Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring Cleansing and Ten Steps to Leaving Survival Mode in the Dust

Once again, I'm dusting off the old blog in hopes of using it to revamp and restart my writing career. I've deleted old posts, and renamed and changed the scheme of things around here. It was time. I've linked my Google profile to my LinkedIn profile, where I've added a few projects and updated work experience. I also use Google Docs, where I realized long ago, I added many writing samples (however outdated some of them may now be :(

I've used this blog for various things over the years: ramblings, therapy, poems, challenges. Now let's try using it for "professional" purposes. As you might have been reading this, did your mind create a deep, manly voice when you read over the word"professional?" Mine did. Anyhow, recent events have encouraged me to make an effort to get back into my writing as much as I possibly can, and to try to make a living at it. I've tried this before, and got a decent start, but then I let it get away. Fear stopped me.

However difficult fear is to deal with, if you allow it, it can be a powerful tool to motivate you if you can get past the initial phase of letting it consume you because you don't want to fail stage. But that's the stage I've been stuck in for a while. Time to buck up and be brave; tear down walls I've put up in spite of myself. I stopped blogging for the pure reason that I didn't want to put myself "out there" any more than I had to. But then, what's the point to writing?


Back to fear. I've been consumed by fear for some time now. The last few years have been the toughest of my life, and much of the pain that has developed from this journey I've been on, I have keep folded up in a small package that I carry around in my back pocket. Recently though, that pain has crept up in the form of anger, emotions, temper, you name it.

Sometimes it seems that for every step you might think you are taking forward, you actually take five steps back. The me I used to know would never let pain, anger, fear consume.

Wow, all that is so hard to admit in print. For the world to see. 

So, again, due to some recent exchanges in life, I've really, REALLY taken the time to do some self reflection, a cleansing if you will, and have come to the conclusion that fear just has no place in my life any more.

Have any of us ever gone through a situation where we are left in what I call survival mode? What I mean by that is that something happens in our life that we are unprepared for, or prepared for the best we can be, and we find that we are scraping the bottom of the reality barrel, looking for any signs we can grasp onto to move forward with? Maybe we've lost a loved one. Maybe our job. Maybe we've gotten divorced. We've all been in some situation like that, I'm sure. Survival mode can help us in a crunch; it can get us from point A to point B when we aren't sure what direction to go in, but at the same time, survival mode can be hell.

Survival mode gets us from one minute to the next, and nothing more. Survival mode should be temporary; it can't prepare us for the big picture. But the longer it lingers, fear sets in and the longer we remain in survival mode. Before we know it, there is no hope of a big picture because all we can taste on the tip of our rosy tongue is what we need to do to get to that next minute. We lose faith in ourselves, in others. We don't trust. We withdraw even more. We lose more and more of ourselves. We might hurt those around us, say hurtful things we don't mean, do things we don't mean to do, and all we can do is say we are sorry and hope that people forgive us because they know that is not the real you (or you hope that they know that). Chalk it up to being human, perhaps, but the ultimate key to moving on in life is to get out of survival mode.

And just how do we do that? Easier to say than do, right? Here's ten steps I've discovered that I know I need to work on, improve on, and implement in my life to wash away the residue fear has left behind and kick survival mode to the curb, so maybe someone else will find these useful:

1. Stop looking at what you DON'T have and look at what you DO have. We might not feel we have much to offer, but we do. We may feel like we haven't accomplished much of anything, but we have. Take a personal inventory of all things good in life and use those good things to move forward with.

2. Get rid of the negativity. This is a big one for me. I am, by nature, a positively negative person. I don't think I mean to be, but I think that I process things in a manner that result in automatic negative responses and tones, so when I communicate, it's all Negative Nelly for me. To stop this, we have to be forceful with ourselves. If we feel that we are migrating towards negative thoughts or energy, just simply stop. Reverse and back up. Try looking at we need to from a positive angle. Then proceed forward with a fresh, new outlook.

3. Trust, even if we have to relearn how to do it all over again. Another big one for me. Listen to the gut. It will never steer you wrong. This might be easier for women. I read an article once about women's intuition and that is stronger for us than for men. However, for various reasons, for me, trust has been shot out the window and I need to relearn how to hone in on my gut. I need to work on trusting people more and trusting myself even more than that.

4. Accept the fact that people cannot read our minds. Find healthy, positive ways to convey what we think and feel; don't just assume that everyone around can read you by the look on your face, because chances are, they are reading you wrong or you are convey what you are trying to convey wrong. Regardless, no one can read our minds, so we can't possibly expect people to "get us" by knowing our thoughts. People will "get us" based on what we give them or tell them. And if we give crap, that is what people will see.

5. Set reasonable expectations. If we set the bar too high for ourselves or those around us, expectations will not be met time and time again. Ah, but then it's so easy to claim, "Oh, I fail!" or "Oh, you fail!" Well, who is that fair to? No one. At the end of the day, we are all human. We are going to mess up to some degree, fall short to some degree. We aren't perfect, you know.

6. Know that we can't manipulate the outcome of life. It doesn't matter what life throws at us. What matters is how we REACT to things. Lately, I haven't been too graceful in this regard. I am working on this. This includes not making rash decisions and not over analyzing every single little thing that develops in life. Find a balance between making healthy choices and analyzing only enough so that we can react to things in a calm, decent manner. I jump the gun. A lot.

7. Take ownership of our"stuff," "crap," whatever word works for you. Taking ownership in no way justifies how we might behave, good or bad, but acknowledging when we are wrong, well, that's what I'm going for here. It's hard... to admit when we are wrong, when we mess up, when we hurt someone. But if we know we did wrong and if we can admit it and apologize and mean it, it might not always mean something to whoever else, but it can mean something to us. It means that we are willing to grow as a person.

8. Have fun. I've been in that "living paycheck to paycheck" mode for a while now, and I can blame it on the economy, the job market, whatever, but the truth of the matter is this: if we don't make time to do something fun every once in a while, survival mode will swallow us even more. Even if it's something that is cheap, it can be fun. Even if it is something we do alone, it can be fun.

9. Try to have no regrets. This one is tough. Often times, we make a wrong decision and we KNOW that it's wrong, but we do it anyhow. Too, we may feel that we take a gamble because we don't know what the outcome will be and we want to know or need to know and we just can't know. Sometimes, we are forced into making a choice that we don't want to make. I think it's human nature to look back at choices and NOT regret the decision we made in a certain situation, but all we can do is accept it the choice we did make and move on.

And finally,
10. We've all heard this saying before: leave the past behind. The past can bring both happiness and pain. If we can take the happiness forward, do so, but the pain - make amends with it. I think we tend to find comfort in painful things because for so long, all we might know is pain. As much as we know we have to leave the past behind, we sometimes want to carry it with us because it becomes a crutch. That's the false facade that survival mode can bring if we aren't careful and linger too long in its ashes.

The journey or path we are on in life can be cold and uninviting. Life can bring pain and fear, and it can trap us. BUT it can also be rewarding, and with a bit of patience (another thing I am working on), it can be more than just getting from one point to the other. Surviving is a necessary evil along the way, but watching out for the quicksand traps and maneuvering around them, that can be the tricky part. We are all survivors in one way or another, and while some of us get stuck and sometimes want to give up, but there's always a way to pull ourselves back up.

1 comment:

  1. You have earned this right with ever bloody, mindful step. My heart is soaring for you~!

    ReplyDelete

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