As Life unfolds, we build up very useful survival skills.
Thank goodness, we do.
So we can survive a lot a circumstances, horrendous, traumatic, or just slowly spirit eroding ones…
Our beautiful brain is constantly reshaping itself to adapt and integrate new data, new environment, new situations and so forth.
From birth to death, our brain is morphing.
Neuro-plasticity studies have demonstrated this physical faculty and it’s fascinating.
But survival skills are strongly established mental patterns.
Part of our mental “pathways” most deeply grooved, most unconscious, most efficient.
Then, as we move along, and circumstances get better, these survival skills are no longer required so much but they still get triggered frequently.
In fact, our survival skills can get triggered as frequently as our ego feels threatened.
Any threat, even imaginary (and Ego is very sensitive, very reactive by nature, to anything resembling a threat), will provoke a knee jerk reaction on our part, straight from our personal survival kit.
There is a stunning similarity between our limbic system (the lizard brain part of our brain) and our Ego, as they react extremely fast and strongly to any threat, real or not.
It looks like our Ego lives at the level of our lizard-self…
While evolution gave us a big neo-cortex, meta cognition, spirituality and consciousness, as long as we don’t become aware of our primal mechanisms, and deliberately commit to shift gears and grow out of them, thriving won’t happen, no matter how we long for it.
Our results are entirely tied up to our way of BEING and Thriving requires a different skill set than surviving.
Anyone who’s been on a growth oriented journey will tell you: there are times when we feel swamped, when we hit a virtual wall, when we get frustrated and feel powerless.
We made progress, and it felt great.
But then here we are and we can see that nothing fundamental took place, except for the realization that we COULD create a better life. Big time.
At that point, it might be time to look with wide open eyes, and gently examine our usual patterns and what gets in the way.
What are the things I do, the thoughts I think, the choices I make, when I’m on “automatic pilot”?
Awareness. It starts right there. Becoming aware.
Not blaming, not judging, not criticizing myself, just witnessing, becoming very curious… very interested. (So far if I’m interested in myself, my ego won’t be too threatened! :)
Committing. That’s a foundation we can’t pass. Without commitment, we won’t do what it takes to install a new pattern, and access the level of thriving.
Either we tend to fight, to flee or to freeze, when something triggers us, we’ll have to notice it then to evolve out of that pattern.
Committing to react less and respond more is a first pivotal step.
Nothing is more precious in personal mastery than PAUSING, when we feel triggered.
To take the time to slow down and respond.
Respond, not react.
Not from our lizard brain, not from our over-sensitive ego, not from our survival kit… but from our more evolved, creative, compassionate, intelligent, connected Self.
The part of us longing for a truly thriving life style. For growth. For fulfillment.
We can decide and train ourselves, exactly as if we wanted to become fluent in a new language, and learn a new set of skills.
Our Thriving skills.
What are these skills and how do they differ so much from the survival ones?
Thriving comes with deliberate cultivation of our highest abilities instead of using only our rough primal tools.
Where ego would react, we can choose to create, instead of blaming circumstances and feeling like victims, we can start owning our decisions, our choices, and make them accordingly to what we truly desire; we can exercise compassionate awareness on a daily basis, toward the world and ourselves instead of judging every misstep harshly; we can dare being visible and whole, instead of hiding behind hard to wear masks; we can start learning new things, knowing that failure is only feedback on the path to mastery, in anything; we can start listening to HEAR, instead of listening to answer and be right, we can tune down our hyper sensitivity and tune up our curiosity.
We can start loving change for what it is: a door open on a new life, instead of the loss of what we had.
Our choices and results will be dramatically different either we use our survival skills or our thriving skills.
So when we feel the call for a larger version of ourselves, and long for a better life, the first step is really about growing up, emotionally, from an ego-centered, insecure, self-berating, low esteem, anxious state of being, to a freer, more connected, more confident, more playful self.
Is it gonna be a piece of cake?
There will be resistance and fear, and doubt.
We’ll progress and get giddy with success, to only find ourselves at a plateau and stalling in frustration; we’ll have growing pains, we’ll make mistakes…
But when we come to that point where more of the same won’t get us any further, it’s time to realize: our survival skills brought us here, but it won’t get us THERE.
If we want to have a chance to thrive, we need to accept and let go of the old patterns that were so useful and so well honed, and learn new ones.
We need to seek the company of others who thrive, instead of perpetuating the all-controlling lone wolf syndrome… We need to open up to new possibilities, to stare fear down, to cultivate unconditional self-love and radical self-honor.
Not from an ego stand point, but from a soul seated one.
The larger self. The highly conscious self. The beautiful being we aspire to be and were born being, before people and circumstances shaped our persona.
The beautiful thing is that we all have access to what it takes to upgrade and go from survival mode to thriving mode.
It’s a learning.
Simple as that.
We all can learn, and we all can thrive.
To your journey.