“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
There are a whole bunch of reasons that people end up in survival mode. There are the obvious literal reasons, like when your very life is at stake and you gotta buck up and do whatcha gotta do. I actually have been there a couple of times, or at least I perceived the crap situation I was in as life-or-death. And (spoiler alert) it wasn’t really life-or-death, but it was definitely crap. I’ve lived to tell the tale.
What I have noticed though, is that I have retained some of those former behaviors right into my current scene. Which by the way is the most peaceful existence I have known as an adult. Which has made the whole survival-way-of-thinking so noticeable and so unattractive.
How to diagnose survival mode:
For starters, there is a lack of planning ahead. You cannot see past the day or week or maybe if you’re skilled, the month. But that is it, sister. The bottom could fall out any second and then what will you do? Better play it safe and just wait and see. Plan a vacation? Maybe not. Five year plan? Ha, that’s pretty funny, more like five days.
To go right along with that seat-of-your-pants flying act, there is the lack of intentionality. Setting a healthy example with daily nutrition is easily trumped by convenient drive through meals. Especially when you worked late and swooped in to pick the kiddos up an entire minute before they close the after care center (and start the overtime meter). French fries and ketchup qualify as TWO vegetables, for real.
It’s hard to think past the endless laundry mountains to consider their college fund. You’re just hoping the bottle of detergent lasts until payday. Saving for college is right up there with retirement. Everyone knows “pay yourself first” but that feels downright impossible when there’s steel showing through on the tires and the kids need to see the dentist and somehow Christmas is going to land in December this year.
This is a terrible way to live for many reasons. The worst is when you begin to work yourself out of the pit of desperation and don’t make the mental adjustments on the upward climb. Kinda like the Israelites wandering the desert for forty years. Just a big fat long lesson learned the hard way.
I don’t claim to have this thinking entirely embedded, but I am noticing some progress. Here are a few little mantras that are helping me exit the survival mode I’ve been living in for far too long.
Life goes one way. This comes in handy when thinking about long term goals. I am exactly four semesters away from getting my Associates degree, and approximately five years from my Bachelors. I started this journey three years ago and I just keep doing sixteen weeks at a time. Whether I am working on it or not, the time is passing by. Eight years is eight years either way, and studying keeps me out of the bars. True story.
It is my responsibility. This one makes me choke sometimes. As a recovering blame-er, it is easy to blame others for (insert your favorite drama here). Most of the messes I find myself in are self created. This is actually great news! Since it is in my realm of responsibility, I have the power to change “it”. It for me is my bank account. I have the option to save or spend, and it’s really that simple. This mantra is sometimes referred to as “the buck stops here”, pun intended.
One hundred eighty degrees of dysfunction is still dysfunction. This phrase is not original but one I have totally proclaimed for myself. It is easy to swing to the polar opposite side when making corrections. The problem is that healthy is in the middle, not at either extreme. Balance and peace are so important. When I find myself going into harsh correction, I have to remind myself of this one, pretty much daily.
God didn’t bring me this far to drop me on my head now. It’s true! His arms do not tire. His patience and wisdom are never ending. My life is so full. My family has not once been hungry or homeless. My needs are always met, and quite often my wants are too. This is not the time where I need to be worried about what things will look like in twenty years. I’ll do my best to prepare and trust God to fill in the gaps. He actually does this quite well.
What are you waiting for? This is a new one, and I am still getting used to saying it. The days in front of me are probably fewer than the ones behind me. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do the fun challenging exciting things in life. I can! I will! There are many experiences waiting when I lift my eyes and see them. Life is short, make it count. Sky diving! Art classes! Mediterranean Cruise! Well, let’s get those new tires first.
Have you been in survival mode? How did you change your thinking once you realized you were out? Am I the only one?
Thanks for reading, until next time!