You can be alive and you can experience life.
Hopefully at the same time. But not necessarily.
An Imbalanced Focus
You can be entirely inward-focused and be alive. But you won’t experience your life as much as when you’re also outwardly focused.
You can be entirely outward-focused and experience life. But you won’t be as alive as when you’re also inwardly focused.
The Symptoms of Imbalanced Focus
Too much inward focus leads to dissatisfaction because you’re alive, but not experiencing life enough. You’re focused on you ideas and beliefs, but not putting them into action.
You’re not “on stage” enough.
Too much outward focus leads to dissatisfaction because you’re experiencing life but not alive enough. You’re focused on putting your ideas and beliefs into action, but not on reconciling yourself with them.
You’re not “in touch with yourself” enough.
The Rewards and Risks of Both Focuses
Obviously, both states of focus offer rewards worth seeking. Being fully alive is associated with feeling connected, serene, and safe. Fully experiencing life is associated with satisfaction, esteem, and pleasure.
But both states also offer risks.
- Being fully alive, after all, requires self-reconciliation which forces us to confront our cognitive dissonance – the areas of our life where we’re not who we’ve been telling ourselves we are.
- And fully experiencing life means we are more open to experiencing failure from which we can’t hide.
Who to Ignore (If You Want to Hide Something)
Those risks make being fully alive and fully experiencing life something we occasionally avoid. We can produce the illusion of safety from some of risks posed by one of those states by “hiding out” in its opposite.
- Scared of losing or failing? Simply go inward, focus on yourself, and ignore the rest of us.
- Frightened of knowing yourself? Simply focus outward, play to the crowd, and ignore your self.
Of course, ignoring either us or your self is a recipe for an eventual disaster. Because we are here. And so are you.
What to Do Instead of Ignoring
A much more reliable plan is to act upon pain or displeasing experiences by seeking reconciliation. Take your feelings to a 30 minute (or more) anaerobic state. Feel them there and process them.
When you’re done, you’ll be lighter and more in tune – which will allow you to make decisions more closely aligned with the outcomes you desire.