that’s the district leader. And we think, Oh, well, we definitely need to do it that way. So all of it makes sense, I think that always has to be the first thing that we understand is that naturally, what our brain will do on default, is to look for external reference points for validation. Okay, and I came up with a few areas that we do this, it will look to external reference points for beliefs about ourselves, it’ll look to external reference points for decision making, and what we gravitate towards and what we don’t gravitate towards. And it’ll also will, it will also look to external reference points for beliefs about others, and how we see them. Okay. So I think all of this is really just good to know, again, always here, we’re just trying to create awareness for what’s possibly going on for us. So this could also manifest in sort of people pleasing, like, I’m deserving how people behave around me. And if I behave a certain way, then I can, our brain thinks maybe we can control them, or maybe we’ll get more validation from them. From something outside of them, it might manifest in perfectionism. Like if I can control my environment and my output, and what my schoolwork looks like, or my missionary work looks like, then I will get some validation from that. So notice how all of these things are out side of us, the influencers, the schoolwork, the the goals that we’re meeting on our mission, things that other people say things that other people do, and how they react towards us are all external reference points for validation. So as far as beliefs about ourselves, we usually you use external reference points to decide how we feel about our bodies. And even this is like to go so far as to say even just a mirror is an external reference point for information about whether to validate or invalidate our body. How well were you doing as a missionary? Again, we’ve talked a little bit about like, goals. And whether we’re meeting our goals, we rely on what our district leader the feedback our district leader gives us, or the feedback that our mission president gives us, or the feedback that our companion gives us, or the feedback that our parents give us. Okay? We often look to external reference points, sometimes we compare ourselves and look at other missionaries. And am I measuring up? Am I meeting quote, unquote, a standard based on what’s outside of me, we also look for that validation based on what someone tells us, right? That could be our friends, it can be, like, I’ve already mentioned our companions and our roommates. And we also default towards external reference points. For all of this comparison, maybe how many baptisms is the mission next door getting how maybe you’re recently engaged, and you compare your engagement photos to someone else’s engagement photos, and the interesting thing is, is like if we didn’t have those external reference points, to compare those photos to, we would just decide that we love our photos, okay, and if we didn’t have the mirrors, and if we didn’t have all of this external noise, all of these external reference points, then we would most likely feel pretty good about ourselves. Okay. And this is not to say that we shouldn’t have external reference points. But I want us to be careful about when we use these external reference points, to make ourselves feel good about ourselves versus going inside, and we’re going to talk about what that looks like to use an internal reference point. Okay. As far as decision making, goes, many times, we will use external reference points, like, Well, this was my brother’s major, so maybe I should choose that major, or I had a person tell me that I’m really good at art. So then maybe I should choose that as my major. Okay. Also, something to figure out is, are you doing what you are doing? Because it’s something you really want from the inside? Or are you doing what you’re doing? Are you making those decisions? Because it’s what someone else wants for you. Okay, so is your motivation to decide a third certain thing? Like, I want this to be my goal, or I want to marry this person? Or whatever it is, is that coming from an outside source? Or is it coming from an inside sort of intuition or knowing? Right, that that is, what is the thing that you should do? Or that you even want to do? Okay, so sometimes, instead of seeking that external validation, or those external reference points, make sure you go inside. And the thought that just came to my mind is maybe like, I think we’ve all seen the movies or heard stories about someone who just decided they were, they got engaged, and they were just going along with it, and everybody wanted it for them. And everybody said, You guys are perfect together. And then they just kept going along with it and like, basing their decision on external reference points, and then right before the wedding, they go inside to their internal reference point. And they decide, actually, this isn’t what I want. Right? We’ve all heard those stories. So again, nothing wrong with having an external reference point. I just want us to become aware of what our brains do on default is the external because it wants to fit into the group. It wants to fit into the tribe. It wants to be safe, it doesn’t want to be cast out and die, right and the cold and starve to death. So we just need to maybe be a little bit more aware. So even our beliefs about others are we are assuming things about people, based on what someone else has said, are we using an external reference point? Maybe there’s a missionary in your mission that everybody says, oh, that missionaries so negative or that missionary is so lazy? Are we like engaging in that mission? Gossip about that person? In using external reference points, what other people have said? Or are we finding out for ourselves, going inside talking to the person specifically, and just finding out for yourself, what you think about that person?

