Here is an unfortunate, but devastatingly truthful fact:
Most people in modern day developed nations are numbed out, half-asleep, and living lives of quiet despair.
They are disconnected from their bodies, glued to their digital devices, and have little to no social contact of any depth or emotional significance.
This general state of malaise leads those same people to depression, disease, and a sense of disconnection that negatively impacts every area of their lives.
What’s even more disheartening is that we are, in many ways, actively encouraged to stay this asleep.
Marketing telling us that we aren’t good enough. That we need to be fixed, or saved from our own inherent unlovability.
Nutrient-less manufactured foods that keep us psychologically hazy and tired.
Honey-comb homes and work cubicles that keep us isolated and separated from each other and from natural light.
But does it have to be this way?
Maybe you’ve met one, or a few, of the others.
Maybe you’ve met someone with a sense of aliveness in their eyes, and a vivid presence that can’t be faked by coffee or shimmering under-eye cream. Someone who burns for life. Someone who can be moved to tears by a beautiful sunset, and laugh a laugh so full that others around them come more alive simply be being near the radiance of it.
What is it that leads people to this sense of aliveness?
More specifically, how can you become more fully alive? How do you wake up from the societally imposed stupor that has us all walking around like zombies?
Here are four things that keep us asleep, and then four things that wake us up.
The first list might be hard to read, and the second list might be hard to implement in your life, but if you lean into the discomfort, I can guarantee you a greater sense of aliveness.
Consider the following thousand words your red-pill awakening moment.
What Keeps Up Asleep
There are four major things that keep people asleep.
Misalignment, escape, avoidance, and self-rejection.
Let’s dig into each of these forces, one at a time, and then learn how we can untangle ourselves from their deadening grip.
We all have messages in our hearts of the things that we want to do with our lives.
Maybe you know that you need to write a book within your lifetime. Or become a doctor. Or hike a famous trail halfway across the world. Or take up ballet dancing. Or send an extended gratitude note to someone you barely know.
These messages have been planted in the deepest part of your heart by a force that is unknowable. And, often, they have been there for as long as you can remember.
As long as you continue to ignore these messages of courage, creativity, and mystery, you will suffer.
Your heart speaks to you, and you ignore it. And just like a jilted, ignored lover, over time, it stops communicating with you as frequently or as loudly.
Perhaps you have been able to quiet these messages with alcohol, or fast food, or chronic porn use, or any other means of addiction and distraction… but the truth still remains in your body.
If you chose a safe path in your life in order to be practical, then you will pay a price for that.
A so-called comfortable life is most often a direct route to a life of quiet despair, mediocrity, anxiety, and low level anger (also known as boredom).
The further out of alignment you are, the more you are at war with yourself. Plain and simple.
Another common way to stay asleep in your life is to create no attachments. No bonds. No relationships. No sense of home. No structure, routine, or habits.
The lone wolf mentality will serve you well if you want to lead a life of isolation and needlessly heavy burdens.
“A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
In other words, a person who is afraid to put down roots and settle anywhere will rarely prosper. And perhaps your ego wants to convince you that you are special, that you are the unique case that that proverb doesn’t apply to… but you are still human. And certain truths are unavoidable.
By escaping any commitments in your life (to a career, to friendships, to an intimate relationships, to a sense of routine or habit) you will continue to feel heavy, burdened, isolated, and hard done by. But it will it will have been double-y painful because it will have been your own doing.
The single greatest teacher that helps us become more fully alive is pain. The single greatest way that we sabotage our sense of aliveness is by avoiding pain.
When we avoid our pain… either by active suppression or by denying it’s existence… we fall increasingly asleep, bit by bit.
When we don’t fully lean into the reality of our pain, we combat our natural state of aliveness.
Pain is a great teacher, but it is a brutal one.
– Your best friend moves away and you don’t allow yourself to feel it.
– Your parents divorced/died/beat you/told you you weren’t good enough and you never let the pain rip it’s way through you.
– Close loved ones die and you don’t allow yourself to grieve.
– You were bullied/emotionally abused/overtly shamed when you were younger and no one ever told you that what happened to you was wrong.
Any pain you avoid feeling slowly chips away at your sense of aliveness.
Ultimately, misalignment, escape, and avoidance all have a consistent through line, and that is that they each have self-rejection interwoven into them.
You reject yourself when you tell your pain that you are not willing to feel it.
You reject yourself when you tell yourself that the truths in your heart and not worthy of being listened to.
You reject yourself when you allow your ego to convince you that you are not like other people… and that you don’t need to connect to others (or a city, or a career, or hobbies, etc.).
When you take on the live truth that any part of you is wrong, broken, or unlovable, you progressively lose your sense of self until you don’t know who you are anymore.
How To Be More Fully Alive
In many ways, the pathway to being more fully alive lies in the correlates of the previous four. But, as is often the case, these things are easier said than done.
In order to come more fully alive, you will likely need to (lovingly) rip out the roots of your old mode of being in the world, and plant seeds of self-love in their place.
The path to being more fully alive comes down to alignment, commitment, feeling fully, and self-acceptance. Let’s explore these topics in depth now, so you can start walking the more difficult, but more self-honouring path from here on out.
