You know that scene in the movie “Top Gun” when Maverick has disengaged from the fight and is leaving Ice Man all by himself without backup? He’s tormented by his last flight that ended in disaster, when his partner and best friend, Goose, was killed. He’s scared to face his fears of flying without his best friend and fly after what had happened last time. This is a pivotal moment that makes or breaks Maverick. Of course, we all know what ends up happening—he engages, becomes the hero, gets the girl, and the rest is Hollywood history.
That scene is exactly what I think of when I say “engage” vs. “disengage” with your life. This is because happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in life are on the other side of what happens when we display courage and overcome fear.
Some of us have self-sabotaging habits that cause us to continuously disengage with our life, which makes us miserable and depressed. While really happy people are constantly engaging with their life, facing problems, displaying courage, and continuously striving to improve their life.
It’s the same reason why the alcoholic drinks themselves to sleep every night. Why the pothead can’t go a day without being high. Why the junkie can’t function without drugs in their veins. Or why the Netflix binge-watcher wastes so much time watching every single fucking show that drops on Netflix.
This type of behaviour is avoidant behaviour. It’s trying to fill a gap where something is missing. It’s avoiding facing life. Avoiding facing responsibility. Avoiding facing your fears. Avoiding the (daunting) task of making changes in your life that will actually make you happier, but they require a whole lot of really fucking scary work that you just don’t feel like doing right now.
So you DISENGAGE, DISENGAGE, DISENGAGE. This leads to guilt. And this perpetual guilt leads to self-loathing and misery.
The reason why the middle-aged housewife drinks an entire bottle of wine every night is probably because she’s bored with her life or bored with her marriage. If she were sober, she’d have to face the reality of the fact that her marriage has zero passion or laughter in it.
The reason why the pothead gets high is because it makes mindless things more interesting, and makes him or her feel better about doing less. It’s a mind-altering way of allowing yourself to settle, comfortably.
Netflix binge-watchers can even get so enamoured with the worlds they’re inhabiting on the screen that their own life becomes shittier in comparison. They continue to binge because “that world” is more exciting and makes them feel better than their own life. This becomes a really big fucking problem because they get attached to this fictional world, while forgoing the work they need to be putting into their own lives.
But you’re the happiest in your life and feel the best about yourself when you’re facing your shit. When you’re tackling your life head-on. When you’re putting time into your personal relationships. When you’re making progress on your dream. When you’re taking care of yourself and making your health a priority. When you’re speaking to yourself with love, and focusing on your spirituality and mental state-of-mind.
This could mean going to see a therapist for something that you’ve been dealing with internally for years, but avoiding because of all the shit about your past that is going to be hashed up in the process. The thought of dealing with it and going back scares the absolute shit out of you. You put it off for years and years. It continues to eat away at you because you know that this issue is what’s holding you back but you know the process of going through it is going to be scary and force you to face the darkest parts of your life.
But you fucking do it, somehow, anyway. And you push through. And after a while, the scary thing doesn’t seem so scary anymore and you slowly begin to get control over it. And then eventually, you make that scary thing your bitch…and know what happens? You release a giant weight off your soul that instantly makes you feel so fucking free, powerful, and capable.
We’re the happiest when we engage with our lives because we want to feel like we’re making progress. In all aspects of our life, we want to feel like we’re moving forward in some way. Facing your life head on—full engagement—means you’re accepting responsibility for everything you are and everything your life is right now, but also understanding that you have the power to change it.
This creates confidence and energy because slowly you start to feel better about yourself and your life. An energy is created from this constant engagement, which builds momentum, and then once again your life begins to start rolling with positive energy.
We all have different ways that we disengage and avoid the things we need to be doing and dealing with to make our lives better. Different ways that we avoid. But on the other side of overcoming the hard stuff in our life is where we will find the most joy and freedom. Because it allows us to empower ourselves by feeling really good about our life and how we’re choosing to show up.
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