15:49 Maybe we’re making assumptions about how someone else would want to be handled or treated. Instead of just asking, like, maybe you’ve had someone an external reference point that says something like, Oh, if there’s a missionary struggling on the mission, you just need to tell them that their anxiety is bad, or something like that, or we just need to ignore their anxiety or we need just tell them to toughen up. When x in actuality, that’s an external reference point, we’re not getting to the root of that person’s that’s experiencing the anxiety, their internal reference point, and you are getting to know what is true for them. And many times, it can just be so powerful, instead of assuming, or coming from outside external reference points, to just ask someone. Okay, maybe we make assumptions about people in general. And we, there are beliefs about them, just by the external reference points that we see. Right? Like, this person isn’t at church, so they must blank, or this person, I saw them, I don’t know, skip class, or whatever. And so they must be blank, or this person must, this person didn’t get up on time on the mission, so they must be blank. Notice how these are all external ways and reference points, either to make judgments about ourselves, make decisions, or to make judgments and assessments about other people. Now, here’s the thing, I have two things, and there’s probably way more that can be problematic. About only using outside reference points, to validate ourselves or to make assumptions about other people, is if we, okay, let’s decide that we do want to use external reference points to validate ourselves to make decisions to just go with what quote unquote, the tribe is doing or what the group is doing. And, you know, make all of those comparisons, we might get some actually really fun validation from that, it’s kind of like me, when I get an email from someone that say, oh, my gosh, the podcast is helping me so much, thank you so much, or I get an email from a mom, that’s like, thank you so much for the work that you’re doing, you’re making such a difference. It’s changed my missionaries, life, all of those things. Those things feel really good. But it’s an external reference point, someone who’s observed something about me and sent me some validation. Now, the problem with using external reference points for validation, one of the problems is, if we use the positive, external reference point, our brain assumes that the negative external reference point must also be true. So let’s say I get some different feedback. And I do on my Facebook ads all the time. Like, who do you think you are? Like, why do you think you can Oh, missionary, like so many, and actually, sometimes actually very personal attacks on me as a person. And so if I’m getting all of my validation, making all of my decisions and basing all of my beliefs on external reference points, and even for the positive, then the inverse has to be true, and our brain believes, then the negative must also be true, too. So then I’m in validating myself, my brain believes well, that must be true and then I feel invalidated by the things outside of me. Okay, when instead if I just went inside and validated myself from the inside, and went from internal reference points of what I actually think about myself, and what I actually want to decide And when I actually think about other people, then I’m sort of a little bit removed from not only the positive, but the negative as well, when people kind of come at me. One of the examples of this right is I was messaging with someone who was telling me how it’s hard because they’re on social media, and they’re starting this business. And they said, I just, like, feel so good when I get all these likes, and I get all these comments, and people are saying, Yeah, keep going, I love the work you’re doing. And she’s like, and then I feel really good. But then, like, if I have a post that only gets a few likes, and then I feel really bad, that’s an emotional roller coaster, this person was using external reference points and ideas from other people watching their behavior, to know whether she was doing a good job or not. Instead of like, just deciding, I’m doing a good job, this is what I want. And I’m gonna keep going. Here’s the other kind of thing that can be problematic about only using external reference points since let me share an example of returning missionaries. Often, we don’t have external reference points, to sort of keep leading us along and telling us we’re a good job. We’re doing a good job. I talked to a returned missionary last week. And she said to me, I felt so good on the mission. And I said, Well, yeah, you did, because you had a lot of people telling you, you had a good, you were doing a good job, your parents probably told you that your mission president probably told you that the members were telling you that, like, you had a lot of external reference points, a lot of things you could observe yourself doing, that allowed you to get that validation, and you probably got it from a lot of external reference points, but then we get home. And we don’t have the same ability to have all of these external reference points just kind of laid out for us like here, here’s a way to feel good, here’s a way to validate yourself, here’s a way to validate yourself. Instead, a lot of that goes away when we get home from the mission. And so her self confidence then in this is what I see a lot with returned missionaries is our self confidence starts to go down. Whereas if we can create this place, inside an internal reference point of that we’re doing a good job, that it’s okay, that were willing to feel and like, I’m okay, I love me, no matter what’s going on outside of me. That is the confidence that lasts that is you need to validate you, instead of being on this roller coaster of like, I’m getting my validation from here, and I’m getting my validation from here, and it will feel good. I promise. It feels good when people say stuff to you like that. And you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. But be careful about completely relying on that. You also need to create a space where you do that for you from the inside.

