When the term ‘lifestyle change’ is mentioned, many people immediately think of exercising, diet and the suffering that comes with it. It is a very fashionable term these days, but the full picture is much more nuanced than that. As the exercising and dieting are just two of the elements of one single dimension of a real lifestyle change.
Think about it: a human is not identical with just the physical body, we are much more than that. And if we really want to change our lives, our lifestyles, our progress in life, we must look at ourselves not only from this one perspective – because doing so, will not profoundly help to improve the quality of our lives.
Which for me is a fundamental idea, that all humans are a unity of body, soul and spirit.
If one of the three is not right, the other two will not be really right either. Even more so, if we concentrate on only one of the three and ignore the other two! And if humans really exist as a unity of these three dimensions, then all three areas must be equally dealt with, equally developed and equally attended to. And if this is not done, the unity collapses, the balance goes off.
And when we are out of balance – whether in the physical, emotional or mental areas separately, or in this triadic unity itself – it can easily make life difficult.
This can lead to physical illness, mental problems, memory problems, emotional ups and downs and much more. Depending on which of the three areas we are not adequately dealing with.
And when you decide you’ve had enough of this imbalance, of these ongoing problems (in whatever area of your life they are), then lifestyle change can be an option for you. But here it is important to remember that there are many dimensions to lifestyle change.
If you really want to change the direction of your life, you need to do it physically, mentally and emotionally as well. After all, one cannot work without the other. Or actually, it can work, just not in a long and sustainable way, not in a truly healthy way, and not in full unity with yourself. You have probably met people who have focused on only one dimension of the mind-body-spirit unity.
In such cases something goes sideways. In these cases, the individual lives their life in a way, that they concentrate on only one or two dimensions, they have only that in the foreground continuously. However, the other dimensions are damaged, which can lead to serious disadvantages in their life.
Let’s see what it looks or might look like when someone focuses – in an extreme way – on only one dimension in their life, while completely ignoring the other two.
The one who concentrates only on the physical dimension of their life
Such a person is most likely to attach excessive importance (and maybe even exclusive importance) to physical appearance, to superficialities.
They are the ones who may, for example, do too much exercises, too much body-building, may torture their body relentlessly, or can overuse plastic surgery. They may also use substances that are harmful to their health, but which may make them look better on the outside – while damaging their body on the inside though. And they can also go to extremes to sculpt their body just to achieve what they think is the perfect look. A look they will never be satisfied with, as their sense of reality has been seriously damaged over the years. You have certainly seen various examples of this in the form of overly muscular men and women who have opted with too many plastic surgeries already.
A person who lives only in the physical dimension is not (much) concerned with their mental and emotional development, with learning, with “exercising” their brain, and so they may be too dependent on the help of others for “worldly” matters. In addition, they probably have little real connection to their own deep emotional world or that of others, since they are not concerned with their own emotional side either. This may put them in constant conflict with others and ultimately with their own selves. As they do not understand their own emotional functioning, therefore they do not understand that of others either.
The one who concentrates only on the mental dimension of their life
This person is the one who, as they say, lives in their head. For them logic, knowledge and reason are everything.
And alongside these, body, soul and emotions are not important at all. Such a person loves to accumulate qualifications, degrees, exam results, titles – it makes them feel like being somebody. Besides, they may pay (almost) no attention to the other dimensions of their being. They may have a very low emotional intelligence in exchange for a high IQ. But for them, IQ is what makes people (and themselves) valuable in life anyway. To use an extreme example, in their world the worth of a person equals with whether they can solve the Rubik’s cube or not.
A person who lives purely in the mental dimension cannot relate in an emotionally healthy way to themselves or to the people around them. And if they do not deal with the physical side of their being at all, sooner or later it will show in their physical abilities, even in the form of frequent and serious illnesses.
The one who focuses only on the emotional dimension of their life
This is the person who constantly analyses their own and others’ emotional world. Their life is driven by going to some kind of therapy, and they immediately start to analyse every little aspect of their life from an emotional and soul perspective.
They have a high emotional intelligence which often buries them. It can be exhausting to constantly feel everything inside themselves and in others as well. They may therefore regularly feel depressed or even think themselves as being more than others, because they ‘understands people’s souls’. Often, they may even take on the role of the victim, always helping everyone – but perhaps ignoring their own selves at the same time.
A person who lives only in the emotional dimension can easily become detached from their own physical needs, and this can easily be seen in their physical appearance. Also, they may not be concerned with their mental dimension, therefore they may lose touch with the logical side of life – and therefore behave in a very detached way in everyday matters.
These examples above are of course highly exaggerated. In real life, rather the – still unhealthy – combination of the above examples can be observed in some people’s lives. This is when someone deals with two of these dimensions more or less, but ignores the third. And it is almost natural that in the course of our lives, one dimension or the other comes to the foreground from time to time. This is how we subconsciously try to achieve a balance somehow – that is, to be able to deal with all three dimensions at the same time in a healthy way.
Finding the balance is often not an easy task. Depending on what we bring with us from our past, there are many blocking factors that can prevent us from focusing on one dimension or the other.
That’s why it can be difficult to make a lifestyle change – even if the decision has already been made. You know what you should or want to do, but you can’t actually do it. Or at least not in the long term, with persistence.
As I always say, you want to do it, you just wouldn’t like to do it.
That’s when it can get to the point where you just stop – going to the gym, studying, facing and dealing with your emotional issues. That’s when the blocks inside you start to open up. That’s when they win, not the change. So, if at any time in your life you decide you want to make a change, the first thing to think about is which of these three dimensions – body, mind and spirit – have which place right now in your life?
Whichever is in the first place, the one you spend most time with, is probably where things should be mostly okay, for now it might be enough to just maintain that state and then maybe level up in that dimension later.
The dimension that is in second place: when was the last time you really dealt with this area in your life? What motivated you then? How could you bring this area back to the forefront a little more, so that you could focus on it more?
In relation to the dimension in last place, you might want to think about what makes it the last place in your life now (and maybe always)? Is there something in this area that you do not dare/do not want to face? Is there something in your pattern in this dimension that tells you that either in the physical, mental or emotional realm, this is all you can have, it can’t get any better so don’t even bother with it, because you can’t do it anyway?
Whichever dimensions you personally have in each place, if you really want to change your life, if you really want to change your lifestyle, then sooner or later you will need to start dealing with all three.
But, of course, here as well – as always, everywhere – the principle of gradualness is very important.
You don’t want to deal with all three dimensions in the first place from one day to the next. Your unity would probably not be able to cope with that, and sooner or later it would only push you to give up and return to the imbalance you were used to. Your body, mind and spirit will have to get used to the new challenges and the new ways of working. Give them time to do this. And of course, in the meantime, make sure that what you do is not just “alibi-ing”. In other words, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the tiny little thing you do will mean so much in that particular area.
Even in the process of development and change, you have to keep finding the balance in the sense that what you do should be enough, but not too much. Enough to bring change (continuously), but not too much to shock any of your dimensions.
And over time, this can become a natural process in your life that you can easily fine-tune, always in the right direction and to the right degree.
Dare to change your life, because the key is in your own hands!