graphic: MetaSelf Logo

The mind is
inherently embodied.

— Lakoff & Johnson



Structuring the Self in Figurative Space: The Inside/Outside Contrast

graphic: In/Out Slide Show 01
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 02
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 03
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 04
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 05
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 06
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 07
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 08
graphic: In/Out Slide Show 09

Click the left/right arrows at the sides, or the dots beneath the slides to navigate. Hover over a slide to pause the slideshow.

Inner structure of the self includes both bodily space and figurative, mental space. The parts or figurative regions of the whole self are shown and discussed more fully in section on the Front/Back contrast.

The inside/outside contrast also locates the self relative to systems, which are seen as (relatively) bounded spaces. One is in (or out of) a relationship or a marriage, in a family, in a group, organization or community, etc. One can “put oneself in someone else’s shoes,” imaginatively changing perspective and empathizing with them.

A place or space is often a metaphor for a state of being or a state of mind. This is natural: if one's body is surrounded by a place, one's whole self is in that location, and a state of being or state of mind characterizes one's whole self at that moment.

Keywords and Prefixes for the Inside/Outside Contrast
Location, Position Inside and outside
Inwardly and outwardly
Inner and outer
Within and without
in- and ex- (Latin prefixes for in and out)
Motion In and out
Into and out from
Inward and outward
Phrases that Mediate the Inside/Outside Contrast
On the border, on the fence, on the threshold
Straddling, bridging; cross-over

The left-hand column of the table below contains important abstract and subjective aspects of the self. The right-hand column lists corresponding spatial phrases that ground these aspects in the body.

Thinking, Sensing, and Feeling
Abstract Contrasts, Concepts, etc. Bodily/Spatial words and phrases
Physical location, place, area,  field In, inside of / outside of
In a category, meeting a description Inside or outside a figurative space occupied by defined things
Routine and limited / creative Boxed in / thinking outside the box
Sensation / thought / fantasy In my body  / In my mind / In my imagination
In my emotionally true thoughts In my heart, …
Memories, hidden potentials, the subconscious In the back of my mind,…
Visceral information In my guts, I feel or I know…
Introversion / extroversion Focusing on one’s inner world / outer world
Comfort zone In my usual limits, my boundaries where I operate well
In a state of mind e.g.,  “in a good place”
Locating the Self within a Natural or Social System in Time and Space
Living Systems Theory article at Wikipedia
Abstract Contrasts, Concepts, etc. Bodily/Spatial words and phrases
A well-informed member of a group Insider
A stranger or non-member Outsider
A special sub-group one identifies with, Us vs. Them The ingroup / the outgroup, (see Ingroups and Outgroups article at Wikipedia)
Acting in a defined, regular way be in a role, be in character
Abstract Contrasts, Concepts, etc. Bodily/Spatial words and phrases
Being born vs. dying Coming into vs. going out of existence
Ultimate reality or beliefs about ultimate reality What we place “outside space and time”