Hello, When I read this article by Dr. Carol Morgan, I could relate to it as I enter my middle years. The children have grown, so for a while now they have not consumed as much of my time and energy as they did when they were younger. But then as the transition of more me time began with the children grown, my Mother and Mother in Law became ill. I was occupied with caring for them in their end days. So I remember when they were gone and with the children needing me less, I began to feel a little lost, or as I think of it now with the insight of Carol, my aliveness was disappearing. My main focus in life was being a caretaker. And it is not that I'm saying I don't enjoy more me time, and husband time, and still caring for my family in the way I do. It is just when you are use to a certain role defining you, less feels like a void. I think she is so right too when she says if we do not find aliveness in our lives, we will find negative aliveness. Looking back a couple of years ago now, I know I did. So now that I have been back on track and accepting the transitions in my life, finding a career has been my main focus to fill the unaliveness, or the void. But I think I need to focus on all aspects of my life to keep feeling aliveness for life, I mean what better way is there to go through life. I hope this article gives you a little insight into your life too if you have been experiencing any of the issues she talks about.
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One of the things that I think most people lack in their lives, and certainly in their relationships, is aliveness. What is aliveness? Well, it is finding excitement and enjoyment in everything you do. It’s that blood-pumping, exhilaration, challenge, joy, stimulation, and pleasure that makes life worth living! But most people don’t feel aliveness. They feel boredom. I have a friend who, when I ask how she’s doing, she says, “Oh, I’m just going through the motions.” Every time she says that, I cringe. I cringe because what she is really saying is that she is in a boring pattern of her life…she gets up, goes to work, takes care of the kids, comes home from work, goes to bed. Period. And the next day, she starts it all over. Period. But what kind of life is that? Going through the motions? Is that the kind of life you live, too? Do you just “go through the motions?” I’m sure you probably are “going through the motions” in your relationship. Most people are.
Most people are “robots.” In other words, they all have “buttons” and they all operate on “automatic pilot.” It’s like we know the “route” we’re going so well that we don’t even think about it. It’s programmed into our brain. Our relationships are like that, too.
Robots also have no choice in how they act. It is wired and programmed in such a way that when a button is pushed, it reacts in the exact same way every time. We do that too. Admit it, you probably know how to push your partners “buttons.” You know what makes him/her tick. You know. And sometimes you use it to your advantage, don’t you? But is it really using it to your advantage? Evoking old, programmed, non-thought-out actions and responses is not necessarily a good thing. When we do that, we live unconsciously and operate like a robot.
Do you get any exhilaration and joy from any area of your life? It’s funny, sometimes you don’t know you have aliveness until it’s gone. For example, when I was working on my dissertation for my Ph.D., I was experiencing aliveness. I didn’t necessarily realize it because I was so goal-oriented. I wanted to get it done, and get it done fast. I saw so many friends of mine who took years upon years to write their dissertation – and some never even finished. So I was driven to finish it quickly. But when I was done, I had a hole in my life. I thought, “What the heck am I going to do with myself now?” My aliveness was gone. I was single, and I didn’t have much else going on in my life, and I felt lost! I didn’t realize how much I craved aliveness until it was taken away from me.
Another example of aliveness that I’m sure most of you can relate to is falling in love – or the infatuation stage of a romantic relationship. Who doesn’t just love that? And who wouldn’t love that feeling to last forever? We all would! But, unfortunately, it doesn’t. Why not? Is it because it’s not possible? Or is it because we just don’t work hard enough to keep the feeling alive? Do we get too comfortable in the relationship at some point and forget how to create that feeling? I don’t have a firm answer, but I do know that most people could try a lot harder. Most people get lazy and comfortable. And while comfort is nice, it’s not exhilarating!
Have you looked for places to “hide” from your relationship? Have you become a TV addict or a couch potato? Are you a workaholic? Do you give your time and attention to everyone but your mate? If so, your relationship has probably gotten so dull and routine that you have to look elsewhere for your aliveness. That is probably a big reason people have affairs. When I described aliveness as that exhilarating, blood-pumping feeling, well, I’m sure people who have affairs feel that. It’s not a good thing, but they aren’t feeling that aliveness in their relationship. Now I don’t want all of you out there to get upset with me – I am not advocating affairs or making excuses for people who have them. No way. I am merely trying to explain one possible reason why people do seek affairs. I’m sure it’s exciting, and it brings them aliveness.
And that brings me to another important point. If you do not have enough positive aliveness in your life, you will most likely create some negative aliveness – and affairs are a perfect example of this. Instead of consciously putting a lot of effort into making their relationship loving and exciting, they take the easy yet dangerous road by turning outside of the relationship: to another person. And everyone knows that certainly doesn’t solve the problems – it only makes them worse.
Okay, maybe your mind won’t create cancer, or lay you off from work, but it might make your relationship chaotic and tumultuous. You might fight with your partner more than you should. I know I’ve been in relationships that were characterized by fighting. It was just part of the nature of the relationship. It was aliveness, but negative. We all create this negative aliveness in our lives without even realizing it.
Brain/mind researchers have concluded that the mind can’t accept mundane reality for long. Eventually, your subconscious will take over and create some “excitement” for you. It could make you sick, cause an accident, or some other kind of complication. It can generate circumstances that will result in the destruction of your health, your relationship, or your career, just so you’ll have the challenge of rebuilding it.
The trick is to create positive challenges for yourself before your subconscious mind does it for you. Researchers have found that it does not know the difference between reality and fantasy and what is “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad.” It doesn’t say, “Oh, I can’t create cancer because that will kill me!” No. The subconscious mind cannot reason like that. It’s unfortunate, but it is true.
So I urge you to find aliveness in your relationships and your life. Don’t accept the “mundane.” Don’t accept “okay.” Don’t accept “going through the motions.” Think about specific things you can do to create some exhilaration in your relationship. Life is a wondrous journey! Make it exciting! Have fun! Rise to the challenge! But make it positive …
By Carol Morgan Ph.D.