I had no idea how addicted I was to living in survival mode. Throughout my life, I experienced so many traumatic events. From losing my mother, watching my dad struggle with drug addiction, experiencing domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Oh, and let's not forget being financially unstable, because I discovered being poor is also traumatic...for me.
I viewed the world through my trauma lenses. I was a victim of my circumstances, and I wore my victimhood like a badge of honor. You can throw any f***** up situation my way and I will claw my way out and to the top, because I am built for this. I am a survivor. Just like many black women (this may be true for all women, however I'm only an expert being a black one), I validated myself based off how much pain and stress I could endure. And I needed to prove to everyone how strong I was.
The survival mode is also called stress mode. I was sooo addicted to stress. I would even seek out and place myself in stressful situations because my worth and value was tied up in how resilient I was. I even stopped myself from going after opportunities because it seemed too easy or too good to be true and didn't support my need to struggle to the top. I was unconsciously looking for next thing to throw me off balance, because I was becoming an expert in navigating drama. I know it sounds nuts, but I found comfort in chaos. I was inadvertently perpetuating my own generational traumas. I found myself reenacting a behavior loop that was passed down from my mother, her mother, and so on.
Stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to activate. This is the "fight or flight"response that floods your body with hormones in order to protect you in dangerous situations. It serves a purpose during short periods of stress, however long periods of stress signals surging through your body can weak havoc on your body damaging blood vessels, promoting weight gain, and even effecting your mental health.
In 2017, I came to the conclusion that the way I was moving through life no longer served me. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of gettin in my own way. I realized that I was the center of my own problems.
The real truth is that I was scared. Fear controlled me.
I feared to be alone, feared of getting sick and dying, feared not being enough, or doing enough. I was ashamed of my story and wanted to appear happy and normal so bad that I feared people would know I was faking it. I wanted more out of my life and I wanted to feel better, but deep down I didn't believe I could have it. I decided it was time change my life. I wanted to thrive!
The Keys to Getting Out of Survival Mode
The first step in creating change in your life is to become self aware. Through self awareness, we make the decision to get curious about what is happening. Ask yourself these questions. "Why do I feel as if I cannot get out of this cycle?" "Why do I feel like I continue to have the same experiences?" "Why are the experiences that I don't want continuing to show up in my life?" "Why do I feel overpowered by my emotions?" These questions are important because it allows us to take note of our thinking. It reveals how we talk to ourselves, how we talk to people, and how we perceive our experiences.
Change the Narrative
The real problem with being stuck in survival mode is the story we tell ourselves about the experience and the over-active stress response. When we have an experience, our brain is immediately attaching it to a memory of a similar experience, and that's how our body knows how to feel and think about it. Most often we are thinking in the past, but there are times when our thoughts are anticipating the future. Trying to figure out the worse case scenarios and planning for when it all goes down, creates stress on an experience that has yet to happen. Because you're listening to a broken loop of irrational fears, it prevents your brain from experiencing the truth of the present. You must change the narrative to release the fear by rewriting the script. I believe affirmations are a great way to change how you view yourself and the world around you. I wrote affirmations on my mirrors and on posted notes all around my house for a year until I believed them.
Meditation & Pranayama
Prana is a Sanskrit word for "vital life force". Pranayama consist of controlled breathing exercises that nourishes the cells in the body and increase the oxygen intake in order to reduce stress, purify the blood, calm the mind, and promote concentration. Meditation is a mindfulness practice of focusing your mind in order to train your attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally balanced state. Developing a meditation and pranayama practice was and still is a major key for me to get out of survival mode. When I am able to quiet my mind and calm my spirit, I can hear messages from my higher self on how to proceed forward. I am able to stay in the present moment and I can then make decisions based off truth, not false evidence appearing real.
Once you have decided that are ready to thrive and shift out of fear, it's time to now begin to create the life you really want. Use the Law of Attraction to create the experiences that you want to have. Now many people often ask me how to activate the Law of Attraction. The truth is that this law is in action 24/7. Your thoughts and energy that you put out in the universe is yielding back to you the experiences you are perceiving whether its good or bad! So, once you develop the skill of being aware of your thoughts and consciously choosing the ones that make your feel good, you can then use the Law of Attraction to help you visualize the new experiences you want to feel.
Commit to Healing
The journey to wholeness and living a thriving life is not an easy one. I personally had to face hard truths about myself and had to learn to accept myself. All these years I blamed the universe and everyone else for my problems, but the real antagonist in my story was myself and my thinking. In order to evolve into the person that I want to be and an experience the life that I want, I must hold myself accountable for who I am now and who I am seeking to be. Being committed to my healing cultivates self love and self trust. The more I love myself and trust myself, the more I can view the world and everyone in it with love and trust. A personal commitment I made to myself was becoming a vegan. It feels good to know that I am putting good things in my body that make me feel better. However, you can start with small daily commitments such as; making you bed when you get out of it, journaling before bed, meditating for 10 minutes everyday, or going to the gym.
If you relate this in anyway, I hope you found this information helpful. Remember, you are not your story. You can be and have whatever you want in life, despite your circumstances. Choose to embrace your beauty within, and let your inner light shine. It's time to thrive!