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Access Your Aliveness: Engaging and Disengaging

This lesson is a part of an audio course Hack Your Brain, Access Your Aliveness by Dave Wolovsky

In the previous lesson, we learned about the three categories of life supports, or relationships.

In this lesson, we're looking at how to improve any relationship, and all of them at once.

First, let's get a better picture of each type of relationship. There's a lot to say about all of them, enough to fill a whole other course, but I'm compressing the descriptions for now.

Our relationship with our own mind and body consists of our self-talk and self-care. How we talk to ourselves, and how we listen inwardly, basically dictate our level of mental wellness. The more negative emotions our inner conversations create in us, the worse our relationship with our own mind is.

The other component, self-care, is about the scheduled and unscheduled activities that maintain our physical and mental health, like sleeping, eating, exercising, meditating, singing, dancing, laughing, and crying. Generally, the more variety we have in all of these activities, the more healthy we become.

In our relationships with other people, we exchange life energy with them in the form of thoughts, emotions, and actions. The three main channels of interpersonal energy flows are talking or listening, giving or receiving gifts and emotional support, and making decisions or letting other people make them. The more balanced these flows are, equal talking and listening, for example, the more energizing a relationship becomes.

In our relationships with our goals and aspirations, such as a desire to own a toy shop, create a spectacular garden, or become an astronaut, we have the effort we put in and the satisfaction we get from that effort.

It's not linear. Twice as much effort today yields much less than twice as much satisfaction tomorrow. The most effective way to build life energy from working on goals and aspirations is by balancing effort and rest, i.e., spreading out our effort by doing just a tiny bit every day. That gives us a lot of pleasant contrast, many moments of a little progress.

Now that we have an idea for the general range of relationships, it's clear that improving them means doing a lot of different things. It might be daunting, given how I said in the previous lesson that we need all of them and can't leave any of them out.

The good news is, it's much easier than it sounds because, and again, pleasant contrast saves the day.

In order to improve our relationships and generate moments of Aliveness, we need to improve our skill of relating, and since all our relationships are...relationships, practicing good relating in any of them helps with all of them.

So what is good relating?

It's a balanced rhythm between engagement and disengagement.

If we want to improve our relationship with our self, it's good to improve our exercise habits, for example, which for most of us means getting more exercise. But the word "more" can actually get in the way of our ultimate goal.

Let's say we have 1 hour a week to realistically devote to exercise. Doing it all in one day is less useful than doing 8 minutes every day, which comes out to only 56 minutes in a week. This is because the goal is not to get as fit as possible, as fast as possible. The goal is to improve our relationship with our self.

Getting fit as fast as possible means treating your body as an object to be manipulated, but it's not.

Your body is your most fundamental connection to life. Strengthening that connection, which you can do in 8 minutes a day, will be much more enlivening than simply "being more fit." Ironically, you will get more fit just as a byproduct of a better relationship with your self.

The same goes for all our relationships. The more we try to rush "progress," whatever we think that means in the context of the relationship, the less connection we create, and the less sustainable our relationships become.

To make a relationship more sustainable, we have to balance engagement and disengagement, bringing some attention to the relationship, and then respecting the state of things as they are.

In the next lesson, we'll get an idea for how to balance all of our relationships against each other to create an ecosystem of good relating that also supports our wholeness.

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Written by

Dave Wolovsky