Self

The Hidden Lifelong Relationship We All Have That Shapes Who We Are

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Lifelong Relationship With Your Body

Mired in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often struggle to find time to nourish our bodies with good food, exercise, and rest. Nonetheless, our heart and our other vital organs continue to do their work of keeping us alive — just like they did long before we had a consciousness of ourselves, and as they do every night when we slip into unconsciousness.

Although it is comforting to know our body’s organs can exist and function without us having to think about them, the reverse is not true. It is somewhat unsettling to realize we have no existence independent of the functioning of our body and all its constituents.

The whole of our existence is the product of our living cells, tissues, and organs working together. Perhaps our notions of self-care and self-love would benefit from thinking of our body as a system of living beings. 

And thus it seems like it would be the height of folly to take all that gives us life for granted. 

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Greatness: the phenomenon of wholeness

We are not just a living system but a system of living beings, living amongst and dependent upon other living beings. Since ancient times, working together has been recognized as the means by which living beings become the whole of living systems — like flowers, trees and our bodies.

So extraordinary is the ability of flowers, trees, stars, planets, and bodies like ours to make themselves whole in nature, ancient philosophers had to invent special words to describe the phenomenon of wholeness.

Call it the Greek “synergy” or the Latin “co-operate," when multiple entities like atoms, cells, or people work together they not only become whole, but they become great. The whole of individuals working together is always greater than their individual efforts. 

Co-operation reveals the dual (maintenance and enhancement) nature of life. Specifically, co-operations involve the work of reciprocally exchanging energy and matter between all participants striving to be whole with one another. From these vital exchanges, individual cells, or organs, or you, or me, acquire energy and matter in excess of what is needed to just survive.

Watch children at play and you will see how the vital excess of energy compels us to strive and to thrive.  

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Co-operation makes 'thrivers' of us all 

We have evolved from the thriving of living beings like our cells and as we grow so too must our capacity to cooperate and thrive with our body. Developing a heightened sensitivity for and intimacy with the living beings working to maintain our life is essential if we are to learn better ways to reciprocally exchange all that is vital to the biological life contained within our body.

The reward of successfully learning how to work with our body is an excess of energy and its potential to enhance the whole of our lives, socially — with families and friends, and ecologically — with other living beings including our planet. 

Greatness squandered

We as a whole are greater than any one thing that has evolved over eons of time. Ironically, we, the greatest of the great, appear to be less cooperative, more insensitive, and indifferent toward our bodies than living beings before us.

Sadly, many people learn to look down upon their bodies and dismiss their body’s intimate relationship with them. 

Once the nature of our relationship with our body changes, so too does the nature of our existence change. As people become less sensitive and intimate with the living beings within their body, and upon which their life depends, the insensitivity is likely spread to relationships with other people and other living beings.

Intimacy becomes problematic as insensitivity hampers the ability to work together and build a better life with a special someone, other people, and other living beings. 

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Greatness thriving

In our concepts of self-care, self-love, and self-talk, we see the potential for increasing sensitivity and cultivating a healthier, which is to say a more intimate wholeness relationship with the living beings within us and upon which our existence as a “thriver” depends.

Self-care and self-love begin when you listen to your body and cultivate a sensitive and intimate relationship with the living beings within you. 

Self-talk is precisely talking to our body and, just like talking to a newborn child, or even our dogs, cats, or other pets, the words are basically meaningless but the way we speak means everything. Like the flowing energy of music, the rhythm and intonations of the sounds coming out of our mouths or our heads carry with them the prosodic power of our attitude and affection for those with whom we are interacting.

Our pets and plants grow healthier and happier when we talk to them as living beings for whom we care and love. Similarly, from the beginning, our body of living beings thrived from the care and love expressed through self-talk.

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Embracing the exchange of greatness

Ultimately, the reciprocal exchange of our greatness as individual humans with the greatness of other living beings is what living life is all about and our body is the prototype of life’s reciprocity of greatness.

Co-operating not only makes the wholeness of something greater than the sum of participants but each of us, as individual participants, will likely come out of working together greater than we were before we went into it.

And indeed, working with our body’s greatness, and providing it with good nutrition, exercise, and rest is the foundation we all need to live a life that is truly vital. Make no mistake, cooperating and the enhancement of life is not about preventing disease or the banalities of immortality.

Rather, working together is all about experiencing the vastness of vitality within and around each of us that exceeds the exchange of matter and energy and whose power manifests in the infinite feeling of being whole and alive. 

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Stephen J Almada, Ed.D. is a health psychologist and author of Exercise, Life, & Love: The Making of a Sedentary Society.

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