Let’s get one thing straight…
There is nothing more confronting than becoming who you were meant to be in the world.
So many self-help cliches ramble on about the ease and simplicity of following and ‘living your truth’… and, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Owning your voice in the world, giving your gifts, and living in total alignment comes as a result from doing your individual work of self-discovery and earning your confidence over time.
Alignment is not an overnight process.
You must first become aware of who you are. Then decide on what it is that you could do with your life that would have a sense of purpose and meaning for you. And then you have to deploy the necessary courage it takes to actually give your gifts in a proactive way.
Make no mistake about it… this takes pain, struggle, trial and error, and massive amounts of courage.
I have written more than 500 articles in my career thus far both from a place of deep love and from a place of fear. Humans are not so black and white. Everything we do emerges through a kaleidoscope of emotions, and forging a life of alignment is no exception.
So if you’re giving yourself a hard time for finding it difficult to pull the trigger on a new part of becoming yourself, I would implore you to cut yourself some slack.
Regardless of whether you are changing your friend group, starting a new business, beginning a new relationship or deepening an existing one… you are doing a lot of internal heavy lifting. It is allowed to take time and effort.
Our commitments grow us.
And I’m not talking about the childish commitments that last for a season or two.
Real commitments are like marriages. They are things that you tether yourself to, for better or for worse, for as long as you can fathomably conceive.
In true, long-term commitments (whether to people, to career paths, to habits, or to personal values) our commitment helps us integrate our yet-to-be integrated soul-level lessons.
Like rocks in a rock tumbler, our commitments shape us into who we are meant to become.
Some personal examples:
– Writing consistently in this blog for the last 5+ years
– Being in a men’s group that has met every single week for the last two years
– Investing in my closest friendships in a consistent way, and giving up chronic compulsive travelling in order to put down deeper roots in my hometown
– Deciding that I would give up suicidal ideation and committing to reaching out for help if I ever feel overly anxious or like I’m peering over the ledge of a depressive episode
Mirrors are powerful things.
When we commit to people, they will show us our deepest wounds that need to be healed.
When we commit to structures, groups, organizations, or committees, then we will be informed of our relationship to authority, bureaucracy, and other personality types.
When we commit to a career path, we will grow to learn more about our laziness, our avoidance mechanisms, and how much we are distracted by shiny objects.
In short, commitment forces your lessons to bubble up when you are in close proximity to things, compounding with time. The more you face, lean into, and integrate your lessons, the more alive you will be.
3. Feeling fully
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
In order to be fully alive, you must be in touch with the full spectrum of your emotions.
The vast majority of people are disconnected from their bodies because their bodies are where they are holding all of their pain. And so to avoid their pain, people live in their heads.
Reclaim your relationship with your anger. Sob uncontrollably. Grieve your lost loves.
Every day that you are alive there is something to feel. There is unbelievable beauty, and unbelievable pain in the world… all the time, in every single second.
In this very second… people are declaring their undying love in front of all of their friends and loved ones. An adult is kissing the hand of their parent as their parent takes their last breath. A teenager is sneaking out of his bedroom window to run to his girlfriend’s house for a kiss before his parents wake up.
If you don’t know how to feel your feelings, start by journalling about things that make you feel sad, mad, or joyful. Listen to beautiful music. Look at old photos that bring back old memories. Tell your friend details about your childhood. Think about someone that you miss in your life who used to be a big presence to you.
Another way to feel more fully is to stop acting as if you are a walking head with hands, and get into your body more often.
Go for long walks. Exercise in a way that you find enjoyable. Play more often. Take hot baths or cold showers. Get massages. Cuddle a friend. Have sex with someone you love. Fill your home/bedroom/wardrobe with fabrics that you adore touching.
Move from your head down into your body and feel what there is to feel. Let your old stuck pain rip it’s way through you… and you will create more space for all of the other emotions as well.
Ultimately, all aliveness work comes down to a process of self-acceptance.
What parts are you at war with within yourself? Make friends with the instead.
These parts might not trust you at first, because you have long rejected them. But they will be swung to your favour with time.
You can start with your body, your heart, or your mind.
Maybe you don’t accept your wrinkles, or your freckles, or your hair.
Maybe you don’t accept your anger, or your sadness, or your power.
Maybe you don’t accept your arrogance, timidity, or your often judgmental nature.
Whatever you don’t accept in yourself, you can only reclaim it and integrate it with love and acceptance.
Becoming More Fully Alive Is The Ongoing Work Of A Lifetime
That’s it. Alignment, commitment, feeling fully, and self-acceptance.
As with anything worth having in life, these steps are simple, but they are not necessarily easy.
They take time and effort, but they are worth it.
What are you committing to doing in your life, having read this article?
Will you deepen your commitment to some part of your life’s path?
Will you commit to being kinder to yourself more regularly?
Will you audit your beliefs about yourself and the world around you, and come to see it more through your own personal lens of truth?
Whatever your path, I wish you well on it.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you will likely also love reading:
– How To Fully Release Difficult Emotions That Hold You Back
– All Of Your Suffering Was Worth It
– How To Overcome Depression Naturally
– How To Get Rid Of Your Repressed Anger