Ah, vitality! What is this thing we call vitality? It is the power of feeling alive. It is the power and energy to feel your body and mind fully alive, and ready to be used in a vigorous way— whether in action, exercise, activity, or in thought, problem-solving, creativity, etc. And vitality is what you and I were created for. How do I know? Well, look at a little child who has slept well and is well fed—isn’t the child a bundle of energy ready to burst out? The child moves and runs and jumps and hops and curiously gets into just about everything.
To manage this bundle of energy, we usually have to send the kid to school to be trained to “sit still, stop moving around so much, stop asking so many questions, get your hands out of X,” and so on, and typically, after ten years of that kind of training, with sufficient “punishments,” most kids succumb. They dampen their vitality and they channel their energies into fitting in, conforming to others, to not standing out or being shamed for being unique or different. They become “socialized” into trying to be “normal” or “average.” In this way, they dampen and kill their innate drive for self-actualization.
There are many factors that can undermine your innate powers of vitality. The two primary sources are 1) how you cope with your biological needs and 2) the social context that defines your sense of reality.
The first factor has to do with how you handle, address, and cope with your biological needs. How you cope with them will determine whether the energies that you have and use are effectively tapped or wasted in the process. When you know what your biological needs are, understand them, know how to gratify their appropriately, the energy of those needs disappear. They go away. And as they do, the next level of prepotent needs arise to your awareness. And when you have a clear understanding of what they are and how to satisfy them, they go away. This is the nature of our human requirements (needs) for being human and what Maslow mapped out with his hierarchy of needs.
But if you do not understand the drives within your neurology and mind and do not gratify them effectively, then it takes more energy to cope. And if you mess them up with cognitive distortions so that you turn a healthy need into a neurotic need, then for all of your energy in coping with them, not only do they not go away, but they grow to become insatiable. And then you become obsessive and compulsive about the way you are falsely trying to cope with that need. What is a sign that this may be happening? Fatigue, exhaustion, depression, burn-out, and the depletion of vitality! You may be wearing yourself out trying to accomplish something that cannot be accomplished (like being perfect, like having absolute safety and security, like having everyone approve of you or like you) will deplete your energy and leave you without any energy. You’ll have no vitality for living life.
So vitality is your heritage and it naturally arises when you are adequately and accurately gratifying your needs. In fact, as you do that, you will find more and more energy available to you— energy and vitality that you can now use for living your life more fully, more humanly, more excitedly, more passionately.
This is one of the primary goals and themes of the Self-Actualization Workshop that we call Unleashing Vitality (and your Real Self). By revisiting Maslow’s list of human needs (survival, safety, social, self, and self-actualization), and using the Self-Actualization Assessment Scale that I created along with Tim Goodenough, we focus on the releasing of vitality.
The second factor that can undermine your vitality is the social context within which you live and that you mostly use to define yourself, your world, your reality, etc. It is in that system that you experience your particular Matrix, that is, your matrix of frames of meaning. You inherited it from the family system you grew up in, your language system, your religious system, your educational system, your ethnic system, etc. The ideas, beliefs, understandings, concepts, etc. that you grew up in, if they do not provide you a good and effective model or map of the world, then you can find your vitality drained and defeated.
How does this work? It works because as with any distorted or fallacious map, you are wasting your energies trying to navigate the experiences of life. It works because your map doesn’t take you were you want to go, it doesn’t allow you to generate the experiences that you want, and/or it may take you on the most circumlocutious route so that by the time you arrive, you have depleted all of your energy.
Here is another paradox. Vitality is your gift as a human being, it is natural, easy, and the very design of your mind-body-emotion system, yet it is also delicately dependent on you having an accurate map about the world and a context in which you develop the skills to meet your legitimate needs. With an accurate map and good healthy development, you should have vitalitypouring out of your pores! Every part of you—and your experience should continue to express the vitality of a young child wonder-struck by the magic of our world. People should be hearing you say, “Wow!” and “Fantastic!” many, many times every day and come along to find out what you just discovered.
Neuro-Semantics is about the empowerment of human vitality. We’re committed to enabling people find their passion, experience their passion, and live a life of passion. Our aim is to unleash this vitality so that people fall in love with life, with others, with meaningfulness, and with the sacredness of everyday. And this is your invitation to come join the adventure.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
Everyone as best as he can...