Going into survival mode is not often a conscious choice. Individuals who live their life in survival mode are oftentimes filled with bitterness, resentment and anger. It’s not just that they haven’t healed themselves of past hurts. Rather individuals tend to automatically go into survival mode subconsciously after experiencing childhood pain that was inflicted on them. They bring it over into their adult lives as a way of protecting themselves. However, while a person may have automatically been thrown into survival mode there are variables that will trigger their survival mode. It is the kill or be killed mode. While it may be literal for some it is the figurative mode that is being referred to here. For example an individual can live in a dormant survival mode for a long time until provoked or they experience a trauma or other life-threatening situation. An individual in survival mode will attack violently either through manipulative techniques, extreme boiling anger that will spill out on either the nearest person or on the person who inflicted the pain.
Real living requires us to feel all our emotions. Anger, pain, hurt, disappointments, sadness and empathy are all emotions that are okay to feel. Denying our feelings is part of our need to survive. We may have had previous experiences where giving in to our feelings have resulted in immense pain. Or we may have lived a life where we had to do what we had to do to survive. To survive we have to be void of emotions. Think of a hunter striving for survival in a jungle or a soldier doing battle. Feeling fear of any kind will get them killed so they suppress it and are able to survive in the jungle and on the battlefield. That kind of survival mode is not necessary in real life. However, due to the many disappointments or expectations that we possess our lives become a battlefield and we go into survival mode. For every let down we have experienced from our parents, for every broken-heart that we experience and for every betrayal that we go through we feel that to depend on others is a sure way to be disappointed. What do we do? We develop an impenetrable armour and we arm ourselves with a sword, helmet and protective body gear and we prepare ourselves for battle. But, in all honestly, who are we really battling? Who is the enemy?
Weaning ourselves off survival mode takes a lot of willingness, patience and perseverance. After living in survival mode for so long it will take us awhile to get use to the feelings that will course through our bodies. We will feel a range of emotions that we have never felt before. This is because we had prevented ourselves from feeling any real emotions for so long. It will be overwhelming at first, but by being patient it will get better and we will gradually become accustomed to the new sensations. Also it may take others awhile to really trust that you are being sensitive, real and caring. After being burned so many times by your callous and insensitive behaviour it is going to take awhile for anyone to drop their guard around you and trust their hearts and their feelings around you. No one likes getting hurt so many times. Interestingly enough others around you will go into survival mode after they have been burned so many times by your attitude and the way you handled things when you were in survival mode. It is understandable, because like learning a foreign language for the first time, you will be rusty with the whole “I sincerely care about you and what you are going through” affect. But with enough practice and sincerity you will be fluent and people will start to really trust and believe that you are sincere in your feelings.
Some of us are battling an enemy that now exists only in our minds. While it maybe true that we may have been hurt immensely by our parents, an old girlfriend who left you high and dry or a boyfriend who betrayed you terribly, how long ago was the break-up? How long ago did our parents hurt us? If we are still carrying a frozen heart because of these hurts then we are relinquishing the leadership position that ONLY we have in our lives. We are preventing ourselves from living and enjoying life because someone in our past caused us deep and immense pain. When we live in survival mode we can come across as cold, callous and insensitive. This is because when we lock off our emotions we don’t have any to show. Although locking off our emotions and going into survival mode may protect our hearts, it also prevents us from feeling true happiness and joy. We forget how to laugh, play and be free. We live our lives on lock-down in solitary confinement. Even though we may have people around us 24-7, we will still feel alone and not a part of life. It is as if we are living our lives on the sidelines watching the joys of the world passing us by. The dangers that surrounded us or the things that caused us immense pain may no longer be a threat to us but they still hold power over us when we live our lives closed off. Waiting for those who hurt us to make it up to us may never happen. Therefore, we will rob ourselves of the beauty of living when we continue to expect them to make it up to us when every aspect of their behaviour is relaying the message that they won’t. We also can’t emotionally afford it to continue living and operating in survival mode. Learn to open up yourself to feeling your emotions, work on releasing the pain caused by old hurts and begin living from the center of yourself, which is your heart. After awhile you will find yourself relaxing and enjoying the flow of joy, happiness and contentment that you will draw into your life.
Trudy-Ann Ewan is a Spiritual Life Design Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author who is passionate about helping individuals create their passionate life. She motivates and educates individuals on how to fall in love with themselves and create a balanced and (w)holistic life by developing a better relationship with themselves without judgment. Sign up for the free Create Your Passion Newsletter at: http://www.createyourpassion.com/FREE-Newsletter.html and where you can also join her coaching program. You can join her on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/createyourpassion
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