Before we begin, as usual, let's pause and take a deep breath.
Then say to yourself, "I'm learning now."
In the previous lesson, we learned about the brain's four responses to threats.
In this lesson, we'll learn more about how we prepare ourselves to overcome threats.
Now, overcoming a threat feels like a big shot of Aliveness, a very pleasant contrast.
If we get to the highest threat level, however, our brain shuts down as much as possible without actually killing us, and we can get severely traumatized, so it's preferable to overcome threats as early and easily as possible.
To achieve this, the brain could spend its energy trying to predict all possible threats, all the time, but that's not sustainable, and it would lead to death anyway from decision paralysis and starvation.
It's much more effective to cultivate strong life supports, of which there are three categories that correspond to levels zero, one, and two of our threat responses.
There are our skills and tools, which can help us get past simple threats and prevent their future occurrence by creating solid shelter, reliable food sources, or...client databases.
There are our relationships with other people, who can help us when we don't have the right skill or tool to handle a threat on our own.
And then there's our own physical and mental fitness, which can help us fight, or run in the right direction if we really have to.
We need all three of these categories of support because each of them helps us survive in a different way, and we can't predict all the possible threats we might face.
If our brain has sufficient resources to cover a wide variety of possible threats, then we feel safe and can fully experience life as it happens.
And while we need all of these life supports, improving any of them increases our chances of survival.
We experience this as having a bigger life energy reservoir, an increased ability to handle stress because we expect to survive.
So the question becomes, how do we improve our life supports?
The answer is, first, to think of them all as relationships. Yes, we have relationships with other people, but we also have relationships with our own mind and body, and with our skills and tools, which can also be thought of as relationships with goals and aspirations.
We think of them as relationships partly because they all relate to each other.
They compete with each other for our attention, but they also support each other. The more connected I feel to other people, the more kindly I can connect to my own mind, and the more connected I am with my goals, the more ideas and positive emotions I bring to other people.
Our existence is a giant web with our self, whatever that exactly is, at the center. All the strands are interwoven, and if one of them unravels, it pulls the others apart with it.
We can see this in the negative effects of workaholism. Too much investment in work, and a lack of investment in our own wellness and relationships with other people, eventually circles back around and destroys our ability to work.
Same thing goes for all of them. When we neglect any of the relational categories of self, other people, or goals, it diminishes our life energy reserves, which makes everything we experience less colorful.
Aliveness is the result of remembering that your life is big and/or making it bigger.
And the size of your life is not measured by money, fame, or followers.
It's measured by the strength and diversity of your relationships.
In the next lesson, we'll learn how to improve all types of relationships.