23:24 So I came up with this concept of called the vacuum, which is for me, I like to think about it. Like if I existed in a vacuum. How would I think about myself, like I actually picture myself like in a year, that’s like a clear year. And if I didn’t have the noise, and if I didn’t have the social media, and if I didn’t have all these external reference points telling me how I should look and what I should decide and what I should think about these other people and how I should run my business. What would I actually do? What would I actually think about myself? And what would I actually want to feel so I recommend that we do this often. And maybe you think of it more like meditation or we get really present but let me share a couple of just quick ideas about how you can create this vacuum for yourself. Or a clear your, if you want to call it that where the noise is cut away. So the first thing is clear the mind clutter. So all the thoughts and ideas about how you should look or be just goes away. We’re like, okay, so what if I couldn’t hear any of that? What if I didn’t know that Stanley’s work cool? Or whatever? Right? What what I do then another thing, create a little bubble around yourself. And this is what I mean by like a clear yurt like you can actually in your mind’s eye create a safe like quiet space where you don’t have to Taking that noise. And maybe it’s like you turn off your phone, or maybe you step away from a conversation or whatever you need to do, to allow yourself to have a little bit of your own mind space, your own time to think and feel what you want to think instead, think and feel instead, get present. So you can ask yourself, instead of popping to the past, and going into the future, and popping to the past, and you know, taking in all this information from all these external reference points, just get present, and ask yourself, what feels true right now. I do this with my clients a lot when they’re like, I don’t know, I think maybe Heavenly Father is disappointed in me, I’m like, actually, let’s just get still what feels true right now. And when we get still, and when we create that vacuum, what we realize is actually Heavenly Father probably loves us a lot. And he thinks we’re doing a good job. Okay? Also try trusting your gut, and your intuition. Our heavenly parents trust you and they gave you this brain and they gave you this body and they gave you, you know, you have your spirit, you have access to them, you have access to the Holy Ghost, to make decisions, and to really trust yourself, because they trust you. And so instead of external, like, Am I doing a good job, everybody? Hey, everybody, by doing a good job, you just feel like no, I know I am. They trust me, I am doing a good job. And then the last thing I have for you is find ways to see the bigger picture. Sometimes I think we get so in the weeds of our lives, and our social media and have this like tribal think like this group mindset think that we tend to have just because of the world we live in. And because we’re on the mission, and everybody looks the same as us. And everyone’s kind of dressed the same as us. And we’re all wearing the same name tags, sometimes give yourself an opportunity to see the bigger picture, which I mean, even like a zoom out, like the eternal perspective, or how maybe this little thing that we’re super worried about right now, how does that apply in the bigger scheme of things? And if once we zoom out, does it even? Does it even apply? And some of the ways I like to get a bigger picture, right is obviously reading your scriptures attending the temple and praying. And I like to do these things, because it gives me a better perspective. It gives me insights, to see sort of beyond what’s just right in front of me. And the things I’m worried about right now and my own insecurities and and be like, oh, there’s there’s something bigger here. There’s an there’s something bigger within me. All of us have divinity within us already. It’s not kind of cool. You guys. Like we’ve been told that we’re His children, our heavenly parents, their children, which means we have their own DNA within within us right now. So we actually have the ability to go inside for answers and to look within ourselves. But sometimes it takes creating this vacuum, right?

28:35 Okay. So again, just to reiterate outside recognition, getting like that validation from external reference points can be fun, it can be helpful, it can build you up for a while. But ultimately, we will feel the most content, the most confident, the most fulfilled, the most full of worth, when what we’re creating and what we’re choosing to do. And the way that we’re choosing to think about people comes from inside of us, like from a grounded place i i thought of this quote that I was reminded of by Brene Brown. And it really like struck me this week when I heard it, it says don’t shrink, don’t puff up, stand your sacred ground. And I love that so much. Because nobody outside of you knows better than you. Your sacred ground is you and you have that divinity within you. So when you’re getting ready to create ideas about how you see yourself maybe with decision making, also with how you want to see others practice instead of going to all the external reference points. Maybe go inside. Maybe create your little vacuum or your clear yogurt and ask yourself what you really want. Because you have access to that divinity, and to that sacred ground anytime you want it, which is actually so, so cool. So, alright guys, I hope all this helps, I hope it makes sense. Go inside, cut out as much external reference points as you can and validate you because you’re so amazing. So, so amazing. All right, everyone have the most amazing week, and we’ll talk to you next time.

30:40 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges, and many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries, my video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in just now that Jenny the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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